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.

Alkhabeer Capital Appoints Musaad Mohammad Aldrees As Chairman

The Board of Directors of Alkhabeer Capital has accepted the resignation of Mr. Saleh Mohammed Binladen from his position as Chairman of the Board of Directors, for personal reasons. The board also announced the appointment of Mr. Musaad Mohammad Aldrees in his place as Chairman, effective October 7, 2015. Mr. Binladen said he was stepping down to reduce his broad responsibilities. Mr. Aldrees , a member of the board of Alkhabeer Capital since 2008, will serve as Chairman until the appointment of a new Board and Chairman in January 2016.

Islamic banks in Lebanon need new rules-Al Baraka

Islamic lenders will find it difficult to compete in Lebanon's banking sector without regulatory amendments to support growth of the Islamic banking industry, Mutasim Mahmassani , the general manager of Al Baraka Bank Lebanon said. He said that the market share of Islamic banking assets in the overall banking industry in Lebanon remains below 1%. Al Baraka Bank Lebanon , a subsidiary of Al Baraka Banking Group, expects its profits to grow by 7-8% this year to nearly USD 1 million, he added. The official said that lack of awareness of Islamic banking options in Lebanon was also a major obstacle to growth, adding that murabaha is the most popular tool of Islamic finance in Lebanon.

Noor Bank to Support Art and Design Exhibition at Global Islamic Economy Summit 2015

Noor Bank is set to support an art and design exhibition at the Global Islamic Economy Summit 2015 (GIES) that will run on October 5th and 6th in Dubai. In partnership with Thomson Reuters, Noor Bank will spotlight new Islamic artwork at the event in its role as the official Arts and Design Sponsor of GIES 2015. Additionally, as part of Noor Bank's participation at the landmark summit, Hussain Al Qemzi, CEO of Noor Bank and Chairman of Awqaf & Minors Affairs Foundation will headline a session on Awqaf as a keynote speaker. GIES 2015 is scheduled to take place at the Madinat Jumeirah.

Faisal Islamic offers 3 proposals to activate central bank's mortgage initiative

Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt is offering the country's central bank three proposals to activate the mortgage finance initiative for the low and medium-class incomes. Mahmoud Idris - Faisal Bank's Product Manager for Mortgage Unit - said that one of the three proposals offered by the bank to the CBE is to raise premiums of the housing unit gradually every year. The second suggestion is to elongate the funding period from 20 to 25 years. Idris stated that the third proposal is to launch a national campaign by the CBE in coordination with banks to raise citizens' awareness about the importance of the initiative and the necessary steps to participate in it.

Oussama Abdel Rahman Kaissi New Chief Executive Officer of ICIEC

The Board of Directors of the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit ( ICIEC ), a Member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has appointed Mr. Oussama Abdel Rahman Kaissi as Chief Executive Officer of ICIEC. Mr. Oussama Kaissi has over twenty eight years of experience in the insurance and Takaful industry. He is the founding CEO of the National Takaful Company, Watania, had also established and led Abu Dhabi National Takaful from inception till 2010. Graduated in 1987 from Indiana University, USA and having worked in USA, UAE, Bahrain and Lebanon both in conventional and Takaful companies, Mr. Kaissi has got diversified exposure to different markets, cultures and business models.

GFH Repays Over Us$37 Million For Debt Syndicates

GFH Financial Group (GFH), the Bahrain based financial group, has repaid US$37.5 million to its debt syndicates. These repayments are in addition to US$33 million paid by GFH to its debt holders in 2014, and represents more than 30% of the Group's outstanding facilities. Today, the Group has outstanding debt of US$ 137 million under three facilities to be repaid on an amortized basis through 2018/2019. As of 30 June 2015, the Group's debt to equity ratio stood at only 0.24 underscoring the strength of GFH's balance sheet.

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