MENA

Islamic National Bank in Gaza as sign of divide

The new Islamic National Bank is regarded as sign of divide between the Palestinians. The Palestinian Monethariy Authority refused the license, being the recognised body according to the Oslo agreement in 1993 and Paris economic agreement on 1994 between the Palestinians and Israelis. Alternatively the bank has sent its establishing papers to the Prime Minister's office in Gaza and they have given it authorisation to start banking activities in Gaza.

Unlike other banks, it has no global serial number (swift code) which makes it impossible to work with other banks around the world or even in the Palestinian territories. The main clientele of the bank are Gaza Government employees, approximately 31,000.

Concept of Sharia-Compliant Hotels explained

Paul Rosenberg and Hala Matar Choufany are giving in a contribution to 4hoteliers a set of criteria for Sharia compliant hotels, distinguishing it from merely alcohol free, "dry" hotels:

In order for a hotel to be fully Sharia-compliant, it is extremely important that most of the facilities (such as floors, spa, gym and guest and function rooms) be separate for males and females. This is especially significant at the development stage when designing floor plans of the hotel. Beds and toilets should not be placed in the direction of Mecca.

Neither alcohol nor pork should be served in any of the food and beverage outlets at the hotel and there should be no minibar in the rooms.

See full article for more details as below.

Middle East covers more than half of the Islamic Finance market

Research conducted by Shariah-Fortune screened around 810 companies in 50 countries worldwide offering Shariah compliant financial services. The Middle East covers more than half (around 56 %) of the Islamic Finance market. Around 450 companies are located in this region. Leading countries are the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Asian companies compound to a market share of about 20 %. In particular. Malaysia is one of the key players, not only in Asia, but also globally.

114 companies have been screened in Europe, which accounts for around 14 % of the global market share. On top position in Europe is the UK, boosted by the FSA´s regulatory initiatives. Compared to its global importance North America takes only a small part in the listing for Islamic Finance. Around 44 companies (ca. 5 %) are located in the USA and Canada.

FT Special on Islamic finance

FT has today a 4 page special on Islamic finance. The link below leads to its pdf version (size 10 MB), discussing standardisation issues, credit crunch and other topics.

AAOIFI seeks mandate to vet products according to their Sharia Standards

The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) will seek a mandate from its trustees to examine the degree of sharia financial products' compliance with its 40 standards, its secretary-general, Mohamad Nedal Alchaar, said according to Liau Y-Sing from Reuters.

Lack of common standards makes it difficult to sell products across borders, while possibly enhancing innovation.

Fitch affirms Jordan Islamic Bank for Finance and Investment at 'BB-'; outlook stable

Fitch Ratings has today affirmed Jordan Islamic Bank for Finance and Investment's (JIB) ratings at Long-term Issuer Default (IDR) 'BB-' (BB minus) with stable outlook, Short-term IDR 'B', Individual 'C/D' and Support '3'.

Iran allows foreign bank branches: Citibank and Goldman Sachs among the first applicants

Iran welcomes foreign banks to establish branches in the country and engage in normal banking operations. According to Presstv, Article 44 of the Constitution had heretofore placed banking activities exclusively in the hands of government. In tandem with the Law on Usury Free Banking Operations, these two measures effectively blocked foreign banking operations from conducting business in the mainland.

With the long-awaited privatization law having already come into force in the summer of 2008, allowing the normal functioning of foreign banks in Iran is viewed as a major economy boosting initiative by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI). The rules for regulating the activity of foreign banks are set forth in four parts and 13 articles in the decree dated March 18, 2009 by the Council of Ministers and titled The Executive Bylaw of the Manner of Establishment and Operations of Foreign Bank Branches in Iran. The minimum capital for establishing a foreign bank branch in Iran is 5 million euros.

Under the new circumstances, four US banks, including Citibank and Goldman Sachs, have applied for opening a branch in Iran. The banks made a formal request to the CBI to establish a branch.

Arthur D. Little: Shariah-Compliant Banking is an Increasingly Attractive Option for Western Players

A new report released today by management consultancy Arthur D. Little entitled “Islamic Finance Comes of Age” has identified a surge in activity around Islamic finance as a promising opportunity for the global financial services industry as it emerges from the current recession. With Islamic finance assets currently standing at USD 800 bn, Arthur D. Little expects this figure to surge to as much as USD 4 trillion in the next six years, representing a major opportunity for Western financial institutions looking to develop new partnerships and global markets.

The report can be downloaded after free registration at: http://www.adlittle.com/islamic_finance

Gaza: Islamic National Bank founded in controversy

In Gaza a new "Islamic National Bank" was started with a capital of USD 20 mn reported Kifah Zaboun in Asharq Al-Awsat. The bank is licensed by Gaza without the consent of the Palestinian Monetary Agency.

The chairman of the bank, Ala Al-Rafati, denied accusations from sources within the Fatah movement which claimed that the bank is affiliated to Hamas saying that the Islamic National Bank is a private institute with a Board of Directors and an Executive Body.

Opening Ceyhan Bank for Islamic Investment and Development in Iraq

The Minister of Finance in the Government of Kurdistan province, Baez Talabani has opened Ceyhan Bank for Islamic Investment and Development. The chairman of Ceyhan sets as goal of opening this bank to provide qualified and new services, on the basis of Islamic shareholders for people, companies and government institutions.

E&Y sees takaful contributions grow to USD 7.7 bn by 2012

Ernst & Young released a report saying that the takaful market may reach USD 7.7 bn contributions by 2012, compared to USD 2.5 bn in 2006 and USD 3.4 bn in 2007.

Source: 

http://www.business24-7.ae/articles/2009/4/pages/globaltakafulmarketmayhit$77billionin2012report.aspx

Follow IslamicFinance.de with Twitter

IslamicFinance.de installed on 18 April a new service to keep you updated with Islamic finance news by sending its content to a Twitter account allowing to follow news even by mobile phone, Wikipedia the online encyclopedia explains Twitter as follows:

"Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users' updates known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length which are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other users who have subscribed to them (known as followers). [...] Users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS) or external applications. The service is free to use over the Internet, but using SMS may incur phone service provider fees." Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter

Please feel free to use just another free service related to IslamicFinance.de by following the news via Twitter:

Go to: http://twitter.com/IslamFinance

Yemen receives USD 120 mn from IDB for grain silos

Yemen is to sign USD 120 mn agreement with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to finance a project of Grain Silos in Salif area of Hodeidah governorate.

New license: Tunisia's first domestic Islamic finance bank

Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's son-in-law recently won a license to begin operating an Islamic bank, which would be Tunisia's first domestic Islamic finance bank.

Oliver Wyman says Islamic finance industry to grow to USD 1.6 trillion by 2012

Assets of the global Islamic finance industry are estimated to grow to around USD 1.6 trillion by 2012, a report by consultancy Oliver Wyman said. Growth opportunities lie in underpenetrated markets with large Muslim populations in the Middle East, Pakistan and South East Asia. Islamic wholesale banking needs to diversify from real estate finance to include advanced treasury services, innovative asset management, balance sheet management and securitisation management.

Request form: http://www.oliverwyman.com/ow/request.htm?name=The%20Next%20Chapter%20in...

Islamic Development Bank plans Sukuk

Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) plans to issue USD 5 bn Sukuk, over the next five years to finance its programmes.

IDB's president Mr Ali said he expected 2009 issue would be priced higher and that the new sukuk would increase the IDB’s 2009 financing programme by 15 %.

Global finance structures must be revamped, says UN expert panel

International finance structures must be drastically overhauled in the face of the current global economic crisis, a panel of experts convened by the United Nations General Assembly chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Economics said.

The expert panel made a number of suggestions to support developing nations and creating an international infrastruture for the global markets led by the United Nations.

The panel included Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor of the Central Bank of Malaysia.

Gassner's picture

Sustainability, Islamic Finance and Managing Risk While Seizing Opportunities

I just published an article with the Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes Newsletter, giving an overview about the lines of arguments regarding performance and ethical screens, be it Islamic or Sustainability and what empiricial findings have been published.

It is claimed by critics that the reduction of the universe through ethical screens shall reduce the performance, likewise corporate social responsiblity comes against a cost. Similar counterarguments have been raised regarding Islamic screening criteria.

Bank Sarasin published a study doing own research with partners and reviewing published empirical analyses in the literature. It shows that there is no negative impact on performance. My review of empirical analyses in regard to Islamic finance concluded the same and all publications let conclude that ethical screens add value by way of risk management. An example is the debt limitation of the Sharia tolerance criteria.

Ethical screens may therefore improve the investment decision process and more research shall determine, which factors add value to the portfolio and therefore form part of a professional process.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Address The Growing Takaful Market

Press Release

LONDON, March 30, 2009 -- In a report published today, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services explains the way that its rating approach has been adapted to meet the growth of takaful insurance.

The article, "Standard & Poor's Approach To Rating Takaful And Retakaful (Islamic Re/Insurance) Companies," says that the last five years have seen takaful (Islamic insurance) grow from a niche product servicing relatively limited demand to become a mainstream risk management offering.

"In particular, we have seen rapid growth in the Arab world and an expansion across Europe. A further market development has been the growth of retakaful as a Sharia-compliant version of reinsurance," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Kevin Willis.

Standard & Poor's has rated a number of Islamic insurers and reinsurers and so is able to comment on the way that the rating criteria have been adapted to address the specifics of this product.

No stand alone Islamic banks in Morocco to be licensed

In spite of several applications Bank Al Maghrib, the central bank of Morocco, did not issue a stand alone Islamic banking license. The reasons: too much stress for the Moroccan market and the problem of taxation on certain Islamic products. However, since their permission on the market, the total value of Islamic finance products is around DH 200 mn.

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