GCC

Al Ghurair Foundation announce grantees of £5.5 million Refugee Education Fund

The Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund announced its grantees for their second round of funding, following the end of the inaugural round in 2018. The fund aims to support 10,000 students through secondary level and vocational education. First two of funding dispersed AED74 million (approximately £16 million) supporting the education of over 17,000 youth in Jordan, Lebanon, and UAE.

Gulf Bonds Go From Haven to Hazard as Saudi Strikes Stun Market

Money managers poured into the Gulf region till Saturday’s unprecedented attack on Saudi Arabia’s key oil facilities. That drove record gains for bonds in August as they sought refuge in securities boasting an average credit score of A+ amid global trade tensions. According to a Bloomberg Barclays index, Saudi Arabian bonds handed investors the biggest loss, about triple that of Qatari securities. The strikes in Saudi Arabia could escalate into a showdown, with the kingdom and U.S. on one side, and Iran and proxy groups from Yemen to Lebanon, on the other. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the assault and warned that oil installations in the Arab nation remain a target.

Assets under management in GCC to grow steadily from $260bn in 2018, Moody's says

The asset management industry in the Arabian Gulf is set to grow, as regional governments overhaul their hydrocarbon-dependent economies and ease regulations. According to Moody’s Investors Service, investment managers in the six-member economic bloc of the GCC had $260 billion (Dh954bn) of assets under management at the end of last year. The Gulf states are trying to overhaul their economies and cut their dependence on oil. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are pursuing their own economic reforms to develop alternative lines of revenue. Both countries have introduced laws to broaden their appeal to foreign investors. Moody’s expects global market leaders to expand their presence in the Saudi Arabia due to a relaxation of foreign ownership limits coupled with more transparent regulations.

Boards of Kuwait Finance House and Ahli United Bank agree terms of possible #merger

The boards of Kuwait Finance House and Ahli United Bank agreed on a share swap ratio. AUB said its board approved a final exchange ratio between the two lenders of one KFH share for every 2.325581 AUB shares. A final decision on the deal is subject to approval from shareholders of both banks, central banks and other authorities in Kuwait and Bahrain. The approved ratio is the same as the one announced in January, when the lenders hired HSBC and Credit Suisse as advisers to carry out financial and legal due diligence of each other’s accounts. According to equity analysts Mohamad Al Hajj and Elena Sanchez-Cabezudo, this merger would increase KFH’s expected weight within MSCI Emerging Market Index by 8 basis points and increase expected flows in May 2020 by $370 million. KFH has tried to acquire AUB in the past, but talks stalled over a difference in valuation.

CBK amends guidelines of corporate governance in Kuwaiti banks

The Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) has amended governance regulations for Kuwaiti banks, allowing them to add independent members to their boards of directors and subcommittees. The new regulations define independent board members and the conditions of such independence. Dr Mohammed Yousef Al-Hashel, the Governor of CBK, said that independent members to banks’ board of directors will enhance board members’ independence as a basic principle of sound governance practises. The amendments also allow a minimum of two independent members from 30 June 2020, then four from 30 June 2022 to avoid unexpected demand for independent members and allow gradual implementation of the decision.

Dubai's Emaar Properties sells $500 million 10-year #sukuk

Dubai's Emaar Properties is set to raise $500 million from the sale of sukuk. The transaction has received orders of nearly $2.5 billion, including $300 million of interest from the banks arranging the deal. The deal is part of a $2 billion debt programme and is offering investors a profit rate equivalent to 235 basis points over mid-swaps.
Standard Chartered acts as coordinator. Other banks leading the transaction are Dubai Islamic Bank, Deutsche Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Mashreqbank and Sharjah Islamic Bank.

DIFC FinTech Hive receives huge response from global participants

Dubai International Financial Centre’s FinTech Hive has announced the commencement of the 2019 edition of its accelerator programme. The third edition of the programme received an overwhelming response of over 425 applications from across the world. Finalists include 15 start-ups specialising in the FinTech sector, four specialising in the Islamic FinTech sector, ten in the InsurTech sector, and two in the RegTech sector. The accelerator programme consists of a three-month curriculum in which a group of selected finalists work closely with stakeholders to address the needs of the region. The programme will culminate in an 'Investor Day', offering the participating start-ups an opportunity to showcase their achievements to prospective investors.

Islamic finance contracts estimated to reach $2.5trn

The Qatar International Center for Conciliation and Arbitration (QICCA) has participated in the 7th East Africa International Arbitration Conference (EAIAC) held on 29 - 30 August 2019 in Nairobi. As QICCA’s Board Member, Sheikh Thani bin Ali bin Saud Al Thani attended the event and delivered a research paper on Islamic finance. During the sessions of the conference, Sheikh Thani informed attendees on the expertise of Qatar in Islamic finance as well as Malaysia’s experiment, in addition to experiments of non-Islamic countries such as Singapore. The conference which was held under the theme "Government Contracting and Investment Disputes: Lessons for States and Investors" saw a participation of more than 250 attendees from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Ghana. QICCA General Counsel Minas Khatchadourian said that the world’s Sovereign Wealth Investments will reach $15trillion by 2020, which represents 25% of the total value of assets that are managed over the world.

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https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/08/09/2019/Islamic-finance-contracts-estimated-to-reach-$2.5trn

QFC joins Islamic Financial Services Board

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has been admitted to the international standard-setting organisation, Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), as an Associate Member. As an Associate Member, the QFC can participate in the IFSB General Assembly, receive technical assistance from the IFSB and participate in Working Groups, Task Force and closed-door discussions. The Secretary-General of the IFSB, Dr. Bello Lawal Danbatta welcomed QFC and reaffirmed the board's committment to promoting resilience and the stability of Islamic financial services.

Jibrel to launch first globally regulated blockchain-powered private financing platform

Switzerland-based fintech company Jibrel Network announced the launch of Jibrel.com after its recent acceptance into the new ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Market) RegLab cohort in the UAE. Jibrel.com claims to be the first fully regulated blockchain-powered private financing platform. Jibrel’s purpose is to foster open financial systems and digitization powered by emerging technologies. Its mission is to tokenize an array of assets in a manner that is borderless, asset class agnostic and customizable for different use cases. The new platform will enable investors of all genres to connect with startups and SMEs, creating new capital formations. Talal Tabbaa, co-founder and COO of Jibrel believes this platform will transform the MENA startup ecosystem by providing access to a broader investment base, so that startups will raise more liquidity, and spur the growth of the sector further in the region.

Emaar Properties hires banks for 10-year dollar #sukuk deal

Dubai’s Emaar Properties has hired banks to arrange investor meetings ahead of the issuance of 10-year dollar sukuk. Emaar Properties will meet investors in Asia and London starting on Sept 6. Standard Chartered was hired to coordinate the deal. Other banks leading the transaction are Dubai Islamic Bank, Deutsche Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Mashreq Bank and Sharjah Islamic Bank.

Mena blockchain firm targets Islamic finance

Blockchain firm R3 has partnered with Dubai-based startup Wethaq to bring blockchain technology to the Islamic finance market. According to R3 CEO David Rutter, blockchain is driving an unprecedented period of innovation across capital markets, with more assets moving towards complete digitisation. Wethaq’s platform-as-a-service offering will use R3’s Corda enterprise blockchain infrastructure to digitise the pre-sale issuance, management and financing of sukuk securities. Interest in using blockchain technology for Islamic finance has increased in the last 12 months. Abu Dhabi-based Al Hilal Bank claimed to be the first firm to execute a sukuk transaction via the blockchain back in November 2018.

Noor Bank collaborates with Unionpay international to launch EMVCo QR-based mobile payment solution

Noor Bank has partnered with UnionPay International to inaugurate the bank’s EMVCo QR-based mobile payment service that allows consumers in the UAE to make instant and secure payments on the go. Customers and merchants across the country can now leverage UnionPay QR code scanning for all their payments. The launch ceremony was attended by Han Wang, General Manager-Middle East of UnionPay International, and John Iossifidis, CEO of Noor Bank. In the UAE, UnionPay is accepted nationwide both on POS terminals and ATM machines, acceptance rate is 100% and more than 60% on POS terminals for the UnionPay card and QuickPass. The new solution is expected to create wider acceptance and increase the number of current QR-code-enabled merchants in the country by end-2019.

#Saudi Arabia warns against dealing in #cryptocurrencies

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Finance has warned against dealing or investing in digital currencies including cryptocurrencies as they are not recognised by legal entities in the Kingdom. The finance ministry stated that digital currencies are outside the scope of the regulatory framework and are not traded by financial institutions in Saudi Arabia, adding that such cryptocurrencies have been associated with fraudulent activities and attract suspicion. The use of Saudi Arabia’s name, national currency or emblem by any entity for digital currencies marketing will be subject to legal actions.

Beijing’s Belt and Road plans could boost the Islamic banking sector

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is expected to spur further development in Islamic finance around the world. Many of the countries along the infrastructure belt are home to predominantly Muslim populations, including Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The China-headquartered Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank had already signed a memorandum of understanding with the Islamic Development Bank to collaborate on various areas including Islamic finance development. Sukuk issuance had grown strongly in 2017, but Chinese issuers have actually pulled away since then. That’s been attributed to the complexities involved, particularly as standards differ across regulatory regimes with varying interpretations of Sharia compliance. Still, financial links between China and the Middle East continue to grow. The relationships have increasingly moved from just trade partnerships to joint ventures.

Kuwait Finance House launches open banking

Kuwait Finance House-Bahrain (KFH-Bahrain) has announced going live with advanced open banking infrastructure, which will allow it to partner with innovative fintech firms. The kingdom is one of the earliest global adopters of mandatory open banking, putting it at the vanguard of customer-driven change in financial services. KFH-Bahrain is one of the first banks to integrate a fintech through the launch of its KFH Jazeel banking platform in partnership with Tarabut Gateway, a subsidiary of Almoayed Technologies. According to KFH-Bahrain executive manager Mohammed Fahmi Hamad, open banking will allow bank account holders to consent to sharing details of their accounts and payments history to licensed third-party providers to make more aware financial decisions. In addition to that, customers will soon be able to link their accounts to independent licensed applications.

#Saudi peer-to-peer funding platform signs with SRB

Saudi peer-to-peer funding platform Raqamyah has assigned the Shariyah Review Bureau (SRB) to manage the Sharia compliance affairs of its crowd-funding technology. Raqamyah founder Ammar Bakheet said the company was developing faster ways of connecting funders with SME’s and also enact the spectrum of SAMA’s regulations in the Kingdom. Shariyah Review Bureau, founded in 2004 in Saudi Arabia and licensed by Central Bank of Bahrain in 2007 provides Sharia advisory services from setting up Sharia Boards to Sharia certification and Sharia audits. SRB founder Yasser S Dahlawi said the collaboration with Raqamyah makes SRB the preeminent choice of Sharia Advisor for P2P firms seeking to offer crowd-funding opportunities in the Kingdom.

Dubai Islamic Bank partners with Arada to provide home financing solutions

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has partnered with Sharjah-based Arada to streamline the home ownership process for buyers of Arada properties. The home financing partnership will allow property buyers to access highly competitive mortgage rates and exclusive flexible payment plans as well as rapid and easy processing without the need for a salary transfer. In the past two years Arada sold over 4,000 units in its two projects, Aljada and Nasma Residences. Construction on Aljada is well under way, with the first homes scheduled to be handed over in the first quarter of 2020. The lender is also opening a kiosk at the Arada sales centre in Sharjah.

Dubai’s Noor Bank launches 3.2 mln dirham #waqf #fund with Ajman Uni to benefit Islamic banking and finance

Noor Bank has launched a 3.2 million dirhams ($871,000) waqf fund with Ajman University to benefit Islamic banking and finance studies. The current pledge of 3.2 million dirhams will benefit one professorship and four scholarships. Noor Bank’s head of Shariah Dr Adnan Aziz said that four scholarships will remain on offer every year, as long as the fund remains intact and continues to generate returns. The waqf amount will be held in perpetuity but the returns on investment will be used to benefit the scholarships. The basic criteria of the scholarships is a combination of academic excellence and financial needs of students registered on a course at the College of Business Administration at Ajman University. The scholarships are available for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Noor Bank launches online #art gallery

Noor Bank has launched Noor Art Online Gallery, a new digital portal showcasing artworks from a range of galleries and artists in the region and around the world. Designed to display diverse genres of art, specially curated for Noor Wealth clients, the Noor Art Online Gallery aims to serve as a bridge to connect artists and high-net-worth individuals. The bank stated that the works are available for online credit card purchase by clients around the world and will be delivered to their doorstep. Noor Bank's Head of Retail Banking Mufazzal Kajiji said that art acquisition was a key area of interest and this platform would add value to the customer journey, as well as promote art and culture in the UAE.

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