According to the Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI), global Islamic finance development declined to 8.8 in 2016 from 9.9 in 2015. The report was prepared by Thomson Reuters and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and was released at the World Islamic Banking conference (WIBC) 2016. Malaysia, Bahrain and the UAE continue to dominate the IFDI report for the 4th consecutive year. However, Malaysia posted a slight decline in its overall IFDI performance in 2016. Outside of the top 15, noteworthy emerging countries that have moved up the IFDI rankings are South Africa, Morocco, Tanzania, Japan and Russia. Among the regions with high potential in Islamic finance is West Africa. Unprecedented oil price storm hindered Islamic finance performance, but not asset growth. Despite lower financial performance, Thomson Reuters maintains a positive outlook for the industry projecting Islamic finance assets to reach $3.5 trillion by 2021.
Mohammed Al-Quwaiz, vice chairman of the #Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA), underscored the importance of Sukuk and debt instruments for investors. He made the remarks during the opening of Sukuk Conference with the theme of "Sukuk Market: Challenges and opportunities" in Riyadh. The two-day event was organized by CMA in collaboration with the World Bank. Al-Quwaiz noted that Sukuk and debt markets represent important options to provide funding for various projects and facilities. The conference covers the elements of Sukuk markets, the dynamics of Sukuk markets, ways to create an effective environment for Sukuk market, regulatory issues and corporate governance in Sukuk market, and the role of debt markets in economic growth. The conference is discussing the challenges in Saudi Arabia in particular and in the GCC states in general.
The latest #Saudi Arabian survey conducted by Riyali Financial Literacy Program shows that more than 86% of the respondents have suffered from some form of financial distress. This high percentage sheds light on the importance of spreading financial awareness to manage a stable financial life. The survey also showed that most of the commitments that the participants failed to fulfill were finance installments (44%), followed by borrowing from friends and family (34%), and then credit card payments (22%). In addition to that, the survey highlighted another noticeable problem, which is the high debt burden ratio where monthly installments of 42% of the participants exceeded 60% of their monthly salary. In this regard, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) has set the limit at 33% for the monthly debt burden that a customer can afford, to be able to successfully pay off debts.
The third plenary session of the first day of the Global Islamic Economy Summit 2016 examined whether blended finance is the answer to funding sustainable development. The session explored the role of wealthy Muslim governments, sovereign wealth funds and Islamic financial institutions in achieving sustainable development goals within a realistic timeframe. Dr. Mohammed Yousef Al Hashel, Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait, examined whether the sheer scale of sustainable development goals (SDGs) was responsible for a funding gap, as well as the best ways to address such obstacles. Investments in SDGs are not attractive to investors, he said, adding that the very nature of Islamic economy may offer a solution to these challenges. According to Dr Al Hashel, we need to progress from Shariah-compliant products to a Shariah-based system that doesn’t just mimic traditional banking, but rather innovates and creates new products and solutions.
Muslim NGOs in India will be able to make use of Islamic Development Bank’s Awqaf Properties Investment Fund (APIF) to develop their endowments and generate funds for their various community development projects. According to Zafar Javeed, IDB’s national convener for India, APIF is in the process of identifying viable endowment projects. Javeed commended IDB group for financing about 300 educational and health-related projects across India over the past three decades. He said that the IDB was a big blessing for the Muslim community in India and there were many projects in the pipeline awaiting IDB aid. Referring to ongoing efforts to introduce interest-free banking in India, Javeed said former RBI governor Reghuram Rajan had hinted at introducing the system to achieve inclusive development.
#Qatar’s QInvest said that its revenues rose to $65.7 million and net profits increased to 25.3 million (QR92.1 million), compared to $24.4 million (QR88.7 million) in H1 2015. The main drivers behind the results include exits in the firm’s investments, strong performance in its international real estate portfolio and increased fee revenue. CEO of QInvest Tamim Hamad Al-Kawari said the company recorded a satisfactory half-year performance across all business lines in the face of economic uncertainties. QInvest is reviewing and stress-testing its portfolio to match the heightened volatility levels and headwinds of the markets.
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group hosted the IDB Group Private Sector Forum in Indonesia. The event was held in conjunction with Group's 41st Annual General Meeting. The forum involved panel discussions which deliberated on the activities, roles and support that have been carried out in member countries, with focus on Indonesia. The panel also touched on issues related to Islamic trade financing, investment challenges and export credit insurance. All private sector entities are open to coordinate with investors who are willing to invest in Indonesia as well as other member countries of the IDB Group.
The Council of Ministers presents Saudi Arabia’s vision for the future. Saudi Arabia will transform the Public Investment Fund into the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. They will expand the variety of digital services to reduce delays and cut bureaucracy. Goals by 2030 include increasing non-oil government revenue from SR163 billion to SR1 trillion, raising the country's ranking in the Government Effectiveness Index from 80 to 20, raising the ranking on the E-Government Survey Index from a current position of 36 to be among the top five nations.
The 11th annual World Takaful Conference concluded its two-day proceedings, following the launch of an intelligence report by the forum’s conveners, Middle East Global Advisors. "The Finance Forward World Takaful Report: Connecting the Dots, Forging the Future" was launched as part of WTC’s commitment to supporting the Takaful industry. The Report provides a way forward to addressing various challenges ranging from price wars and pricing regulation, to closing the gap of human capital, and includes contributions from UK & Netherlands-based boutique consultancy, Takaful Outsource. The 12th annual edition of WTC will take place in April 2017.
As part of the training programs provided internally by Capital Market Authority (CMA), Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) has held the 2nd batch of the training course “Essentials of Islamic Economics and Finance” to CMA’s management team members and employees, on March 21-22, 2016, in Riyadh. The course was delivered by Sheikh Dr. Yousef Al-Shubaili and Dr. Sami al Suwailem. AAOIFI’s active institutional membership includes more than 13 regulatory and supervisory authorities (for capital markets, insurance and finance) and central banks. AAOIFI provides its technical and professional services to a number of supervisory and regulatory bodies across the globe.
The international rating agency Fitch ranked the Saudi banking system fourth-best and the strongest banking system in the world, after Australia, Canada and Singapore, said Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency Dr. Fahd Al-Mubarak. In a speech during the Islamic Banking and Finance Conference organized by Makkah-based Umm Al Qura University, he said that financial activity compatible with the provisions of Islamic law is witnessing a remarkable growth at the international level, with an average ratio estimated at 17% per annum.
East Africa could be the new frontier for Islamic finance following the launch of the first East Africa Islamic finance summit in Nairobi. Financial experts drawn from the region noted that East Africa features a potentially strong demand for Islamic services and that its growing reach promises a number of benefits. The Islamic finance industry has seen tremendous increase in recent years transcending its traditional geographic boundaries and its entrance into East Africa could revolutionize the financial sector. The summit which attracted participants and speakers from the region’s key institutions, financial regulators from Mauritius and Malaysia and experts in Islamic Finance charted the way forward for Islamic finance development in the region.
The conveners of the longest running Insurance platform for the Middle East – the Middle East Insurance Forum (MEIF) – announced that a report on the region’s insurance industry will be launched at MEIF 2016 that will take place on Feb. 2-3, 2016 in Bahrain. The “Finance Forward Insurance Outlook Report 2016” will be launched at the forum. The report aims to help leaders in the insurance industry make key strategic decisions and capitalize on emerging opportunities. The report states that in 2014, growth in commercial lines grew just 6.6% (compared to 19.6% for personal lines) which may account for survey respondents’ more optimistic outlook for medium-term premium growth in personal lines. Many respondents are looking into online channels, particularly for personal lines, and into expanding outreach to underinsured consumers.
The global market for sukuk will remain at below – peak levels in 2016, Standard & Poor’s Rating Services forcast, predicting issuance to reach $50 billion – $55 billion in 2016, compared with $63.5 billion in 2015 and $116.4 billion in 2014. The correction started last year, mainly because the central bank of Malaysia (Bank Negara Malaysia; BNM) stopped issuing. Excluding the BNM effect, sukuk issuance dropped by around 5% in 2015 from 2014. According to S&P, three main factors will shape the performance of the sukuk market in 2016: monetary policy developments in the US and Europe, the drop in oil prices, and the possible lifting of sanctions on Iran. The first two factors are likely to drain liquidity from global and local markets.
The Alinma Bank Board of Directors has recommended the distribution of share dividend to its shareholders for the 2015 fiscal year. After approval at the bank’s next general assembly meeting in March 2016, shareholders will receive SR0.50 per share (5% of nominal value). The total disbursal will amount to SR745 million. Alinma Bank Chairman Engr. Abdulaziz Al-Zamil congratulated the bank’s staff and shareholders on a year of growth and success.
President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, led a high-level delegation to the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21)” under way in Paris, France. Addressing a side event dubbed: “Climate Change: Financing and Capacity Building Challenges”, Dr. Ali expressed his pleasure to see 51 of IDB Group member countries had submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). According to Dr. Ali, the IDB Group, in 2014, launched its Renewable Energy for Poverty Reduction Program to address the energy challenges of its member countries via application of renewable energy resources.
In his keynote address at the IFN forum Saudi Arabia 2015, Khaled Al-Aboodi, CEO of Islamic Cooperation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) said that there is still a need of acquiring more knowledge and experience in Islamic finance. Al-Aboodi, while reviewing the latest global economic situation in the world, said growth remains moderate and uneven. The growth trajectories in emerging and developing markets vary significantly across countries, and in general, the outlook shows more weakening due to low prices of oil and other commodities, as well as the slowdown in China. As far as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is concerned, the economic growth prospects is further hampered by geopolitical tensions and security challenges in some countries, he said.
The Global Ethical Finance Forum (GEFF) far exceeded global expectations after the first day of the 2-day gathering engaged the responsible investments industry from across Europe, East Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Over 150 leaders from the Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and faith-based investing sectors participated in historic discussions on various facets of ethical finance with the view of collectively forging the next chapter of the industry through collaboration and convergence. The final panel from the first day included a discussion among distinguished historians on the faith-based roots of ethical finance.
The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) signed a memorandum of understanding with China International Contractors Association (CHINCA) formalizing the parties’ cooperation in identifying and cultivating investment opportunities in the construction, infrastructure and other key industries by leveraging on areas of expertise and utilizing services currently offered by both parties. The strategic collaboration also aims to build a fruitful networking platform by developing and participating in business-matching forums as a means to identify forces shaping the industry and connect key industry players. CHINCA has more than 1,300 members to date, and about 800 members are engaged in international project contracting and investment.
Iran may be about to restore banking links with the rest of the world after years of separation, but the process won't be easy. The Iranian banks' shaky finances and close ties with their government will increase the risks of dealing with them. And during their years of isolation, they have developed a version of Islamic finance that is in some ways markedly different from that practiced in other Muslim-majority states. The differences may make it hard for foreign banks, even ones from other big Islamic banking markets in the Gulf and southeast Asia, to do business in Iran. Major issues are the trading of debt and use of derivatives — these are two very complicated issues in any Islamic financial system, and in Iran we have very different approaches.