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Whether you are an academic or practionner: If you wish to see your paper published on IslamicFinance.de please send us the relevant document along with a confirmation that you hold the copyrights of it and we can upload the work with your abstract provided.

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Michael Saleh Gassner

Debate sparked between MEPs and philanthropists on Idea of single market philanthropy

Members of European Parliament, representatives of the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee discussed creating a European space for donors and fostering cross-border giving. The debate was entitled 'Single Market for Philanthropy – Helping unlock the potential for public good across Europe' and saw the emergence of a cross-party alliance between Greens, Renew, EPP and S&D. To create a European space for donors, MEPs Sven Giegold and Sergey Lagodinsky discussed a potential proposal for a 29th regime of a 'European public benefit statute'. Regulatory tax barriers, affecting cross-border philanthropy within the EU, currently undermine this. The Romanian Council Presidency issued an EESC opinion on Philanthropy, calling on the EU to promote organised philanthropy, and asking for elimination of barriers within the internal market.

Inspired by the East review: British Museum looks at how Islamic world influenced western art

Over the past 15 years the British Museum has played a valuable educative role in Middle Eastern culture. It has shown us the legendary Babylon, introduced us to Persia’s great potentate, Shah Abbas, opened up the imperial court of Ashurbanipal, travelled to Afghanistan, the crossroads of ancient culture, and acted as tour guide on the Hajj. A splendid new suite of permanent galleries has also been opened to show off a world-class collection of Islamic treasures and explore their wider significance.

MICROFINANCE PAPER WRAP-UP: “Analysis of the Strategy of #Microfinance for Financial Inclusion of Refugees,” published by the European Microfinance Network

Turkey is host to an estimated 4 million refugees, more than are living in any other country. This paper assesses “the feasibility of microfinance as an appropriate strategy for the financial inclusion of refugees in Turkey.” The authors identify some of the risks of lending to refugee populations and steps that can be taken to mitigate them. Borrowed funds may be used for unapproved purposes such as to repay other debts. This may be mitigated by visiting the borrower’s place of work to assess how the credit is to be used. Excluding local residents from lending programs can create resentment. This may be mitigated by issuing loans to groups whose members span both the local and refugee populations. Refugees may move away, making recovery of loan repayments more challenging. This can be mitigated by assessing a loan applicant’s level of integration into the local community.

Islamic fintech pioneers test creative ways to engage consumers

Many Muslims’ reliance on community offers opportunities including halal robo-advice.

4 types of data necessary for outcome-based financing

The U.N. General Assembly is underway this week, and the global development community has descended upon New York en masse. Impact bonds are just one example of outcome-based financing, where private investors provide upfront capital, repaid conditional on the achievement of pre-determined metrics. Although evidence is sparse on the relative merits of this mechanism, millions of dollars are being invested in their design and implementation.

The Musée du Louvre, Paris, opens new and expanded spaces for exploring Islamic Arts supported by Alwaleed Philanthropies

The Musée du Louvre officially opened new and expanded spaces to explore Islamic art with the support of Alwaleed Philanthropies. The new exhibition space offers visitors an immersive introduction to Islamic art. The center showcases a diverse range of art and artifacts stretching from Spain to India and explains the evolution of Islamic art in style, form and medium. Louvre President Jean Luc-Martinez hopes to reach even more visitors, and provide them the keys to understanding the wonderful artistic heritage. The new and expanded spaces for exploring Islamic art has been designed to offer full disability access and includes a series of interactive displays.

Jibrel to launch first globally regulated blockchain-powered private financing platform

Switzerland-based fintech company Jibrel Network announced the launch of Jibrel.com after its recent acceptance into the new ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Market) RegLab cohort in the UAE. Jibrel.com claims to be the first fully regulated blockchain-powered private financing platform. Jibrel’s purpose is to foster open financial systems and digitization powered by emerging technologies. Its mission is to tokenize an array of assets in a manner that is borderless, asset class agnostic and customizable for different use cases. The new platform will enable investors of all genres to connect with startups and SMEs, creating new capital formations. Talal Tabbaa, co-founder and COO of Jibrel believes this platform will transform the MENA startup ecosystem by providing access to a broader investment base, so that startups will raise more liquidity, and spur the growth of the sector further in the region.

Chevening OCIS/ Abdullah Gül Fellowship applications are now open

The Chevening Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) Fellowships are aimed at mid-career academics or professionals who are dedicated to a more informed understanding of the culture and civilisation of Islam and contemporary Muslim societies. Chevening OCIS Fellowship and Chevening OCIS Abdullah Gül Fellowship are a collaboration between the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and OCIS. The fellowship programmes will commence in October 2020. Fellows will need to develop their own research project to focus on during their fellowship prior to arriving in the UK. The Chevening OCIS Abdullah Gül Fellowship is available to applicants from Turkey. All applications for a Chevening Award must be made through the Chevening designated online application system (OAS), which can be accessed through www.chevening.org.

ADIB UK provides Dh120m acquisition funding

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) UK has provided financing for The Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME) to acquire a Dh120 million (£26.95 million) Grade A office building in Edinburgh. The building is now leased to Centrica as their corporate headquarters in Scotland until 2035. The building has received several design awards including the Scottish Design Award for Commercial Interior and the British Council for Offices National and Regional Awards for Commercial Workplace. BLME is a UK Shari’ah compliant bank with a branch in the Dubai International Financial Centre, regulated by the DFSA. Boubyan Bank is BLME’s largest shareholder. BLME sources and co-invests in commercial real estate opportunities alongside professional investors from the Middle East.

ACCA hosts Dr Amjad, founder of Islamic micro finance

Dr Muhammad Amjad Saqib, the founder of the Islamic micro finance company, Akhuwat, met with Alan Hatfield, executive director for strategy and development at ACCA London headquarters. In Pakistan, micro finance is proving popular amongst the growing SME sector. The country’s SME development authority calculates that nearly 90% of companies are SMEs, most of them operating in the informal sector, so the demand for micro finance is also growing. Akhuwat has opened over 850 branches in 486 cities/towns across Pakistan, enabling over 3.5 Million families to become self-reliant by extending interest-free loans worth more than £400 million. Dr Saqib's latest initiative is called Akhuwat University, which will provide higher education without any tuition fee to support the upward social mobility in the country.

Reflections on legal barriers to cross-border #philanthropy in Europe

The European Union has rules implementing a single market for for-profit activities while nonprofit, philanthropic activities lack any comparable system. There is increasingly a 'closing space' for civil society organizations engaged in cross-border activities. The legal barriers to cross-border philanthropy represent complex issues in Europe, especially since they reflect the larger division over the extent of European integration and union. Addressing them therefore requires diligence, creativity, and an appreciation of the larger political context. The European organizations have all of these characteristics.
It is their efforts that have led to growing support for philanthropy, as demonstrated most recently by the European Philanthropy Manifesto and the European Economic and Social Committee’s opinion on 'European philanthropy: an untapped potential'.

#Saudi Arabia's Arbah Capital buys Glasgow's Sauchiehall building

Saudi Arabia-based Arbah Capital has acquired the Sauchiehall building in Glasgow, UK, valued at $76m (SAR285m), through a sharia'a-compliant investment structure. Arbah Capital stated that the acquisition represented a core long term investment and would help attain value at a time of uncertainty in the UK. The investment firm added that the Sauchiehall building aligned with its main strategy to focus on acquisitions of distinctive assets. The mixed-use property is a 2.87ha LG+G+6F structure, and features a multi-storey car park as well. Arbah Capital's CEO Mahmood Al Kooheji says this purchase enhances Arbah’s strategic alliances and relationships which further supports its position as an international gateway into the investment market.

London VC Hambro Perks to invest in 'two to three' Islamic startups

The UK hosted its first halal startup pitch event in mid-June, when five prominent Islamic SMEs met with investors to showcase their wares. Prominent Islamic SMEs at the 'Smart Capital Startup Pitches' event included VIP halal travel firm Serendipity Tailormade, Muslim lifestyle platform Salam Planet and halal e-commerce site OneAgrix. The event was hosted by London-based venture capital firm Hambro Perks, who plans to invest this year in "two or three" of the start-ups that featured at the pitch event. Hambro Perks managing director Ali Qaiser said rapidly growing populations in emerging markets offer ripe regions for halal technology products and services. The company made its first investment when it funded British Muslim dating app MuzMatch. Qaiser expects halal tourism to take off. He also expects to see massive growth in the 'gamification' of Islamic lifestyles, such as apps to help prayer rituals and maps for Hajj pilgrimage.

College launches degrees in Islamic finance

Dundee’s Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education is collaborating with the University of Dundee to offer qualifications in MSc Islamic Finance, MSc Islamic Banking and Finance and MSc Islamic Banking, Finance and International Business. Dr Salah Alhammadi, assistant professor in Islamic economics at Al-Maktoum College, said Islamic finance has been adopted in Muslim majority countries as well as non-Muslim countries. The London Stock Exchange recently claimed that the UK is leading western countries in Islamic Finance. Designed for students who have completed an undergraduate degree and are now looking to specialise, the programmes are suitable for those with a background in finance and business but also anyone new to the subject.

The #UK can be a world leader in Islamic finance

According to Al Rayan Bank CFO Amir Firdaus, Islamic finance is reinforcing the UK’s position as a global financial hub. London is the leading centre for Islamic finance outside the Muslim world, with assets of UK-based institutions that offer Islamic finance services totalling more than $5bn. More than 20 banks in the UK offer Islamic services, and five of these banks are fully Sharia-compliant, including Al Rayan Bank. Al Rayan currently provides Islamic financial products to more than 85,000 customers in the UK. Last year, Al Rayan became the first bank in the world to issue a public sterling sukuk in a non-Muslim country. The London-listed £250m securitisation was rated AAA by Standard & Poor’s and Aaa by Moody’s Investors Service and was significantly oversubscribed. The appeal of Islamic finance is growing steadily, more than a third of Al Rayan Bank’s customers are currently believed to be non-Muslim.

Paper by Torkel Brekke: Halal Money: Financial #inclusion and demand for Islamic banking in #Norway

Financial inclusion is high on the agenda for governments as well as for organizations such as the World Bank.

Research has pointed out that Muslims worldwide are less included in the formal financial system than non-Muslims, but there is no knowledge about the extent to which religious norms (most importantly the ban on interest on money) lead to financial exclusion among Muslims in the West.

In this article I approach the issue of financial exclusion and inclusion through three interrelated questions that will be answered with data collected in Norway 2015 and 2016.

The questions are:
(a) To what extent do Muslims see conventional banking as a problem in their own lives?
(b) Do level of education, age, national background or level of religiosity predict demand for Islamic banking?
(c) Is demand for Islamic banking changing?

This article is a first step in what should be a broader research program to find out whether and how religious norms cause financial exclusion of Muslims in the West.

Bricklane receives Shariah accreditation for its residential property investment #funds

Bricklane’s funds have been certified as compliant by the Shariah Committee of Minarah Consulting chaired by Sheikh Faizal Manjoo. Through Bricklane’s online platform, individuals can invest flexibly in geographically focussed funds that buy and let residential properties, one focussed on London, and another on the Regional Capitals of Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. Available through ISAs and SIPPs, and with Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) tax status, it is the most tax-efficient way to invest in UK residential property. Performance for the Bricklane funds has been strong in both absolute and relative terms, with the Regional Capitals fund returning 8.7% to investors in its first year, and its London fund returning 10% at its first anniversary in July 2018.

Sharia Compliant #Cryptocurrency Exchange Sets its Sights on #Malta

Malta continues to take the lead in attracting blockchain and cryptocurrency ventures and now also in the upcoming Islamic finance scene. The new Sharia compliant cryptocurrency exchange Huulk has applied for a digital exchange license in Malta and hopes to partner with several European exchanges in the coming weeks. According to Huulk CEO Ibrahim Mohammed, Malta’s Bianchi Holdings would be an equity partner in the exchange. Bianchi Holdings Chairman Michael Bianchi is also involved in other blockchain and cryptocurrency ventures. The Huulk exchange is aiming to list around 20 Islamic fintech firms, some of which operate in Muslim-majority countries like Turkey and Malaysia. OneGram also plans to list its own sharia-compliant cryptocurrency on the exchange by mid-September. OneGram has sold around $400 million in gold-backed tokens over the past year.

Wahed Invest launches #UK’s first easy access digital Halal investment platform

Wahed Invest has launched the UK’s first Halal online investment platform that is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. This way savers from all income brackets can easily invest in a globally diversified portfolio of ethically responsible stocks, Islamic bonds and gold. The platform, which is already available in the USA across all 50 states, allows users to open an account in minutes with a minimum investment of £100. For the first time, mainstream investors can gain access to products not traditionally available to retail investors, such as Sukuk. In order to ensure all returns are Halal, Wahed has a full-time Ethical Review Board. The Ethical Board is chaired by Sheikh Taha Abdul Basser alongside Sheikh Humza Maqbool Chaudhry and Sheikh Musa Furber.

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