GCC

#Qatar reaches out to Shariah market in #Malaysia, #Turkey

Qatar has taken the lead in reaching out to Malaysia and Turkey through which the country aims to be the dominant player in the global Shariah financial landscape. Under the proposed plan, Turkey would cover Islamic finance needs in Europe, Qatar would serve the greater Middle East and North Africa and Malaysia will continue to serve the Asian markets. The London Stock Exchange is currently a global venue for the issuance of sukuk, while Hong Kong and Luxembourg have also made inroads but Qatar believes the market should be led by Muslim countries. Qatar Financial Center (QFC) Authority CEO Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida has a vision to cover the entire globe’s Islamic financial transactions between three financial centres, Doha, Istanbul and Malaysia, therefore he sees a need to share platforms and technology.

BCG survey finds GCC residents the most globally optimistic

The first consumer sentiment survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group has found that GCC residents hold higher levels of financial optimism than their contemporaries around the world. Only in the UAE and Oman does the optimism level dip below 90%. Meanwhile, the optimism in Bahrain is as high as 96%. The respondents also reported stricter savings habits than international counterparts such as those in the US and Japan. Results from the survey suggest a potential boon to the food & beverage, non-luxury fashion, educational services, and out-of-home entertainment segments. Taken together, these factors represent a significant opportunity for expansion-minded companies. The survey also points to two other fertile conditions; exceptionally high internet penetration rates and a fledgling ecommerce culture.

2020 is the year of sustainability on Arab stock exchanges: AFE’s Secretary General

The Arab Federation of Exchanges (AFE) has been working on launching a development strategy to localise financial technology and sustainable development, declaring 2020 the year of sustainability in Arab stock exchanges. “Reforming the home from within” is the approach taken by the AFE’s Secretary General since taking over the secretariat last year. The most important change was the adoption of a new system for the AFE to restructure its board of directors. The AFE also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Financial Technology Corporation in the Middle East and North Africa, and there will be a kind of joint training for financial technology. Last year the AFE managed to expand the federation’s membership base, it currently includes 21 active members, with 17 stock exchanges and four clearing companies.

ADIB‘s falling revenue rounds up combined outcomes season for Abu Dhabi banks

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) saw profits fall in the fourth quarter while peer Union National Bank reported a surge in revenues. The emirate‘s five domestic banks are battling tight liquidity and rising bad loans due to the economic impact of lower oil prices. Tight competition and pressure on margins has led to consolidation in Abu Dhabi‘s banking sector, with National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank in the process of merging to create one of the largest banks in the Middle East and Africa.

#Qatar to host 14th World Islamic Economic Forum next year

The State of Qatar will host the 14th session of the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in October next year. The agreement was signed by Nasser Mohammed Al-Mohannadi, Director of the Financial and Administrative Affairs Department at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and by Syed Abu Bakr Al-Mahdar, Managing Director of the World Islamic Economic Forum Foundation (WIEF). The Forum aims to enhance the economic well-being of Islamic peoples and communities in different countries and build new business partnerships between Muslim and non-Muslim societies around the world. The 14th session of the World Islamic Economic Forum will witness the organization of a number of bilateral meetings and complementary programs, in addition to organizing an accompanying exhibition, where participants can promote their brands and provide their products and services to visitors.

IIRA reaffirms GFH Financial Group’s BB / B fiduciary ratings

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has reaffirmed its 'BB/B' international scale ratings at GFH Financial Group (GFH), with a stable outlook. GFH's key business lines include investment banking, real estate development as well as the recently expanded treasury and proprietary investments and commercial banking undertaken through its 55.4% holding of Bahrain-based Khaleeji Commercial Bank. The group’s capital adequacy ratio reduced to 14.5% in Q3 2019, remains comfortably above the Central Bank of Bahrain minimum of 12.5%. The bank’s cost rationalisation measures among other strategies are expected to result in boosting of profitability over the coming periods.

Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival to launch 22nd edition

The Sharjah Department of Culture is organising the 22nd edition of the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival from 11th December 2019 to 21st January 2020. The new edition's theme, 'Prospect', will serve as a concept to unite artists and art enthusiasts. The festival will contain 253 activities in the form of exhibitions, lectures, and workshops. More than 28 organisations assisted in the coordination of the festival's projects. There will be 55 exhibitions at the Sharjah Art Museum, Al Majaz Waterfront, Maraya Art Centre and at other locations. These exhibitions will be presenting works of artists from the UAE, the neighbouring Arab countries, and other countries from around the world.

#Qatari banks raise over $1 billion in privately placed bonds – sources

Qatar National Bank and Qatar Islamic Bank have raised a combined $1.3 billion in privately placed bonds. QNB‘s chief executive Ali Ahmed al-Kuwari told Reuters this week that the bank‘s U.S. dollar liquidity was excellent and that it had no immediate funding need. The bank, which is 50% owned by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority reported a 3.5% rise in third-quarter net profit. Qatar Islamic Bank has reported a rise in net profit in the second quarter of this year. It is expected to announce its third-quarter results next week.

'$5trln needed annually to achieve Sustainable Development Goals'

According to UN resident co-ordinator and UN Secretary General’s representative in Bahrain Amin El Sharkawi, the world needs financing of about $5 trillion each year to make the necessary progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Discussions are on to set up a Bahrain-UN trust fund where banks can contribute to projects that focus on education, health coverage, access to energy, social housing and environmental protection. Mr El Sharkawi was speaking on the sidelines of the first General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI)-United Nations joint forum themed The Role of Islamic Finance in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals: Opportunities and Challenges. The first day of the forum was concluded with the third session titled Zakat and Waqf as Tools for Financial Inclusion and Shared Prosperity.

Deyaar and Dubai Islamic Bank to Provide Attractive Home Financing Solutions

UAE real estate developer Deyaar Development has partnered with Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) to benefit from the bank’s attractive and customised home financing solutions. The solutions will enable customers to make full payment on handover of their property through flexible home financing programs, with monthly installments up to 25 years with options to further extend their home payments at competitive rates. Handover of Afnan District, the first of six districts within Deyaar’s Midtown integrated urban development, began in early November. Comprising seven buildings ranging from seven to 16 floors, Afnan District has a total of 659 apartments, including studios, one-, two-, and three-bedrooms, all of which are sold out.

#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.

Al Salam Bank-Seychelles appoints Chairman

Al Salam Bank-Seychelles (ASBS) has announced the appointment of Alhur Mohammed Al Suwaidi as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Al Suwaidi currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors and brings over 15 years of experience in investment strategy to the role. Mr. Al Suwaidi also serves with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, where he has held various positions since 2004. Mr. Al Suwaidi has also served on a number of advisory boards of General Partners. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Chapman University, California, USA.

#Bahrain's GFH Financial Group launches $200 million schools investment arm

GFH Financial Group, the Bahrain-based Islamic investment bank, plans to invest $200 million (Dh734m) in the privately-owned schools sector through its new investment platform, Britus Education. Developed and emerging markets have both seen a surge in private education during the last decade. Britus Education will invest in mid-market schools that can be improved through maximising student capacity, improving academic outcomes and optimising fee structures. According to a report published by Alpen Capital, the total number of students in GCC schools is set to grow at a compound annual rate of 2.3% per year to reach 14.5 million in 2022. Enrolment in private schools is expected to grow at a compound rate of 4.1% per year until 2022, much faster than the 1.3% growth anticipated for public schools.

Dubai-based Fintech, Beehive, Releases State of the SME Ecosystem Report

Peer-to-peer lending platform Beehive has released an insightful new report revealing the state of MENA's SME ecosystem. The report is based on a survey of 175 SME owners and senior management and a roundtable of 13 prominent SME founders / CEOs. Key findings from the report include: surveyed MENA SMEs have more women in senior positions than the global average. 28% of respondents see innovation as a priority for growth, yet only 2% of business owners are currently trying to access finance to fund it. SMEs offer young people a great opportunity for development. 48% of SMEs would hire someone under 25 with no experience. The report focused on key areas that impact SMEs such as talent acquisition, innovation and growth factors. The survey results showed positive indicators such as SME appetite for market expansion and the opportunity for women in business.

Dubai Islamic Bank proposes Noor Bank acquisition via share swap

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has proposed the acquisition of Noor Bank through a strategic investment via a share swap. Noor Investment Group and Emirates Investment Authority will become strategic investors in DIB. The share swap ratio is 1 new DIB share for every 5.49 shares of Noor Bank through the issuance of 651,159,198 new DIB shares in aggregate. UAE’s largest standalone Islamic bank will convene a general assembly on December 17 to seek shareholder approval for the proposal. Dubai Islamic Bank was designated by the UAE central bank in 2018 as systematically important. It is the only standalone and full-fledged Islamic bank out of four financial institutions the regulator considers "too big to fail".

#Oman hires local banks for domestic #sukuk programme

Oman has hired local lenders Bank Muscat, Bank Nizwa and Alizz Islamic Bank to set up a sukuk issuance programme. It plans to issue five-year and seven-year Omani rial denominated sukuk, which will be open for subscriptions starting from Monday until Dec. 8.

Wethaq launches first ‘fintech’ #Sukuk on its market infrastructure using SWIFT gpi Link

UAE-based fintech company Wethaq has issued the first pilot sukuk on its securities market infrastructure. Al Ghurair Investments acted as the issuer advised by Mashreqbank acting as lead arranger, R3 as protocol provider, Clifford Chance as legal counsel and the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre as mentor. Wethaq’s fintech infrastructure is developed on R3’s Corda Protocol integrating SWIFT global payments innovation, gpi Link platform. By using the gpi Link, Wethaq will be able to seamlessly integrate SWIFT’s gpi service into its platforms, opening itself up to more than 3,500 banks around the world. SWIFT gpi Link is a gateway to interlink ecommerce and trading platforms and enables a fast, secure and transparent settlement.

United Arab Emirates: Fintech (2nd Edition)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) consists of "onshore" and financial free zone jurisdictions, to which different sources of payments law apply. There are currently two financial free zones in the UAE: the Dubai International Financial Centre (the DIFC) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (the ADGM). Payment services can be provided by non-banks. The 2017 Payment Regulations limits the scope of non-bank payment services, imposing ownership restrictions in many cases. Payment by way of cash remains the most prevalent method of payment in the UAE. However, an increasing number of UAE residents are opting to pay by way of debit and credit cards. Online payments are increasingly common and various other digital initiatives are increasingly utilized. Such initiatives include the government's Mobile Wallet, Etisalat Wallet, NOL Cards, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Alipay. Dubai introduced plans to launch its own wallet emCash which can be used as a digital currency and cryptocurrency as well.

#UAE's largest Shariah-compliant bank is about to get bigger: Dubai Islamic board to meet Nov 25 re Noor Bank acquisition

The United Arab Emirates' largest standalone Islamic bank plans to acquire Shariah-compliant Noor Bank. The board of Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) will meet on November 25 to discuss the acquisition. DIB said that assets post-acquisition will reach nearly 275 billion dirhams ($75 billion). UAE's oldest Islamic bank currently has operations in Kenya, Pakistan and Indonesia and holds a stake in Bank of Khartoum. Dubai Islamic Bank was designated by the UAE central bank in 2018 as systematically important. The bank posted 0.08% increase in net profit to 1.262 billion dirhams ($343.6 million) for the three months ending September 30 compared to the same quarter a year ago.

#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.

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