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#China-#Bahrain venture fund targets Middle East tech market

China’s MSA Capital and Al Salam Bank-Bahrain launched a $50 million venture capital fund to invest in sectors such as e-commerce and financial technology in the Middle East. The fund also plans to target big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and logistics and networking systems. The $50 million MEC Ventures was raised from seed money, Chinese entrepreneurs and institutional investors and family offices from Gulf Cooperation Council countries. MSA Capital has existing investments in Chinese entrepreneurs who have taken the Chinese model into the MENA region.

Global Food and Water Security Alerts

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang suggested that China needs to divert more water to its arid north. He said that local government bonds should be tilted towards water infrastructure to increase per capita water supplies, which are about a quarter of the global average. Li stated that China needs to research water conservation methods to reduce water consumption. He also claimed that the South-North Water Diversion Project had improved Chinese water security. That project, however, has not been as successful as he claims.

HPB strengthens presence in #Indonesia, provides shariah-compliant IT services to Indonesian cooperatives

HeiTech Padu Bhd (HPB) has strengthened its presence in Indonesia with the establishment of PT Desa Tech Nusantara to provide a shariah compliant cooperative Baitulmal Wat Tamwil (BMT) system. HPB executive vice president Salmi Nadia Mohd Hilmey said the project serves all cooperative members and the unbanked across Indonesia with multiple transactional items. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing ceremony was held to formalise the collaboration. BMT is a single scalable system in the cooperative ecosystem and has the potential to grow exponentially. Indonesia stands at the top of the Asia Pacific region in terms of unbanked population, as three-quarters of its 250 million people are still outside of conventional financial systems.

Muslim investors underserved by asset management industry: Report

According to a study from Schroders and Maybank Islamic, muslims have been underserved by the asset management industry, with limited innovation in product offerings and low growth in assets. As of June 2019, only US$3 billion was invested globally in Shariah global equity funds. Schroders and Maybank Islamic said the incorporation of sustainability considerations was both complementary in philosophy to Shariah investing, and had the potential to improve investment outcomes. The study further found that if investors were to start with a blank slate using Shariah principles as the anchor for their portfolio construction, sustainability considerations are likely to feature strongly. This implies that this singular focus of the Shariah investment industry is all set for an alignment with sustainable investing.

Pope signs Joint Declaration of Global Health with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince

Pope Francis has become a signatory to the Joint Declaration on Global Health. The Declaration comes just ahead of a major summit on global health, Reaching the Last Mile, hosted in Abu Dhabi. The event brings together world leaders, health care experts and philanthropists in order to study current medical challenges across the globe. The Declaration highlights areas of focus which still require attention and greater efforts, such as the fight to end Neglected Tropical Diseases. It is estimated that up to 1.5 billion people suffer from such diseases around the world. The declaration was signed on the Pope’s behalf by Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Arab Emirates and on Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed’s behalf by Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Undersecretary of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi.

IFSB Summit 2019: Technological Innovation for the Sustainable Islamic Finance Development

The first day of the 14th IFSB Summit 2019 remarked the consensus between thought leaders, market players, and regulators. This year's summit is themed "Islamic Finance for Sustainable Development for the Technological Innovation" and speakers agreed that Islamic finance can play transformative roles in the global sustainable development agenda. Furthermore, the technological development can enhance the financial inclusion in the Islamic finance development. From a regulatory point of view, speakers mentioned that regulators have to take the control over the risks arising from the technological development in sustaining the Islamic finance development with an efficient risk management.

Huge Shariah-compliant fintech potential in #Indonesia

For the first time in many years, Indonesia overtook Malaysia in an Islamic finance ranking. According to the Global Islamic Finance Report (GIFR) 2019, Indonesia ranked No 1 in IFCI 2019, overtaking Malaysia that has dominated the index since 2011. Malaysia may have had early mover advantages with a top-down approach in its positioning as a global hub for Islamic finance. Indonesia has shown a great penchant for creativity. Known for being creative and amplified by the market size, Indonesia has the potential to vault ahead in the near future. Indonesia has already unveiled its Islamic Economic Master Plan 2019-2024. Two out of four main strategies are directly benefitting Islamic finance and Islamic fintech. These strategies strengthen the Islamic financial sector and the digital economy.

Dubai Islamic Bank issues $750 mln #sukuk

UAE’s largest standalone Islamic bank has just closed a $750 million sukuk. Dubai Islamic Bank’s 5-year $750 million sukuk sold with a a profit rate of 2.95% and is the bank’s second $750 million sukuk this year. The first was an additional Tier 1 perpetual non-call 6-year sukuk with a profit rate of 6.25% per annum. The bank's lates sukuk attracted orders in excess of $2 billion, representing an oversubscription rate of 2.7 times. Bank ABC, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC, Maybank, Sharjah Islamic Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Warba Bank acted as Joint Lead Managers and Bookrunners on this transaction. The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector acted as a Joint Lead Manager and Kuwait International Bank acted as a Co-manager.

Saudi insurer Malath to capture greater efficiencies in managing Sharia Compliance

Malath Insurance announced today the assignment of Shariyah Review Bureau (SRB) certification and Sharia audit services to help maintain and supervise Sharia compliance. Malath offers comprehensive solutions covering classes of insurances like property, engineering, construction, health and medical for its retail and corporate customers. It currently has about 336 employees and 5 offices throughout Saudi Arabia. Malath CEO Fawaz A. Al Hijji believes that bringing Shariyah Review Bureau on board will strengthen trust in stakeholders and will provide significant scale with low input costs for certifying and auditing Sharia compliant products and investments.

Dar Al-Arkan lists $600m #Sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai

Saudi Arabia's Dar Al-Arkan Real Estate Development announced the listing of a $600 million Sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai. The five-year Sukuk was more than 2.5 times oversubscribed and received significant interest from Middle Eastern, European and Asian investors. This issue was Dar Al Arkan’s 10th issue since 2007 and the 6th tranche of its current $2 billion program. The issue is for a 5 year term due in February 2025 with a coupon rate of 6.75%. Dar Al-Arkan’s assets include about 12.4 million square meters of projects under development. The company has handed over 15,000 residential units in Saudi Arabia and holds a land bank with a book value of around SR17 billion.

Source: 

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/582710/BUSINESS/Dar-Al-Arkan-lists-$600m-Sukuk-on-Nasdaq-Dubai

SAMA updates actuarial regulations for insurance sector

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has updated actuarial regulations of insurance and reinsurance companies and is calling on the public and interested parties to provide their comments and views on the draft project. The regulator seeks to protect policyholders as well as develop and regulate the performance of actuaries in addition to the development of promising career and professional opportunities for young Saudis. Saudi Arabia said that actuary plays an important role in the design and pricing of products, in addition to work on financial reports and risk management and internal audit.

#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.

Institutionalizing Islamic banking practices

The Philippines's new Republic Act (RA) 11439 or the "Act Providing for the Regulation and Organization of Islamic Banks" allows the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to follow its regulatory mandate for supervision over the operations of Islamic banks, and to issue the implementing rules and regulations on Islamic banking. Currently, the country has only one Islamic bank, Al Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines. According to BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno, the BSP looks forward to seeing greater participation in Islamic financing by both domestic and foreign banks. This is expected to widen opportunities for Muslim Filipinos in accessing banking products and services.

Saif bin Zayed to present #UAE fraternity model to 'Interfaith Summit on Promoting Digital Child Dignity' in Vatican

H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be attending the global interfaith Summit set to commence on 14th November in the Vatican under the theme ''Promoting Digital Child Dignity from Concept to Action 2017-2019''. His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, and His Eminence Dr. Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif will also attend the summit. The summit, which is attended by more than 80 international personalities, is a continuation of the global work in the fields of strengthening international efforts. The Summit also seeks to implement common global perspectives to develop and implement initiatives for tolerance and to strengthen the role of religious leaders such as the Interfaith Alliance For Safer Communities.

Beit Al Khair Society spends AED 53 million on ‘Aman Programme’

The Bait Al Khair Society donated AED 53.3 million to the "Aman Programme" through four major projects, titled "Monthly Cash Assistance for Families," "Monthly Food Assistance," "Families of Orphans" and "Families of People of Determination." According to Director-General Abdin Tahir Al Awadhi, the Society selects the neediest families among the thousands registered in its database numbering over 52,000, including 4,194 registered families receiving monthly assistance. These families receive cash assistance on a monthly basis, and the Society has adopted an integrated system of social research to assess their needs in terms of debt and the assistance required to improve their conditions.

The Banker's Top Islamic Financial Institutions – 2019

The Banker’s 2019 Top Islamic Financial Institutions rankings show overall asset growth in the sector. The Middle East saw a bifurcation during 2018, with the six countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) witnessing very different growth to the rest of the region. While the number of Islamic finance institutions continues to grow worldwide, none of these new institutions broke ground in virgin territory. This suggests the geographic spread of sharia-compliant banking has come to an end, or at least a temporary halt. Sharia-compliant assets worldwide rose by 8.05% to $1656bn over 2018. Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have posted strong gains, from very different positions. Sub-Saharan Africa saw its sharia-compliant assets grow 18.2% to $18.79bn in 2018, overtaking Australia/Europe/Americas in the process.

Al Baraka bank announces second #Sukuk issuance to raise R400m

Al Baraka bank announced the raise of R400m via its second Sukuk issuance. The Sukuk issued by Al Baraka will pay a variable return over its 10-year life and qualifies as tier 2 capital for the bank. Al Baraka SA financial director Abdullah Ameed said the intention is to raise the R400m in tranches of R100m. The first tranche should be completed by the end of the year, then the lender will look to raise R300m over the course of 2020. Al Baraka CEO Shabir Chohan says the proceeds will allow the bank to continue growing its advances book, despite the weak economy.

The 1st IFSB Innovation Forum: Revitalising creativity and sustaining competitive value

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) Innovation Forum was inaugurated in Jakarta to showcase innovative Islamic finance products and services with a strong impact on financial inclusion, economic growth and sustainable development. The forum took place on 12 November 2019 along with the 14th IFSB Summit at the Jakarta Convention Center, Jakarta, Indonesia. The IFSB Innovation Forum is a new biennial event to enhance knowledge about latest technological developments. It provides a platform for regulators, policy makers, Islamic Financial Institutions, start-ups and FinTechs, academic and research institutions, financial services providers, legal practitioners, Shariah advisors and other stakeholders to cultivate innovative thinking and dialogue.

AFN To Participate In African Islamic #Fintech #Summit on 29th and 30th, November 2019 In #Senegal

The Africa Fintech Network will take part in "The African Islamic FinTech Summit (SAIFI)" as a Community Partner. The event takes place at the Radisson Blu Plaza, Dakar (Senegal) on the 29th & 30th of November. The summit will host the POC and the launching of innovative FinTech Solutions and will include Keynote Sessions and Regulatory discussions between Government Agencies, Financial Institutions and Startups. In addition, a certified training session on "Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering (AML)" will be organised and facilitated by international experts from West African Financial institutions.

When Religion Tangles With Tax Law: Things to Consider (Podcast)

In this podcast Sam Brunson, professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, talks about accommodating religious practice with United States Tax Law. In his book, 'God and the IRS', he lays out a three-question framework when considering tax exceptions based on religious practice. The first is: Does an individual’s religion cause them to act in a tax disadvantaged way. The second is: If it does, what kind of accommodation would put them in a similar after-tax position as someone without the religious constraints. And third, it asks whether there’s an extrinsic reason not to grant the accommodation. The book tries to provide a basis for deciding when an accommodation makes sense and when an accommodation doesn’t make sense.

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