United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi's Al Hilal Bank to price debut sukuk Tues, subject to markets

Abu Dhabi government-owned Al Hilal Bank will price its debut Islamic bond offering on Tuesday, subject to market conditions, especially the shutdown of the U.S. government. Books are now open for the transaction, with commitments from investors already totalling $2.75 billion. The five-year sukuk will be of benchmark size - traditionally understood to be worth at least $500 million - with initial price guidance set at 190 basis points over midswaps. Al Hilal is due to conclude meetings with fixed-income investors on Monday in London. Citigroup, HSBC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Standard Chartered are arranging the roadshows, along with Al Hilal itself.

Dubai Chamber, Thomson Reuters highlight Islamic Economy potential

Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry , in partnership with Thomson Reuters , organised the first roundtable discussion for media on 'What is the Islamic Economy?' as a prelude to the 'Global Islamic Economy Summit' taking place in Dubai on November 25 and 26, 2013. Dubai is already enjoying a high status for Islamic banking and is in the process of enhancing halal food industry, trade policies and commercial laws, and Islamic tourism among other sectors and this Summit will provide the impetus to the future growth of the Islamic Economy. The Summit's topics of discussion will include the six major pillars of the Islamic economy: Islamic Finance; Halal Food; Halal Lifestyle; Halal Travel; SME Development; and Islamic Economy Infrastructure.

Dubai Chamber to attract world Islamic business anchors

The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry launched Anchor 100 Initiative to attract top world businesses to move to Dubai by highlighting the main 11 reasons to invest in Dubai. The reasons include low taxes and incentives, location and infrastructure, and qualified labor force. Besides, the Dubai Chamber together with Thomson Reuters will host the Global Islamic Economy Summit taking place in Dubai on November 25 and 26, 2013. According to Sayd Farook, Global Head of Islamic Finance at Thomson Reuters, there is still a huge untapped potential for Islamic Finance as 72 per cent of Muslims are non-banked. Growing further will need broadening the appeal of Islamic finance as well as targeting opportunities for growth in emerging Islamic markets.

Dubai Islamic bonds are world’s best performer as economy gains traction

Dubai’s Islamic bonds are the world’s best-performing sovereign dollar sukuk this quarter as the economy of the Arabian Gulf business hub gathers steam, with bank profits, tourist numbers and property prices rising. Dubai’s US$650 million of notes due May 2022 returned 5.3 per cent, the most among 33 Sharia-compliant sovereign bonds tracked by Bloomberg. The average return was 1.3 per cent. Dubai’s CDS, contracts insuring the emirate’s debt against default for five years, fell 86 basis points in the past 12 months to 199. They reached a five-year low of 187 on May 7. Dubai’s economy is set to expand 4.6 per cent, on average, between 2012 and 2015.

Dubai not in refinancing talks on $20bn Abu Dhabi debt

Dubai is not currently in negotiations with Abu Dhabi to refinance $20 billion of crisis-related debt that will come due in 2014. The borrowed amount comprised $10 billion from the UAE central bank and $5 billion each from two state-owned banks in Abu Dhabi, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Al Hilal Bank. The central bank debt is due to mature in February 2014, and the commercial bank debt in November 2014. Debt market analysts believe Abu Dhabi may quietly roll over the debt if Dubai is not ready to pay it back next year.

Creation of Credit Bureau in UAE is an essential step

The creation of a credit bureau in the UAE where consumers' information is shared independently is an essential step in ensuring the financial services market and lenders are dealing with borrowers who can genuinely afford to borrow more. Al Etihad Credit Bureau is scheduled to be up and running by 2015. Already officials say that once borrowers' information is opened up for all financial institutions to check, there will be an immediate and freezing effect on lenders. If the agency had existed before - where information was reviewed in a transparent and neutral manner - there would be fewer expatriates to flee, fewer behind bars, and more maturity in the marketplace all around.

Standard Chartered appoints Christos Papadopoulos as chairman for Islamic banking

Standard Chartered has appointed Christos Papadopoulos as chairman of Standard Chartered Saadiq Islamic Banking. Christos, currently the Bank's Regional CEO, Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, will take on additional responsibility for the Islamic banking business as its Chairman and continue to be based in Dubai. He has been with Standard Chartered for seven years and was previously Global Head, Financial Institutions prior to being appointed Regional CEO in 2010.

Al Hilal to issue $500m Islamic bond

Abu Dhabi-based Islamic lender Al Hilal Bank plans to launch a $500m sukuk by the end of the year. The bond is expected to be used for general business purposes such as liquidity management and to form the first tranche of a $2.5bn bond programme.

Dubai Duty Free Names Banks To Arrange $750m Expansion Loan

Dubai Duty Free (DDF) has picked Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Emirates NBD, and Standard Chartered to arrange a $750 million loan to fund the company’s expansion at the world’s second-busiest airport and improve its capital structure. DDF’s new dollar-denominated transaction will be priced at 225 basis points (bps) over the London interbank offered rate (Libor). This is 25 bps inside the revised pricing on the dollar tranche of the previous loan. No lifespan for the facility, which will be arranged. The loan is structured so that banks can commit to either a conventional tranche or one compliant with Islamic principles.

Nakheel pays US$53.7 million to lenders in compliance with restructuring terms

Nakheel has released interest and profit payments of AED197 million (US$53.7 million) to its lenders in compliance with its restructuring requirements. The company emphasized that it remains focused on meeting its commitments in accordance with the terms set out in its company restructure and revised business plan. Nakheel's commitment, achievements and newly-announced projects will continue to contribute to the growth of Dubai’s real estate and tourism sector, including the government target of 20 million annual visitors to Dubai by 2020.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank sees retail demand in North Africa after revolts

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) plans to expand in North Africa as the lender seeks to access more-populous markets. The bank applied for licenses in Algeria and Libya and is considering Tunisia and Morocco, Chief Executive Officer Tirad Mahmoud said. Interest in Shariah-compliant banking has increased since 2011, when revolts in North Africa catapulted Islamists to power. Moreover, the bank wants to be better placed to serve companies, such as Dubai-based mall operator Majid Al Futtaim, which operate across the Middle East and North Africa and rely on global lenders such as HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and Citigroup Inc. Mahmoud said MENA expansion is essential to capture market share from foreign lenders.

Dubai Islamic Bank To Offer 100% Mortgages

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) is to offer UAE nationals mortgages worth 100 per cent of their property in conjunction with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Housing Establishment. DIB will offer housing loans worth up to Dhs2 million over a 25-year period, with interest rates starting at 3.99 per cent. The announcement by DIB is in partnership with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Housing Establishment (MRHE), which ‘aims to enhance the quality of life for UAE nationals living in Dubai by helping them access superior housing’. The move flies in the face of impending regulations from the UAE’s Central Bank that is expected to cap lending for local first-time homeowners to 80 per cent of the home’s value and 75 per cent for expatriates, with lending for additional homes expected to be capped at 65 per cent and 60 per cent.

Al Khawarizimi College offers bachelor degree in Islamic banking and finance

A bachelors degree in Islamic banking and finance programme has been inaugurated by Al Khawarizimi International College (KIC). The new programmes will start from September 1. KIC said the programme will develop a clear understanding of the structure of the Islamic finance industry. The bachelors degree will provide students with the opportunity of learning Islamic principles and methods of banking, economic, finance and accounting through Sharia. Moreover, KIC is also planning to offer more higher education programmes in Islamic economics such as Islamic hospitality and Islamic insurance. According to KIC, graduates rarely face difficulties in finding employment opportunities.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank plans North Africa expansion

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank plans to branch out in North Africa as the UAE-based lender seeks to reach a larger population. The bank applied for licenses in Algeria and Libya and is considering new operations in Tunisia and Morocco. Chief executive Tirad Mahmoud said the bank is seeking to expand in nations with a critical mass in terms of population and economic activity. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank has also moved into countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sudan, Mahmoud said. The bank wants to be better placed to serve companies, such as Dubai-based mall operator Majid al-Futtaim, which operate across the Middle East and North Africa. Banks that comply with Islam’s ban on interest have become increasing popular after the revolts implemented Islamists into power in some North African countries.

Khalifa Fund organises Abu Dhabi Forum on Entrepreneurship

TheAbu Dhabi Forum on Entrepreneurship, which is organised by the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, will take place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) from October 7 to 9. The forum aims to highlight important projects by young entrepreneurs, support fresh and creative ideas and finance innovative business models. It addresses a diverse range of issues such as financing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro-enterprises, the evolving role of young entrepreneurs in the economy, social empowerment and numerous other advancements. The forum will also provide an opportunity to meet potential investors, clients and industry bodies and learn from their experiences in the world of business. Around 69 projects totalling Dh51.4 million have been financed by the Khalifa Fund during the first quarter of this year.

Dubai-Based Insurer Salama/IAIC Ratings Lowered As Problems At Reinsurance Subsidiaries Continue; Outlook Negative

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has lowered the counterparty credit and financial strength ratings on Dubai-based Salama/Islamic Arab Insurance Co. (Salama/IAIC) to ‘BBB+’ from ‘A-’ . The outlook is negative. The counterparty credit and financial strength ratings on Salama/IAIC’s wholly-owned, Malaysia-based reinsurance subsidiaries, BEST RE and BEST RE Family have also been lowered to ‘BBB’ from ‘A-’ . The consolidated Salama/IAIC group displays a satisfactory business risk profile, and a strong financial risk profile. S&P has revised its view of the BEST RE subgroup’s group status to its parent to strategically important from core because the subgroup’s activities, size, and earnings potential have reduced. Despite the group and subgroup’s current difficulties, the rating agency continues to regard the consolidated Salama group’s capital adequacy as extremely strong. The outlook can be revised to stable if the situation at BEST RE stabilizes without causing material financial or reputational issues for Salama/IAIC.

British University in Dubai leads the way in sustainability school

The British University in Dubai (BUiD) organised and successfully concluded its second Sustainability Summer School (SSS)end June where over 50 undergraduate and post-graduate students from various universities across the region participated in a week-long professional development programme on sustainability.The theme at the event this year was “Greener Hands for a Greener Community’. It was aimed at the participating students imparting knowledge on how to reduce the ecological footprint not only as individuals but also as campaigners who would enthuse other members of the community in developing greener communities for a greener future.Members of the five competing teams were proactive in coming up with innovative eco-conservation ideas and making field trips to organisations such as Masdar City, Dubai Metro, DEWA and the Platinum Pacific Control’s building that uses solar energy.

Dubai SME set to host UAE’s first ?World Entrepreneurship Forum

Dubai SME has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the World Entrepreneurship Forum to host the UAE chapter of the Forum to promote entrepreneurial idea exchange and networking in the region. Dubai will be the first city in the Middle East to host a local chapter of the World Entrepreneurship Forum in December 2013. Dubai SME will be responsible for co-ordinating the local chapter through co-shaping policy ideas with regional key stakeholders to influence change and advancing entrepreneurship as a core strategy for socio-economic development. The Forum brings together key actors of the entrepreneurial ecosystem from a pool of entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, stakeholders, service providers, experts, academics, and politicians selected for their contribution and impact to society.

Emirates Islamic Bank supports key social activities during Ramadan

Emirates Islamic Bank has tied up with a number of organisations to promote activities and charity campaigns to mark the spirit of Ramadan. The bank is the main sponsor for the Zakat Fund Ramadan Campaign, which aims to emphasise the importance of Zakat during Ramadan. In another major initiative, Emirates Islamic Bank is the Gold Sponsor for the Dubai International Holy Quran Award which aims to encourage young Muslims to memorise and understand the Holy Quran. The bank is also the main sponsor for the Al Ajer Initiative, to encourage people to understand the importance of forgiveness. Moreover, Emirates Islamic Bank is also supporting the Ramadan activities of Emirates Foundation for Youth Development that facilitates public-private funded initiatives. Emirates Islamic Bank has also teamed up with Dar Al Ber Society to provide vouchers worth Dhs500 to 100 underprivileged families during Ramadan.

Dubai Financial disposes of 30.5% stake in Bank Islam to BIMB for $550m

Dubai Financial Group (DFG) has agreed to divest of its 30.5% stake in Bank Islam to BIMB Holdings in Malaysia, in a deal worth $550m. BIMB Holdings currently owns 49% stake of Bank Islam and the recent acquisition, which completed on 31 July 2013, will enable it to strengthen its banking business in the country. Bank Islam manages a branch network of more than 127 offices. Following DFG's acquisition, the total assets of the lender rose from MYR14.6bn ($ 4.5bn) in 2006 to MYR37.4bn ($11.5bn) by the end of 2012. In June this year, the company divested its credit card operation The Dubai First to Abu Dhabi based First Gulf Bank (FGB) in a deal reached at $164m.

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