The IFSB Announces the Second Release of Prudential and Structural Islamic Financial Indicators (PSIFIs) for 16 Member Countries

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) is pleased to announce the second dissemination of its Prudential and Structural Islamic Financial Indicators (PSIFIs) from 16 member countries. The PSIFI data, which aims to provide data on the financial soundness and growth of the Islamic banking systems in participating IFSB member jurisdictions, covers the quarterly data from December 2013 to December 2014.
Secretary-General of the IFSB, Mr Jaseem Ahmed stated that "The support of multilateral organisations - such as the IMF, ADB and IDB - have greatly assisted the progress on this project. It is our aim to continue to expand the scope of the PSIFI to include the participation of new jurisdictions, as well as expansion of data to the Islamic capital market and Takaful sectors of the industry".

Lack of instruments a challenge for GCC Islamic banking industry: IMF

The inadequate availability of Sharia'a-compliant financial instruments is a challenge for the GCC Islamic banking industry, leading to excess liquidity and an uneven playing field for Islamic banks that might affect their growth, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
An IMF working paper released on Monday said liquidity management has been a long-standing concern in the Islamic finance industry as there is a general lack of Sharia'a-compliant instruments that can serve as high-quality short-term liquid assets.
'The inadequate availability of Sharia'a-compliant financial instruments seems to have forced Islamic banks to hold a significant amount of cash reserves, limiting the flexibility of the central bank's monetary operations with Islamic financial institutions. Therefore, a key challenge is to broaden the range of Sharia'a-compliant instruments and build liquid markets', the report said.

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector support the venture capital industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB), in collaboration with Anfaal Capital agreed to establish a Saudi Arabia-focused venture capital fund.
The joint initiative aims to promote and foster the development of the domestic venture capital market in Saudi Arabia. The initiative leverages KAUST's expertise in new technologies, as well as the ICD SME Program's experience in the development and management of investment vehicles.

Al Baraka Pledges Targets for United Nations' Global Goals for Sustainable Development

Corresponding with the launch of its Social Responsibility Report for 2013 and 2014, Al Baraka Banking Group (B.S.C.) has also announced its 2016--2020 Social Responsibility Priorities.
With this announcement Al Baraka has become one of the first global financial institutions to pledge its targets for supporting the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which were adopted by the United Nation's General Assembly on September 25, 2015.
At this occasion, Mr. Adnan Ahmed Yousif, President & Chief Executive of Al Baraka Banking Group noted that "we are very proud to continuously demonstrate our keen commitment to contributing to the communities that we serve and operate in. Being one of the pioneers of Islamic banking, we believe that we have a greater responsibility to keep our core business model socially responsible and relevant to the growth and development of our customers and their communities".
1. Adding 50,000 jobs across the countries we operate in as a result of financing new and existing customers operations. We will prefer working with customers that are adding and retaining jobs and offer equal opportunities for men and women.

Guidance investments announces first closure of logistics real estate investment fund targeting GCC investors

Guidance Investments has announced the first closure of its Logistics Real Estate Investment Fund, South East Asia's first Fund focused on the logistics and industrial sectors, at USD 100 million. The first close puts the Fund in a strong position to hit its target of USD 400 million with a number of additional closings planned over the next 18 months. A Malaysian financial organization is the anchor investor of the landmark Fund. Other investors include pension funds, a supra-national institution, endowment funds and family offices from the GCC and the Middle East. The Fund has secured 3 transactions to-date, with a steady pipeline in active negotiations.

Malaysia's Royal Award for Islamic Finance calls for global nominations

Malaysia's Royal Award for Islamic Finance commenced a global search to honour an exceptional individual in the field of Islamic finance. The Royal Award, which was inaugurated in 2010 as a biennial award, is spearheaded by Bank Negara Malaysia and the Securities Commission Malaysia in support of Malaysia as an Islamic finance marketplace. The Royal Award recognises Islamic finance visionaries who contribute significantly to the growth of the global economy and social progress of communities around the world. The closing date for nomination is 14 December 2015, and interested persons and parties can submit their nomination online via the website

Making Islamic microfinance happen

Professor Badr El Din A. Ibrahim, President of the Microfinance Unit at the Central Bank of Sudan, discusses ways to implement Shari'ah-compliant microfinance. There are some options to introduce it in the existing conventional microfinance institutions (MFIs). Hence, separate windows for conventional MFIs, not banks, are necessary to extend interest-free finance. Challenges for the Islamic windows-based business model are Shari'ah compliance and the need for changing regulatory requirements to allow for this model. The choice of Islamic windows requires raising new capital exclusively for the window.

Ensuring financial inclusion

One of the featured sessions at the Global Islamic Economy Summit from 5-6 October was on the role of Islamic finance in financial inclusion. This is an interesting subject because it has primarily been seen only from the perspective that Islamic finance is able to promote inclusiveness by offering a Shari'ah-compliant solution to people whose exclusion is driven by their reluctance or unwillingness to engage with the conventional financial sector. While this represents an important segment of the market for Islamic finance, this mindset limits its potential greatly to just those Muslims located in jurisdictions friendly to Islamic finance and within those countries to the Muslims who have access.

Qatari Islamic Banks Most Efficient in Global Islamic Finance Industry

The WIBC Leaderboard announced today the global rankings of Islamic banks in terms of Cost-to-Income ratio, one of the financial performance sub-indicators of the Leaderboard. No less than three Qatar-based banks have appeared in the top 5 Islamic banks in the GCC based on the Cost-to-Income ratio rankings. As per the rankings, Masraf Al Rayan and Qatar International Islamic Bank, both based in Qatar are positioned at the top of Islamic financial institutions in the GCC with a ratio of 20.6% and 24.4% respectively. The Cost-to-Income ratio is calculated based on non-interest operating cost divided by the sum of net interest income and non-interest operating income.

Alkhabeer Capital partners with Al-Zamil & Al-Kharashi Law Firm to develop waqf endowments

Alkhabeer Capital, an asset management and investment firm based in Saudi Arabia, announced the signing of a strategic cooperation agreement with waqf incorporation and regulation law firm Al-Zamil & Al-Kharashi. The agreement provides for synergy between Alkhabeer Capital and Al-Zamil & Al-Kharashi Law Firm in the creation and regulation of waqf solutions. The agreement follows Alkhabeer's unveiling of its proprietary "Waqf" program earlier this year, which provides waqf wealth structuring and management advisory services to educational and charitable institutions, family offices, high net worth individuals and philanthropists who aspire to establish waqf entities.

IRTI launches Islamic Social Finance Report 2015

The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) of the Islamic Development Bank Group has launched the Islamic Social Finance Report 2015, which is the second edition in the series. This edition of the ISFR focuses on the Sub-Saharan Africa, outlining the regional trends and prospects as well as proposing policy recommendations for the Islamic social finance sector, which includes zakah, waqf and Islamic microfinance. It analyzed the regulatory environments and practices in six selected countries, namely Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa and Tanzania.

KSA is the regional leader in built asset wealth in 2015, according to Arcadis report

Saudi Arabia is the region's leader in built asset wealth according to the according to the latest Global Built Asset Wealth Index published by Arcadis. The index calculates the value of all the buildings and infrastructure that contribute to economic productivity in 32 countries, which collectively make up 87% of global GDP. On average, countries analyzed have a built asset stock worth 2.9 times GDP. China now has a built asset wealth of US$ 47.6 trillion, overtaking the USA which comes in second place with a wealth of US$ 36.8 trillion. On a regional basis, Saudi Arabia has a built asset wealth of US$ 3.15 trillion, while the UAE and Qatar rank respectively at US$ 1.33 trillion and US$ 0.45 trillion.

The IFSB Issues Working Paper on Financial Consumer Protection in Islamic Finance

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has issued a Working Paper on Financial Consumer Protection in Islamic Finance (WP-03). The objective of consumer protection requires that the regulator takes adequate measures to ensure that the claim made by a financial institution to sell its products and services is sufficiently justified. The Working Paper lists some important findings from behavioural economics on the relevance of financial consumers' information-processing capabilities and cognitive biases in ensuring the effectiveness of consumer protection measures. It also provides a summary of both traditional and new approaches to financial consumer protection.

IDB's sukuk issuance fosters Islamic finance market growth

The Islamic Development Bank's (IDB) ordinary capital resources has increased its use of sukuk instruments, not only boosting its lending capacity but also promoting the global Islamic financial markets, Moody's Investors Service said in its report "Islamic Development Bank - Ordinary Capital Resources". The IDB currently has a long-term issuer rating of Aaa with a stable outlook. Despite increased leverage from sukuk issuance, the IDB benefits from a large and expanding capital base. because of the recent general capital increase. The debt-to-equity ratio is expected to rise to 125% in the coming years, a level still well below that of other Aaa-rated MDBs.

Qatar emerges as built asset wealth world leader per capita

Qatar has become the world's richest country per capita measured by the value of its built environment according to the latest Global Built Asset Wealth Index published by Arcadis. Qatar has become a global leader, toppling Singapore as the most asset rich country per capita, with built assets of US$198,000 for every citizen. The index, which was compiled for Arcadis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), calculates the value of all the buildings and infrastructure that contribute to economic productivity in 32 countries, which collectively make up 87% of global GDP. Total built asset wealth globally now stands at an estimated US$218 trillion, which is the equivalent to US$30,700 per person alive today.

Halalbooking to launch $1b IPO, an online booking platform in the halal tourism sector, said it was targeting growth, with plans to launch a $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) initial public offering (IPO) in three years, according to Elnur Seyidli, chairman of the company’s board. The UK-based company is still looking at global stock markets for the IPO but said it will either be in the UK or the US. Halalbooking has been growing to three times its initial size per year (300 per cent). The chairman said that the company was looking to grow its consumer base to half a million to a million per year. This will be achieved through adding more hotels to the website. He added that he expected growth in the next few years to come from Muslim countries. Halalbooking is also looking to capitalise on the GCC as a source market.

Mashreq successfully closes an oversubscribed US$ 500 Million Islamic Facility for Ezdan Holding Group Company

UAE's Mashreq Al Islami has successfully closed a 5 year USD 500 million senior secured syndicated facility for Ezdan Holding Group Company Q.S.C., the largest private sector real estate developer in Qatar. Mashreq Al Islami UAE acted as Mandated Lead Arranger, Sole Book Runner and Facility Agent for the facility. Other banks that participated in the financing included Abu Dhabi Islamic bank, Ahli United Bank, Emirates NBD, Gulf International Bank, HSBC Bank Middle East as Mandated Lead Arrangers, Sharjah Islamic bank, Warba Bank as Lead Arrangers and QIIB as asset custodian. The Facility proceeds will be utilized to support the Company's expansion and developmental plans in its core market.

Halal tourism sector ‘completely under-serviced’

Despite a growing Muslim population across the world, the Halal tourism sector is still “completely under-serviced” with growing urgency for quicker investments. According to Andy Buchanan, event manager of the World Halal Travel Summit, there are many untapped markets where supply is low including India, China, and Europe. Halal tourism packages must adhere to Islamic beliefs and practices, which include offering Halal food and non-alcoholic drinks, and having separate swimming pools and spa facilities for men and women. Today, the sector is worth $140 billion a year, with the figure expected to reach $250 billion by 2020, marking a 6.5 per cent annual growth rate.

International Investment Bank (IIB) delivers profitable exit from aircraft leasing deal

International Investment Bank (IIB) announced the disposal of a Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft, resulting in over 30% IRR for the Bank. The aircraft, which was purchased by IIB in a sale and leaseback transaction earlier this year, is on lease to a leading regional airline on a non-cancellable basis for a period of nine years, and has recently been sold to an international buyer. IIB is currently exploring other attractive deals in the aviation market, IIB Chief Executive Officer, Subhi Benkhadra said.

INTERVIEW-Halal food standards too complex-Nestle

Aiad Al Khatib, head of corporate regulatory and scientific affairs at Nestle, said that standards for what is halal, or permissible under sharia law, need to be aligned, clarified and simplified to allow manufacturers and exporters greater access to markets. Halal standards are being produced by several bodies including government-linked organizations, private organizations, independent halal certification bodies as well as national, regional and international bodies. Global Muslim spending on food and beverages rose 4.3% to around USD 1.128 trillion in 2014 from a year earlier, accounting for 16.7% of the total global food and beverage expenditure. The halal food and drinks market is expected to grow to USD 1.585 trillion by 2020.

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