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Michael Saleh Gassner

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.

New group forming to alleviate poverty in Palestinian territories

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has established an investment fund aimed at curbing Palestinian poverty. The fund will help finance the Palestinian People’s Economic Empowerment Institution. The Palestinian government has given instructions to the Ministry of Social Development to prepare to launch the institution in mid-2019. The poor inside Palestine are the institution’s first target, and priority will be given to areas Israel has targeted with economic restrictions such as Gaza, the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem, the areas adjacent to the settlements and the West Bank wall. It will also work to empower women and the poor abroad, particularly those living in Palestinian refugee camps.

Prominent Turkish bankers, businesspeople see no macroeconomic reason for currency volatility

For Turkey's bankers and businesspeople it has been impossible to explain the high volatility in the exchange rate over the past few weeks. The fundamentals of the Turkish economy are solid and macroeconomic indicators fail to account for the recent slide in the Turkish lira, which dropped by more than 40% since the beginning of this year. These fluctuations are seen as manipulations on the Turkish lira and economy, as part of an economic war waged against Turkey by U.S. President Donald Trump. The U.S. dollar tumbled nearly 5% against the Turkish lira on Tuesday. European shares rebounded Tuesday as the Turkish currency firmed. The Central Bank introduced measures on the Turkish lira and the foreign exchange market (FX) liquidity management. The bank said it would provide all the liquidity needed by banks and closely monitor markets and prices, while raising collateral FX deposit limits for lenders' lira transactions from 7.2 billion euros ($8.2 billion) to 20 billion euros.

Physical Gold #Fund SP announces Shariah compliance

Physical Gold Fund SP (PGF) has been endorsed as Shariah-compliant by Amanie Advisors. Amanie Advisors issued the fatwa in accordance with the Shariah Standard on Gold set by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and developed in cooperation with the World Gold Council. According to Alex Stanczyk, managing director of Physical Gold Fund SP, this fund is unique in the Mena region and is a perfect fit for the values expected by Islamic investors.

RAM Ratings: #Turkey rating downgrade triggers Kuveyt Turk downgrade

RAM Ratings has downgraded Kuveyt Turk's long-term rating to A1/Stable from AA3/Negative. The rating of KT Kira Sertifikalari Varlik Kiralama’s RM2.0 billion Islamic MTN Programme (2015/2025) has been revised downwards to A1(s)/Stable from AA3(s)/Negative. The Bank’s short-term financial institution rating remains unchanged at P1. The rating actions were triggered by the downgrade of Turkey’s sovereign ratings to gBB2(pi)/Stable/gNP(pi) from gBBB3(pi)/Negative/gP3(pi), due to an erosion of the country’s fiscal discipline. Kuveyt Turk has a relatively favourable funding profile, with a moderate reliance on market-based funding compared to the industry norm. The bank’s customer deposit base is well diversified. The bank’s liquidity profile is robust, with an average liquidity coverage ratio of 230% in fiscal year 2017.

AAOIFI holds public event

The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) held a public hearing of two of its standards hosted by Banque du Liban (BDL) (Central bank of Lebanon) in Beirut, Lebanon. AAOIFI also held its 10th meeting of the AAOIFI Accounting Board (AAB), where the Board deliberated on the Exposure Draft on Ijarah and Ijarah Muntahia Bittamleek, and the Standards Review and Revision Project. Several public hearings for AAOIFI standards have earlier taken place in Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and future public hearings will be held during 2018 in different parts of the world to obtain industry feedback on other exposure drafts already issued by AAOIFI.

Will Islamic bonds help revive #Egypt's economy?

The Egyptian government plans to issue dollar-dominated and euro-dominated sukuk over the next fiscal year. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait made the announcement, expecting that the issuance of the Sharia-compliant bonds would attract huge demand. He added that the government would introduce amendments to the existing laws to enable the issuance. On April 11, the government approved a draft law to establish a sovereign fund aimed at making the best use of state assets with a capital of 5 billion Egyptian pounds (about $279 million). The Egypt Fund will benefit several infrastructure projects, create more job opportunities and reduce the budget deficit. The Egyptian government is also planning to float shares in state-owned companies to draw more local and foreign investors to the stock market.

#Maroc : Vers le lancement du premier #sukuk souverain

Le royaume chérifien se prépare à lancer son premier sukuk pour un montant de 105 millions de dollars. Le ministre des Finances, Mohamed Boussaïd s’est voulu clair et rassurant indiquant notamment que le Maroc émette son premier sukuk souverain dans les semaines à venir. D’est pour la matérialisation de cette émission que le Conseil des ministres, tenu le 7 juin 2018 a adopté un projet de décret permettant aux autorités monétaires de fixer les caractéristiques et les modalités d’émission des sukuk souverains. La Banque centrale marocaine avait accordé des licences à cinq banques islamiques et autorisé trois autres banques traditionnelles à ouvrir des fenêtres islamiques.

#Germany and Islamic Development Bank support Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem

Cancer patients from the Palestinian territories can soon benefit from a new modern diagnosis apparatus, financed by Germany and the Islamic Development Bank. The Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem received a PET/CT scanner which allows modern cancer diagnosis. Mr. Peter Beerwerth, the German Representative in Ramallah praised the valuable work the AVH is doing. AVH, managed by the Lutheran World Federation, is the first and only hospital to provide special therapies in the Palestinian territories. Here, about 1.800 patients are treated yearly. Germany contributed an amount of 1,2 million USD for the PET/CT system. The Islamic Development Bank contributed some 400.000 USD.

Executive #education : Dauphine #Tunis se lance dans la finance islamique

L’Université Dauphine Tunis lance un executive master intitulé "Principes et pratiques de la finance islamique". La première promotion se déroulera de janvier à juillet 2019 pour 420 heures de cours, en anglais, en français et, pour partie, en arabe. Le programme se divise en cinq modules: principes de la finance islamique, principes et pratiques de la banque commerciale islamique, principes et pratiques de l’investissement et du financement de projets en finance islamique, principes et pratiques de la gestions d’actifs islamistes et de l’assurance Takaful et enseignements complémentaires. Les enseignements seront dispensés par l’équipe pédagogique de l’Université Paris Dauphine, menée par les co-directeurs Kader Merbouh et Kaouther Jouaber-Snoussi.

New #Egypt Finance Chief Looks to #Sukuk for Funds

Egypt is considering tapping the international sukuk market in the coming fiscal year, as it looks to diversify funding sources. The issuance would mark a revival of a plan shelved since 2013 when the government issued the law to pave the way for the country’s first Islamic bond. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said that the ministry has yet to discuss how much it wants to raise from conventional bond sales in the coming fiscal year. The focus is shifting toward long term borrowing. The government is also planning on launching the first offerings of stakes in public sector companies in July or August. The initial stakes are expected to raise between 15 billion and 18 billion pounds.

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