Saudi Arabia

#Saudi fintech surges even as coronavirus bites private sector

Saudi Arabia is seeing a faster adoption of technology at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has weighed heavy on the private sector. The FSD programme, which was launched three years ago, has achieved 90% of its targets and the coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in the fintech sector, said Faisal al Sharif, director general of the Financial Sector Development (FSD) program. The FSD’s targets for Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) issuing fintech licences was three by end of 2020 but today there are eight such licences. Similarly, the target for cashless transactions was 28% e-transactions by end of this year, but today they make up almost 37% of the total.

Saudi Re receives Sharia certification from Shariyah Review Bureau

Saudi Reinsurance Company (Saudi Re) announced receiving the Sharia certificate for its offerings from Shariyah Review Bureau (SRB). With a solid financial base of total assets SAR 2.9 billion and an A3 rating by Moody's, Saudi Re is eyeing opportunities to strengthen its presence in its target markets in the Kingdom, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. CEO Fahad Al-Hesni said that Saudi Re has identified Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) objectives from investors perspective, among which Sharia compliance was emphasized as a key factor in reflecting the responsible conduct. SRB apply various Sharia supervisory actions like reviews, investment screening, interactive consultations, Sharia Board administration and periodic Sharia audits.

Saudi German Hospital secures $81.33mln loan from Al Rajhi Bank

The Middle East Healthcare Company (Saudi German Hospital) received Sharia-compliant credit facilities worth SAR 305 million from Al Rajhi Bank. A total of SAR 120 million of the financing is revolving loans that will be renewed periodically, while the remaining sum of SAR 185 million will be paid within six years. The first amount is short-term financing that aims to cover working capital needs whilst the second sum is a medium-term loan that will be used in financing the healthcare provider's digital transformation. The loan is guaranteed by a promissory note.

Demand for green Islamic bonds gain momentum in GCC states

Investor appetite for green sukuk is growing in the Arabian Gulf countries despite the lukewarm economic growth amidst the ongoing pandemic. Saudi Arabia’s electric transmission monopoly, Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), issued a multi-tranche $1.3 billion green sukuk and reported an order book of more $5.2 billion, indicating the immense appetite for sustainable Islamic bonds. The proceeds of SEC’s sukuk will be used to finance green projects relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy. Currently, Saudi Arabia is almost exclusively reliant on fossil fuels for power generation and has a high energy usage per capita because of its reliance on air conditioning and desalinated water. The green sukuk market is still in its infancy, with only a handful of issuances taking place.

Islamic Banks: Structural Advantage

Banks who are in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, will have weaker earnings and profitability this year, due deterioration in nearly all their sources of income said Junaid Ansari, head of Research and Strategy at Kamco Invest, Kuwait. Conventional banks and the Islamic financial institutions will record weaker performance he said, but Islamic banks, due to their structure and focus, may cope better.

#Sukuk Market Developing Fastest in #Saudi Arabia

Launched in 2017 with the aim to diversify funding, the Saudi finance ministry had planned to raise US$31.5 billion of Sukuk in 2019. A new ‘primary dealer’ scheme for local-currency government sukuk was launched in 2018, under which five local banks buy the sukuk directly from the government and then make a market by quoting two-way prices to other investors. Additionally, Saudi regulators introduced a number of incentives in 2019 for corporate sukuk issuers and investors to encourage further issuances. Lower regulator fees and zero tax/zakat on investments in domestic sovereign sukuk also promise a more active and liquid secondary market.

#Saudi Arabia’s mortgage lender Amlak to start trading on Tadawul from Monday

Saudi Arabia’s mortgage lender Amlak International for Real Estate Finance starts trading shares on the Tadawul stock exchange. The company is floating 27.18 million shares, or 30 per cent of its total, with an indicative price range set at 15-17 Saudi riyals (Dh14.7-Dh16.6) per share. Proceeds of the offer are being used to repay selling shareholders. Amlak International was set up in 2007 and is a non-bank lender, mainly of property loans. Shares in Amlak International's IPO will be allocated on a pro-rata basis to individuals who subscribed to the offer, depending on the size of their request.

The impact of Saudi Arabia's VAT increase on Islamic financial institutions

Value added tax ("VAT") was pioneered by the European Union, but is gradually spreading worldwide. Saudi Arabia recently tripled its rate of VAT. While VAT in Saudi Arabia is only a couple of years old, the Saudi VAT law follows widespread international precedent by also exempting financial services. Accordingly, all financial institutions will suffer a hit to their profit and loss account. All purchases of goods and services which are subject to VAT increase in cost by 9.5%. This may lead to an increase in bad debts in the Saudi banking sector. Islamic financial services are not expected to suffer more (or less) than conventional financial services.

The Hajj Pilgrimage Is Canceled, and Grief Rocks the Muslim World

The cancellation of the Hajj pilgrimage sent shock waves of sadness and disappointment across the Muslim world. Performing the pilgrimage at least once for those who are physically and financially able is one of the five pillars of Islam. Making the trip is a sacred milestone for the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims. The Saudi government announced on Monday that no pilgrims from outside the kingdom could perform the hajj this year. On Tuesday, Saudi officials narrowed the order, saying that only about 1,000 pilgrims would be permitted this year, a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million who came last year. The cancellation weighs particularly heavily on older Muslims who have been waiting for years to go in hopes that they can fulfill their religious obligation before death.

IsDB eager to support development projects Madinah

IsDB President Dr. Bandar Bin Hajjar stated that the bank was working on a pioneering project to establish a "Global Waqf Centre of Excellence" in Madinah, with a capital of $50 million. The aim of the center is to build a global umbrella for the Waqf sector, linking and coordinating all those interested in Waqf. The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) is preparing to launch the first initiative of the center to grant an approved certificate of Waqf specialist. IRTI is also working on the "Ish’had" platform, which is an e-platform using blockchain technology, to document and protect Waqf properties.

#Saudi property firm Amlak plans first post-coronavirus Riyadh IPO

Saudi real estate financing firm Amlak International plans to float 30% of its shares in Riyadh, in what will be the exchange’s first initial public offering (IPO) since the coronavirus crisis. Amlak said the final offer price would be announced on June 30, after a book-building process starting on June 22. Saudi retailer BinDawood Holding also plans to launch an initial public offering as early as this month. The group hired Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, NCB Capital and GIB to organize the deal.

New York Online Investment Firm Gets Aramco Financing for Islamic Products

New York-based Wahed Invest has secured financing from oil giant Saudi Aramco to expand into the Middle East and make Riyadh its regional hub. The Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures extended the funding to the online Islamic investment platform as part of a $25 million funding round. The three-year-old Wahed Invest, which has secured a license to operate in Saudi Arabia, aims to get regulatory approval in 20 more countries. It currently has licenses to operate in nine countries. The company's Islamic Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) holds investments in Apple, Johnson & Johnson, and Intel Corp. Wahed Invest is also contemplating listing its Islamic ETF on the Saudi stock exchange. Its ETF was listed on the Nasdaq last year.

Wahed Raises $25 million

Wahed raised $25 million in venture funding with proceeds being funneled into ensuring people can invest their money into a diversified portfolio consisting of stocks, commodities, real estate and sukuk. Since launching in 2017, Wahed was recently awarded the first RoboAdvisory permit by the financial regulator, the U.K.'s Capital Markets Authority, to launch its platform in Saudi Arabia. Wahed’s foray into Malaysia in 2019 bolstered their global presence, and the fintech firm now serves over 100,000 clients globally. Wahed believes that they are paving the way for ethical investment in Islamic finance and showing the world how underserved the Muslim market is.

#UAE and #Saudi women control assets worth $326bln - BCG

Women’s wealth in the Middle East is expected to grow to $1.1 trillion from the current $786 billion during the 2019-2023 period. As of 2019, more than 40% of women’s wealth in the Middle East is concentrated in the UAE and Saudi Arabia where women control assets worth $102 billion and $224 billion. According to Boston Consulting Group (BCG), women’s wealth is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.3% to $140 billion in the UAE and of 5.1% to $273 billion in Saudi Arabia by 2023. Women are likely to set the region’s wealth management trend, if asset managers target this market segment as a business opportunity and personalise their approach. Women are more likely than men to invest on the basis of their values, favouring funds that perform well but also create a positive impact, as opposed to investing solely for performance.

The legacy of Saudi tycoon Saleh Kamel

Saudi billionaire Saleh Kamel died on Monday and has been buried in Makkah, but his legacy is sure to endure. Even at the age of 79, despite suffering from age-related health issues, Kamel remained active and busy. After graduating, he worked at the Saudi Ministry of Finance. After 10 years with the ministry, Kamel moved to the private sector. He founded his flagship Dallah Al-Baraka Holding Company in 1969 in Riyadh. He expanded the Group's acitivity to include financial and banking services, health care, manufacturing, real estate, tourism, trading and more. Dallah Al-Baraka Group also has the honor of being chosen to clean and sterilize the Two Holy Mosques. Kamel was also a well-known investor in the media and satellite television production. He established Arab Radio and Television and formed a partnership with the Arab MBC channel. Dubbed "the father of contemporary Islamic finance", he received Malaysia’s Royal Award for Islamic Finance in November 2010. The tycoon’s wealth was estimated to be about $2.3 billion. Kamel aspired to creating jobs. He believed that all people should have dignity and that all lives are precious and deserve to be honored.

Saudi Islamic banks’ financial metrics sound, says Fitch Ratings

According to Fitch Ratings, Saudi Islamic banks’ financial metrics deteriorated mildly in 2019 but remained sound. As for conventional banks, the rating agency noted that the impaired financing ratios continued to increase in 2019. Islamic banks have lower impaired financing ratios and financing impairment charges than conventional banks due to their lower proportion of corporate banking. Islamic banks’ profitability remained above conventional banks’ in 2019. Strong deposit growth at Islamic banks in 2019 allowed their financing/deposits ratio to drop below their conventional peers’. Saudi Islamic banks remain well capitalised, with an average Common Equity Tier 1 ratio of 17.8% at end-2019. According to Fitch, if the current economic disruption continues, weaker asset quality and profitability are likely to put pressure on capital.

#Saudi Arabia raises $1.53bln in local sukuk -statement

Saudi Arabia has raised 5.755 billion riyals ($1.53 billion) in sukuk. The first tranche of the sukuk issue is 3.8 billion riyals, and the total tranche size is 6.549 billion, maturing in 2025. The second tranche has a size of 1.95 billion riyals, and a total tranche size of 10.296 billion, maturing in 2030.

Saudi's Al Moammar Information Systems signs $77mln Islamic loan

Saudi Arabia’s Al Moammar Information Systems (MIS) signed an Islamic facility agreement with Riyad Bank for 290 million Saudi riyals ($77.15 million). The revolving facility will be renewable every year. MIS’s listing on Tadawul last year marked the first listing for a company from the IT sector on the Saudi bourse. The company reported a net profit after zakat and tax of 76 million riyals in 2019, compared to 64.5 million riyals in 2018. Revenues rose to 997.5 million riyals last year, compared to 886.2 million riyals in 2018.

Many Join Saudi Online Platform to Teach Arabic Calligraphy

The Saudi Ministry of Culture announced its launch of the first electronic platform to teach Arabic calligraphy and Islamic decoration. The electronic platform will be supervised by a group of professional calligraphers from the Kingdom and the Arab world. The platform offers various training courses, including professional courses in the types of Arabic calligraphy, making calligraphic paintings and artwork, letter formations, gilding, Islamic decoration, drawing and coloring, the art of paper marbling and Ebru (needle art). The platform will also give the trainee the opportunity to develop Arabic computer fonts by learning designs and programming fonts. The online platform was launched in 2018 and has over 19,000 users from 30 different countries around the world.

Saudi Arabia raises $1.48bln in local #sukuk -statement

Saudi Arabia has raised 5.55 billion riyals in sukuk. The first tranche of the sukuk issue has a size of 1.3 billion riyals, and a total tranche size of 2.523 billion riyals, maturing in 2027. The second tranche has a size of 4.25 billion riyals, and a total tranche size of 8.238 billion riyals, maturing in 2035.

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