MENA

Call for Papers: Global Donors Forum, Istanbul May 2016, 24-25

Resetting Priorities - Redefining Roles

Five years ago, the Global Donors Forum was convened in Dubai to take on a challenging task: to define the roadmap for Muslim giving into the next decade. As a growing network of philanthropists, grantmaking foundations and socially responsible corporations, the Forum lead a consultative dialogue among the thought leaders from which, it was hoped, a new social compact could emerge.

Half a decade on, with the world having changed dramatically as events in the Middle East would attest, the Global Donors Forum 2016, has a new set of issues to focus upon. Foremost among these is the need to rigorously analyse the past decade in order to ascertain how best to formulate strategies to counter emerging challenges. The GDF 2016 will, therefore, attempt to set new priorities as it looks to redefine the role of philanthropy, with a focus on the Muslim world in a radically changed global landscape.

'Excellent future' for Mena Islamic bonds, says NBAD

The future of Islamic bonds in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) seems "excellent" in the medium-to-long term, but lack of supply and right price is "stifling" demand and liquidity in the market, according to NBAD. Finding that oil prices will be a key determinant of sukuk returns in 2016, NBAD said the uncertainty over the likely trajectory in the US interest rates, the bear market in oil, and increasing fiscal concerns across the region all contributed to a bearish tone in the market, causing many issuers to remain on the sidelines. Although GCC sukuk investors remain natural buyers, they have tightened their credit quality criteria, and become much more price sensitive.

Mena sovereign borrowings rise sharply

The Middle East and Northern African (Mena) sovereigns are expected to borrow an equivalent of $134bn from long-term commercial sources in 2016. This compares with borrowing of $143bn in 2015, which was more than double the $68bn that the region is expected to be borrowed in that year, Standard and Poor's "Mena Sovereign Debt Report 2016" noted. However, the ratings agency noted that its updated estimate for 2015 includes an additional $30bn in borrowing by Iraq. It has included Iraq in the survey for the first time, having assigned it sovereign credit ratings in September 2015. All in all, it is estimated that GCC countries' borrowing at $40bn in 2015 rather than the $5bn S&P projected in March 2015.

"Omar Al Mukhtar" social housing project in Sijoumi reaches progress rate of 65%

The progress rate of the second phase of the social housing project "Omar Al Mukhtar" in Sidi Hassine Sijoumi (capital western suburbs) is now 65% and the project will be completed by late August 2016. The handover of keys is expected before the end of 2016, noted the Minister of Public Works, Housing and Spatial Planning Mohamed Salah Arfaoui, at a visit Tuesday to the site of the project along with Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani. The project with an estimated cost of nearly 54 million dinars financed by Qatar through a donation (40%) and a free-interest loan (60%) will help build 810 social residential units.

Banks: Tunisian Zitouna invests on Islamic finance

Tunisian Islamic bank Zitouna was the first to succeed in placing on the national financial market in December 2015 the Islamic bonds sukuk for a value of 22.5 million euros. The result exceeded expectations - set at 20 million euros - the management of Zitouna said. at a Forum on Islamic finance held at Kram in Tunis. The Forum was attended by several protagonists of the Tunisian economic and financial scenario like central bank governor, Chedly Ayari, the president of Cmf, Salah Sayel and former finance minister, Jalloul Ayed. Zitouna bank, on behalf of its president Ezzedine Khoja, has announced it is launching a new business plan in 2016-2020 with the objective of becoming the bank of reference in Tunisia and a leading Islamic bank in Africa.

Au Maroc, la finance islamique émerge doucement mais sûrement

C’est un chantier attendu depuis plusieurs années au Maroc qui sera inauguré sous peu. La finance islamique (ou participative) a fait l’objet d’une rencontre à laquelle plusieurs experts ont pris part ce mercredi 24 février, dans le cadre de la 7e édition du Forum africain de la finance islamique (FAFI) organisée à Casablanca, qui s’achève demain. Le développement de la finance participative devrait permettre au Maroc d’atteindre entre 3 et 5% du total des actifs bancaires, soit un potentiel estimé à 70 milliards de dirhams environ. Au Maroc, des décisions ont été prises pour disposer d’un comité "Charia" centralisé. Les infrastructures logistiques ont aussi commencé à se développer.

JIC chief promotes Kingdom's Islamic banking, halal food

Jordan Investment Commission (JIC) President Thabet Al Wir highlighted the Jordanian experiments in Islamic banking and halal food as a gate for cooperation with Germany to support the Kingdom's investment and economic environment. At a meeting with a German delegation representing the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and the German Federal Ministry of Finance, Wir described the Jordanian expertise in Islamic banking as top at the regional and international levels. The Kingdom is also among the first countries to accredit the Islamic banking system, he said. The presence of many Muslim communities in Germany provides a chance for the country to benefit from the Islamic system in its banking sector, the JIC president added.

Al Baraka Bank to pump $127.7mn in Egypt SMEs this year: chairman

Al Baraka Bank Egypt, part of Bahrain's Al Baraka Group (ABG), is planning to pump one billion Egyptian pounds (US$127.7 million) to support Egyptian SMEs, its chairman Ashraf El-Ghamrawy said. The investments, with a five percent interest rate, are in favour of the central bank's initiative to advocate small and medium-sized enterprises. Earlier, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the banking sector would inject 200 billion Egyptian pounds ($25 billion) to support small and medium businesses. Within this year, Al Baraka Bank Egypt plans to sign a new partnership worth 200 million pounds with the Social Fund for Development (SFD) to finance small and medium businesses led by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

Islamic Development Bank provides $200,000 to finance capacity building project

Jordan's Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhoury and President of the Islamic Development Bank Ahmad Mohammad Ali have singed a $200,000 grant agreement under which the bank will finance capacity building project for societies. The agreement aims to improve the quality of life in rural areas to curb poverty, increase economic growth and integrate the poor in the local community. The total cost of the project stands at $350,000, $200,000 of which will be covered by the Islamic Development Bank while the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) will contribute $100,000 and the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development $50,000. Fakhoury stressed the need to support the plan to enable Jordan to deal with the issue of hosting Syrian refugees.

Faisal Islamic Bank's volume of business surges 7.4% in January

Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt's volume of business has increased by 7.4 percent to register EGP 56.141 billion (US$7 billion) at the end of January 2016. The indicators also revealed that the bank's volume of business hit EGP 52.259 billion at the end of January 2016. Furthermore, the total assets of the bank increased by 7.6% from EGP 51.756 billion in January 2015 to EGP 55.701 billion in January 2016. In addition, the bank's current accounts and saving pools rose 7.5% to record 49.494 billion, compared to 46.048 billion in the same period of the previous year. However, the Liquid assets gained 6.6% to LE 3.081 billion, up from LE 2.889 billion in the same period a year earlier. Meanwhile, the bank accounts inched up 3.5% to 1.157 million, up from 1.117 million a year earlier.

IMF: A Minimum Level of Security Must Be Adopted in Syria in Order to Assess the Economic Needs

The Deputy Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department (MCD) at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Adnan Mazarei said that it is necessary to establish a minimum level of security in Syria before the IMF and international institutions can evaluate its economic needs. In an interview, Mazarei said that the Fund estimates the urgent humanitarian needs and costs, the costs of reconstruction and contributes to the reconstruction of the institutions that were destroyed. He also said that the removal of sanctions on Iran will have a positive effect by allowing the country to produce and export more oil, it has also regained access to its international reserves which will also allow greater investment, and all of these things will encourage growth.

Royal Jordanian closes an oversubscribed US$ 275 million loan facility

The Royal Jordanian Airlines announced the successful closure of its US$ 275,000,000 dual conventional and Islamic secured syndicated facility. The syndicate comprised of seven banks based in Jordan, UAE and Qatar; they are Mashreq, Arab Bank plc, Al Khalij Commercial Bank (Al Khaliji) Q.S.C, Dubai Islamic Bank, and The Commercial Bank/Qatar acting as Mandated Lead Arrangers, Arab Jordan Investment Bank as Lead Arranger and Bank al-Etihad as Arranger. Mashreq Bank acted as the sole book-runner for the loan. The facility carries a tenor of 5 years and the proceeds of the facility will be primarily utilized to consolidate and refinance RJ's existing debt and further support the company's on-going strategic growth and turnaround plans on the short- and medium-run.

The World Bank to Asharq Al-Awsat: Aid to Syrian Refugees Will be Monitored Every 6 Months

The Vice President of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa Hafez Ghanem confirmed that the World Bank aims to give $20 billion to the Middle East to help ease the Syrian crisis within the next five years. The figure is three times what the World Bank has spent up until now, and Ghanem added that his institution has given $4.9 billion to the Middle East and North Africa since July last year and most of this went to Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and, to a lesser extent, Lebanon. The increase had already started before the Syria crisis, when $1.6 billion was given to the region every 12 months. With regards to the monitoring of loans, Ghanem said that the World Bank helps the government design a project and provides technical assistance. Then a team of experts supervises it every six months.

Sisi's fund to establish $13 million leasing firm

Tahya Masr (Long Live Egypt) Fund, originally initiated by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to support national economy, is planning to launch a leasing firm, its executive chairman Mohamed Ashmawy said. The anticipated firm will be with a capital up to 100 million Egyptian pounds (US$13 million). The firm will help provide job opportunities for the youth. Since the fund was initiated in 2014, individuals and businessmen have contributed billions of Egyptian pounds to the fund. The fund's executive committee encompasses leading businessmen like Naguib Sawiris, former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa and a representative from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

Maroc : Une banque islamique née d'un partenariat maroco-américain

Un an après l'adoption de la loi autorisant l'implantation de banques islamiques au Maroc, un troisième acteur va faire son apparition sur la scène de la finance islamique au royaume, en l'occurrence de la Banque participative du Maroc. La nouvelle banque est née du partenariat entre la Banque populaire et le groupe américain Guidance financial Group pour créer une filiale (détenue à 80% par la BP) proposant des produits islamiques. Jusque-là, deux banques islamiques ont été créées au royaume. Il s'agit d'Al Baraka Bank, détenue à parts égales par BMCE Bank of Africa et le groupe bahreïni Baraka Banking Group, et Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB).

Towards a More Enabling Legal Framework for Microfinance in Iraq

In Iraq, authorities continue to battle ISIS while advancing important political reforms. And microfinance – in the broad sense of providing credit, savings, payments, and insurance to low-income households and small businesses – is one intervention poised to promote local economic activity and help manage economic shocks. The 2014 Findex survey found that only 11% of the adult population has an account at a formal financial institution. It also revealed a significant gap between Iraqi citizens who borrowed formally (4%) and those who did so informally (65%), hinting for a much higher demand than that currently served by the financial sector. This is notably because Iraq’s financial system remains seriously underdeveloped, as highlighted in the World Bank’s 2011 Financial Sector Review.

Tunisia, Bahrain agree to revival Tunis Financial Harbor

President Beji Caid Essebsi and the Bahrain Prime Minister agreed to restart the mega project Tunis Financial Harbor, said official spokesman for the Presidency of the Republic, Moez Sinaoui. This mega project is financed by the Gulf Finance House, an Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain, with a budget of 7.5 billion dinars. It will set up the first financial center for offshore banking institutions in North Africa. The Financial Harbor will house a set of shopping centers and residential units and recreation spaces: marina, golf courses.

20 Years of Financial Inclusion in the Arab World

It is a common perception that the Arab world lags behind when it comes to financial inclusion. According to the 2014 Findex figures and excluding Gulf countries, the region indeed reports the highest percentage of financially excluded adults, with 80% of the population or about 200 million not having access to an account, and 95% not having access to credit. Yet, this has not always been the case. However, limited advocacy efforts concerted from within the industry as well as a lack of champions within public authorities both played a contributing factor here. Microfinance professionals can attest that 2010 marked the beginning of a new era, with positive signs of long-lasting, albeit arduous, change.

How Low Oil Prices Are Battering the MENA Region

From Oman to Algeria, the MENA region is being hammered by low oil prices, which fell below $28 a barrel on January 18, a drop of more than 60% since June 2014. Some countries have been hurt particularly hard. In Libya, for example, the World Bank estimates that the fiscal deficit is more than 55% of GDP and the current account deficit is about 70% of GDP. In Saudi Arabia, central bank reserves have plunged from $732 billion to $623 billion in less than 12 months. Some 75% of the Saudi government’s budget comes from oil. Given the deficit, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) notes that Saudi Arabia needs to sell oil at around $106 a barrel to balance its budget. A regional country that could potentially do better in 2016 is Iran.

IIRA reaffirms Shari’ah quality rating of Jordan Islamic Bank

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has reaffirmed its Shari’ah Quality Rating of AA (SQR) assigned to Jordan Islamic Bank (JIB). Rating derives strength from JIB’s evident commitment to Shari’ah compliance, which stems at the helm of the institution and is cultivated across management cadres. It is in majority owned by Albaraka Banking Group (ABG). The rating is also supported by Jordan’s effective regulatory Shari’ah governance standards, which with recent revisions are closely aligned with best practice. The bank has been proactive in adopting the revisions in central bank guidelines, and their full implementation is targeted to be achieved within the ongoing year.

Syndicate content