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#Turkey, #Malaysia, #Qatar can pioneer in Islamic finance

Ready to be taken to the next level, the burgeoning sector of Islamic finance is ready to take root in new regions through Turkey, Malaysia and Qatar. According to Yousuf Al-Jaida, CEO of the Qatar Financial Centre, Malaysia could act as a gateway for Islamic finance into Asia, with Turkey into Europe and Qatar the Middle East and Africa. He stressed that Malaysia was ready with its legal framework to facilitate the sector, while Qatar and Turkey need to step up and do more for the sector. Al-Jaida said these three countries could form a large platform to share experience, technology and knowledge. He is optimistic and sees a bright future, as Islamic finance is now growing at an even quicker pace than conventional finance.

#Turkeys unexpected rise to the top of global crypto adopter

When thinking of countries that are ahead of the curve in crypto adoption, Turkey might not be the first place that springs to mind. However, Turkey has undoubtedly become a crypto giant, and with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently announcing that testing of the digital lira is to be finalized in 2020, crypto is destined to become even more popular. While the country’s government was initially reluctant to embrace cryptocurrencies, the people had always found utility in it. The online payment sector in Turkey had been ready to adopt crypto, but the first opportunity only came when PayPal was banned in the country. Turkey’s Ministry of Industry and Technology announced plans to establish a national blockchain infrastructure. Turkey has a vision of making Istanbul a financial center, and all institutions are working toward that end.

Albaraka Turk issues TRL 600 million dual-tranche #Sukuk

Albaraka Turk Katilim Bankasi has issued TRL 600 million dual-tranche Sukuk through its subsidiary Bereket Varl?k Kiralama Sirketi. While the targeted total amount of the issuance was TRL 450 million, the total amount reached TRL 600 million. The certificates had two different tenors as 98 days and 147 days and the size of each tranche was TRL 450 million and TRL 150 million respectively. Malek K. Temsah, Albaraka Turk’s Assistant General Manager of Treasury, said that the uniqueness of this transaction was in its dual-tenured nature, which offered investors additional flexibility.

Istanbul to host refugee economic inclusion conference

Istanbul is hosting a two-day conference to discuss the economic inclusion of young refugees in their host communities. The conference is set to bring together more than 150 stakeholders from the MENA region, policymakers, international and national NGOs, private sector, academia, and entrepreneurs. Participants will discuss various methods for enhancing economic inclusion of refugees and host communities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The two-day program will be held in partnership between the Dutch International NGO Spark and Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), with the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs as sponsors.

#Egypt mulls around $7 billion international bond issuance

Egypt will approach investment banks soon to advise on a planned international bond issuance to raise between $3 billion and $7 billion by June 2020. The new offering could include Egypt’s first Panda, Samurai, Sukuk and green bonds as well as euro- and dollar-denominated bonds. Khaled Abd Elrahman, the Egyptian Deputy Minister of Finance, said that the so-called request for proposal is being prepared and will be sent to banks imminently. Egypt was able to return to global bond markets in 2017, lowering its borrowing costs overseas as domestic rates soared amid a far-reaching economic reform programme. The government is now seeking to vary its instruments and gradually move toward longer-term credit to reduce the burden of debt. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said that foreign holdings in Egypt’s Treasury bills and bonds currently stand at about $20 billion.

#Turkey's Takasbank reveals blockchain platform to transfer gold

Turkey’s Takasbank launched its blockchain-based electronic platform for trading gold called BiGA. The project aims to enable people to transfer physical gold stored at the Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange via digitized gold units on a blockchain. Although the units will have the same form and function as physically backed stablecoins, their value will be tied to the traded goal. The bank will provide users with a wallet to store the tokens, and BiGA can eventually be used as an e-commerce payment option. Notably, the word “BiGA” is the Turkish abbreviation for one gram of gold. Earlier this week, New York-based Paxos Trust Company has launched PAX Gold, a gold-backed Ethereum token, with approval from the New York State Department of Finance Services. One PAXG token will be supported by one fine troy ounce of London Good Delivery gold stored in professional vault facilities in London.

Istanbul meet discusses development challenges

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have organised a two-day meeting in Istanbul. Several managers from organizer institutions are giving speeches on many issues such as saving children, poverty in Africa, socio-economic issues, Islamic and alternative finance, innovation and blockchain opportunities and partnership with the private sector. Gerd Trogemann, the manager of UNDP's Istanbul Regional Hub, stressed that all partners have to work together for bringing solutions to development challenges. The partners should go beyond organizational borders and build networks and platforms of partnerships, as each partner has different levels of reach, approaches and solutions.

#Turkey: Islamic economy institute to hold int'l studies

Turkey's first institute on Islamic economy and finance aims to conduct international academic studies in Istanbul. University president Erol Ozvar said the Marmara University Institute of Islamic Economics And Finance (MUISEF) will expand its studies with further academic research. MUISEF is the first of its kind in Turkey in terms of being an academic institute. Ozvar added that the instruction language will be in English and will provide training on Islamic economy and finance for graduate and doctoral students coming from different disciplines. The institute was established under a joint protocol with the Finance Office of the Turkish Presidency and serves the purpose of making Istanbul a "finance center".

Exhibit at Museum for Islamic Art Features Jewish Jewelers from the Arab World

The Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem, with a mission of promoting interfaith dialogue, has opened a "past and present" jewelry exhibit. According to its curator, Idit Sharon, the museum serves as a multicultural bridge between the different streams of Israeli society. The newly opened exhibition is a prime example of this, presenting amulets made by Jewish designers living in the Arab world. Collector William Gross noted that in their form and craftsmanship, the folk art of Jews and Muslims was strikingly similar. According to Sharon, the fact that Jews and Muslims used shared symbols in their work exists until today.

TAKAFUL: SANLAM VEUT BIEN VENDRE DES PRODUITS D’ASSURANCE ISLAMIQUE, MAIS...

La filiale marocaine du sud-africain Sanlam vient de créer une nouvelle filiale, du nom de Sanlam Takaful, dédiée à l’assurance participative. Le projet de loi introduisant le Takaful dans le Code marocain des assurances a déjà franchi, en février, l’étape de l’adoption à la chambre des représentants. Faute de disponibilité de l’assurance Takaful au Maroc, les clients des banques participatives ayant bénéficié de financements islamiques sont aujourd’hui exposés à un danger sérieux, en cas de décès ou d’invalidité. En guise de solution, les banques ont trouvé le moyen de combler cette lacune en obligeant leurs clients à s’engager à souscrire à une assurance Takaful dès que celle-ci sera autorisée à la commercialisation. Les acteurs de l’écosystème participatif tablent sur un démarrage de cette activité au cours du troisième trimestre 2019.

Scientific heritage of Fuat Sezgin to be appreciated at symposium

The International Fuat Sezgin Islamic Science History Symposium will be organized in Instanbul from June 13 to June 15 with the theme of "Fuat Sezgin's Scientific Heritage." Various Islamic science history experts from all over the world will discuss both their works and the contributions of Fuat Sezgin to the world of science. Sezgin was one of the most respected historians of Islamic science and the recipient of the Presidential Culture and Art Grand Prize before his death last year at the age of 94. Studying Islamic sciences and Arabic at Istanbul University, Sezgin was expelled from the university after the 1960 military coup and worked in Germany as a visiting professor at the University of Frankfurt. In 1982, Sezgin founded the Institute for the Arabic-Islamic Sciences and established a museum showcasing over 800 copies of scientific tools. A similar museum named the Museum for the History of Science and Technology in Islam was opened in Istanbul in 2008 in Gülhane Park.

NGOs appeal for immediate end to attacks on civilians and hospitals in Idlib

Heads of 48 NGOs working in Syria have signed an open letter to the UN Security Council calling for an immediate end to attacks on civilians and hospitals in Idlib. Three million civilians in northwest Syria are scared and many are homeless. According to the United Nations, over 200,000 people were forced to flee the continuous bombing and shelling of towns in southern Idlib and northern Hama. SAMS President Dr Ahmad Tarakji says the United Nations has a responsibility to protect the schools, hospitals and homes and present a tangible plan to deter such attacks. Human rights organizations are now urging all parties to act quickly to ensure the protection of civilians in northwest Syria.

Turkish banks and investors disagree on bad loan talks

Turkish lenders disagreed on almost everything with potential investors when they met for the first round of talks about unloading a pile of bad loans. Investors demanded a 30% discount on the face value of the loans and an ownership stake, but the Turkish banks refused to write-off the loans and wanted to restructure them instead. While the government plans to carve out non-performing energy and real-estate loans, attendees disagreed so that some of the participants questioned whether there would even be more talks. Bank capital ratios are being squeezed after companies requested about $28 billion of debt-restructurings after a 28% plunge in the lira against the dollar last year.

#Jordan Islamic Bank is focusing on inclusivity to drive prosperity in the country

Between 2014 and 2017, Jordan has made significant progress in terms of financial inclusion. According to the latest World Bank report, 42.5% of adults in Jordan now have a bank account, a remarkable increase from the 24.6% seen in 2014. Raising this percentage even further is one of the key pillars of Jordan Islamic Bank’s (JIB) future growth plan. According to Musa Shihadeh, CEO and General Manager of JIB, the bank is specifically targeting young people, women and SMEs to improve financial inclusion. Between its financial inclusion efforts and sustainability initiatives, the organisation is keen to become a leader in social responsibility. JIB developed a relationship with Jordan’s major trade unions, which represent engineers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and agricultural engineers, to help spread information about the bank’s financial products.

ICD invests $230M in various sectors in #Egypt

Ayman el Segeny, CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) met Sahar Nasr, Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation. Segeny said that ICD's investment in Egypt reached $230 million, of which $75 million were invested in the food industry and $75 million in the renewable energy in Benban Power Station. Futhermore, Segeny noted that ICD participated in financing petroleum Services Company by $20 million. Both sides discussed activating the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the organization and the Investment Ministry on the cooperation to develop Egypt's infrastructure. Nasr said that there are vast opportunities for investment in Egypt especially in the Suez Canal Development corridor, the New Administrative Capital and New Alamein.

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#Morocco to Launch Islamic Insurance (#Takaful) in 2019

Morocco will launch Takaful next year after introducing Islamic banking services in 2017. In July 2017, the Moroccan Government Council adopted a draft decree paving the way for implementation of the Takaful Law. Insurers wishing to operate in the segment will be required to offer exclusively Islamic products. Some big insurers such as French AXA and US Atlanta have already shown an interest. The Moroccan conventional insurance sector is thriving as shown by the growth of its turnover, which increased in 2017 by 10.9% to $4.1 billion. Insurance penetration increased in Morocco by one percentage point to 3.7% of GDP in 2017, against 2.1% in Tunisia and 1.7% for the MENA region.

#Egypt to get $1bln for basic goods from Islamic Bank - ministry

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) will provide Egypt with $1 billion to support the provision of basic goods. The financing is part of a $3 billion agreement with the ITFC, which is part of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Egypt's economy was battered after a 2011 uprising ushered in political instability that scared off tourists and foreign investors.
Earlier this week Egypt signed contracts with two global banks to hedge against fluctuating global oil prices. The investment ministry said the ITFC financing was part of a new cooperation strategy between Egypt and the IDB lasting until 2021.

Faisal Islamic Bank of #Egypt to employ women for first time

Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt (FIBE) will start appointing women to all of its branches for the first time since the bank was established in 1979. Egyptian member of parliament Inas Abdel Halim had submitted May 31 a briefing paper to then-Prime Minister Sherif Ismail about reports whereby the FIBE does not employ women. Abdel Halim stressed that the bank is violating Article 9 of the Egyptian Constitution, which stipulates that the state shall ensure equal opportunity for all citizens. She called on both the prime minister and the governor of the Central Bank to investigate the incident. According to Sahar el-Damaty, the first female vice president of Banque Misr, FIBE and its relationship with its founders in Saudi Arabia is the main reason behind the strict rules relating to the appointment of women. It seems the FIBE decision falls within a series of societal changes both in Egypt and Saudi Arabia aimed at granting women their full rights.

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