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Sohar Islami, the independent Shariah Compliant Islamic Bank within Bank Sohar holds its first Shariah Supervisory Board Meeting

The senior management of Sohar Islamic held its first Shariah Supervisory Board (SSB) meeting, chaired by Dr. Hussain Hamed Hassan, and attended by the other SSB members. The SSB of Sohar Islamic comprises of leading Islamic scholars from Islamic finance and academic sectors from across the world. During the course of the meeting, the SSB considered and approved product structures, contracts and policies in order to generate a workable strategy for a range of Islamic Banking products and services that Bank Sohar will soon offer. The SSB members commended Bank Sohar for addressing the need for Islamic banking and for their diligence in assuring Shariah compliance in all products.

Thomson Reuters to host forum on Oman as preferred destination for Sukuk

Thomson Reuters will be discussing Oman's leading position as a preferred investment destination for Sukuk during an upcoming forum set to take place on February 24, 2013. It will be investigated what needs to be done to facilitate the country's entry to global Islamic financial markets by Thomson Reuters with support from the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) and Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI). Thought leaders, bankers, and Shariah scholars will discuss the opportunities of setting up Islamic financial markets operations in Oman, how to capitalize on the global Islamic financial markets interest, and explore prospects to develop a strong Islamic interbank and fixed income market.

Gatehouse Bank completes US acquisition of GSA tenanted office building

London-based Gatehouse Bank has completed the acquisition of a 163,000 sq ft, state of the art office building in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is 100% leased to the General Services Administration (GSA) for a fixed term of 20 years.
The deal is expected to return a stable and healthy yield over the investment period. Gatehouse Bank was assisted by Arch Street Capital Advisors and sister company GSH in this transaction.

Ahlibank may switch to Islamic banking

Oman's Ahlibank, which launched its Al Hilal Islamic banking services in the sultanate, is considering to convert all its conventional branches to Islamic banking. According to Abdullah al Jabri, DGM and head of Al Hilal Islamic Banking Services, the bank is planning to start with branches in Ibra, Nizwa and Sur in the coming month.

Al Salam Bank acquires two Boeing planes on long lease for Emirates Airlines

Al Salam Bank Bahrain acquired an equity stake in two new Boeing planes which are being leased long-term to Emirates Airlines. Thus, investors have the opportunity to benefit from a regular income stream with a yield of 9% p.a. secured by a top tier airline. The Bank retained a sizeable stake of the investment in the proprietary portfolio and sold down the remaining portion to its investors.

NCB Capital launches Alahli Global Natural Resource Fund

NCB Capital has launched AlAhli Global Natural Resource Fund aiming to enrich investment portfolios with natural resources due to rising demand for those in emerging markets. Investors are given the opportunity to achieve capital growth by investing primarily in the listed shares of international companies that are involved in the natural resource related sectors. AlAhli Global Natural Resource Fund is a Shariah-compliant fund denominated in US Dollars with a minimum subscription amount of $2000, managed by investment professionals.

Egypt approves sukuk law

According to the finance minister of Egypt, the cabinet has given its approval of a draft law to allow sovereign sukuk. Thus, the government is looking for new ways to finance an unsustainable budget deficit. It is expected that there will be strong demand for Islamic bonds. The Islamic Development Bank recently announced that it could be ready to buy around $6bn of them.

Global sukuk issuance surged 54% in 2012

According to research by Kuwait Finance House, the total of sukuk issuance by end of 2012 has amounted to $131bn. This is an increase of 54% compared to 2011. The total sukuk issuance in December is $8bn marking a 61% increase in comparison with the previous year. Malaysia is the country which issued the most sukuk, followed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Indonesia.

Emirates Islamic to launch $408m rights issue

According to announcement, Emirates NBD's Islamic unit plans will start with a rights issue worth Dhs1.5bn ($408m) this month. Emirates Islamic Bank (EIB) will offer 1.5 billion shares at Dhs1 each between January 25 and February 3, thus increasing its capital to Dhs3.93bn. Since last year, Dubai Bank is formally part of Emirates NBD, since it was rescued by the Dubai government in May 2011.

Qatar CSR report 2012 launched

The first edition of the Qatar CSR Report 2012 has been released. The central part of the report are the most recent developments in CSR from both government and private institutions. Reviewed developments include Qatar National Vision 2030, National Development Strategy 2011-16, Qatar 2022, National Day, and National Sports Day. In addition, the Millennium Development Goals are described in detail. The United Nation's ten principles on climate change in Qatar, and strategies carried out by the respective public and private sector entities to implement it in the country are incorporated in the report.

Strong demand drives growth at Islamic Bank of Britain

Islamic Bank of Britain reported an increase of 63% in home financing and an increase of 43% in long-term savings deposits for the first three quarters of 2012. Key factors in stimulating the growth and demand were the launch and development of new savings products, the IBB Home Purchase Plan (HPP, the Sharia compliant mortgage alternative) and Buy to Let Purchase Plans, which were strongly supported by effective sales and marketing strategies. Currently, IBB is the leading provider of retail Islamic financial products in the UK and is searching for ways to increase the number of Islamic Banking products it offers to the market.

Al-Othman: Baitok-Saudi Arabia achieves SR19m profit since beginning of year

According to a statement by Abdul Aziz Al-Othman - CEO of Saudi Kuwait Finance House - the company has achieved a profit of SR19m since the beginning of 2012 die to investment in various short and long term investments. He particularly stressed on the strength of the Saudi economy and its numerous opportunities. This way, the company's growth potential is being continuously reinforced. Moreover, he pointed out that Saudi economy played a key role in increasing positive performance indicators during the coming period.

ADIB expands its regional footprint by opening a branch in Sudan

According to an announcement by Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), the bank plans to expand its original footprint by launching its branch in Khartoum in Sudan. Thus, ADIB becomes the first UAE-based Islamic financial institution which has received a banking license from the Sudanese Central Bank. A Wealth Management and a Corporate Banking Centre will be established alongside the provision of the bank's award-winning products and services. This way ADIB will ensure a leading platform for Shari'a-compliant banking in Sudan and will be able to contribute to the economic development of the country.

Gulf GRE's bond sales set to recover early 2013: HSBC

According to HSBC Holdings, bond sales by Gulf government-related companies will experience growth at the beginning of next year. Thus, more than $1trn can be invested in different planned projects. Georges Elhedery, head of global markets for the Middle East and North Africa at HSBC, supports the opinion that the optimistic attitude is very reasonable.

Islamic International Rating Agency reaffirms Shari'a quality rating of Jordan Islamic Bank

Jordan Islamic Bank's Shari'a Quality Rating (SQR) was reaffirmed as AA by the Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA). This is an indication that the bank conforms with very high standards of Shari'a compliance in regard of all aspects of Shari'a quality analysis. JIB, owned in majority by the Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG), is set to maintain and enhance the level of compliance with the spirit of Shari'a principles in Islamic finance.

TDIC and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank launch exclusive 100% home finance program

An exclusive home finance scheme for high-end residential communities was launched by Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) on Saadiyat island. THe new scheme is applicable to purchases of the luxury Saadiyat Beach Villas. A unique and simple home finance package for potential residents of the Villas including 100% finance up to Dhs30m repayable over a period of 25 years with a competitive profit rate starting from 4.99% will be offered.

Emirates Islamic Bank completes migration of Dubai Bank customers and branches to become one of UAE's largest banks

Emirates Islamic Bank (EIB) announced the successful integration of of Dubai Bank customers, branches and operations into its platform. The most branches have now been converted to EIB systems and brand. The remaining ones will undergo conversion at the beginning of December. EIB further explained that customers whose accounts have been migrated from Dubai Bank will receive new account numbers. The old account numbers and existing identification will still be valid for the foreseeable future across all banking channels.

Bank Nizwa seeks regulator's nod to invest funds abroad

Bank Nizwa has given a request to deploy their funds abroad to Oman's central bank for consideration. Thus, Bank Nizwa will be able to get returns instead of keeping the money idle until the bank starts operation. The capital base of Bank Nizwa is OR150m, compared to that Alizz Islamic Bank's paid up capital is as high as OR100m.

ICD cements plans to launch mortgage finance company

Earlier this week, the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) was host to a meeting on a high level discussing the launch of a new national home finance company with committed shareholders. The brand name of the company will be Bidaya. In particular, the status of the new company's development and plans concerning the next steps towards the launch were discussed. According to Khaled Al-Aboodi - CEO of ICD - the Mortgage Law together with the recent release of draft regulations give the industry clarity and direction which was very necessary.

KFH-Research seeks to prepare economic indicators for private sector services, business

According to a statement by Mr. Fahad Al-Mukhaizeem - strategy and corporate affairs general manager at Kuwait Finance House (KFH) - KFH-Research together with Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and Central Statistical Bureau intends to prepare economic indicators for the private sector. Moreover, they consider an upgrade to the mechanisms followed in its researches. Such a move will stabilize business and give additional value to the national economy. A documented scientific product will be released which will include a number of indicators in Kuwait's private sector business field.

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