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Bahrain's Gulf Finance to set up $326 million Syrian unit

Bahrain's Gulf Finance House (GFH) said it was close to setting up a $326 million unit in Syria as the Islamic investment bank looks to boost revenues in a relatively untapped banking market.

World's Biggest Islamic Bank Planned

Bahrain will establish the world's biggest Islamic bank within the next 6 to 12 months. The creation of a planned Islamic investment megabank is in "fairly advanced stages" and it will likely be launched in the next 6 to 12 months, an executive at a firm advising on the project said this week, Barcelona News wrote.

Fatwa shopping? Not for Barclays

The limited number of Sharia scholars has meant the same group of men are on various advisory boards which has led to criticism that people can go “fatwa shopping” and that scholars are in it for the money. Not so, says Harris Irfan, head of Islamic products at Barclays Capital.

Asya Bank makes mark in cards

Asya Participation Bank is now directly accessing the international financial markets for financing. Asya Bank is also innovating new products including a new card family, under the "DIT Pratik" brand. The DIT Pratik card is a EMV contactless card.

AME Info, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, finance and economy briefs

The following news has been placed in summary at the website given.

TADAWUL EDGES LOWER
ADX GAINS 0.78 PERCENT
DFM SEES SLIGHT DROP
NEW GLOBAL STANDARDS ISSUED FOR ISLAMIC DERIVATIVES
DUBAI'S DEBT IS $109BN, SAYS IMF
GULF STATES SHOULD DROP DOLLAR PEG, SAYS HEDGE FUND CHIEF
OMAN'S 2009 BUDGET DEFICIT SMALLER THAN PLANNED
DUBAI AIMING FOR BUDGET SURPLUS IN 2011
TADAWUL DIPS 0.55 PERCENT
ADX EDGES HIGHER
DFM SEES SLIGHT GAIN
MAF ASSET MANAGEMENT TRIMS FUND SIZE
WORLD BANK TO PROVIDE $250M LOAN TO IRAQ
NATIONAL BONDS DISTRIBUTES 3.53 PERCENT PROFIT
BAHRAIN'S ARCAPITA CUTS JOBS BY 15 PERCENT
RAS AL KHAIMAH RATED 'A' BY STANDARD AND POOR'S

Please read the website to get the full summary of the news.

Promoting reading culture can contribute to SME growth

Dr Saad, who presented his working paper during the 2010 International Conference on Islamic Finance at Rizqun International Hotel in Gadong yesterday, explained how Islamic micro-financing could help alleviate poverty by giving a small amount of financing to those who want to start up a business.

Tamweel stock may begin trading after Amlak merger is completed

Investors could welcome the commencement of trading of Tamweel stock once the government releases the details of the company's merger with Amlak, analysts said Sunday.

Australia wants to be hub for Islamic banking

The Australian government has expressed an interest in creating a Islamic finance hub for the nearly one billion Muslims in Asia-Pacific region and expand the Islamic banking to help Australia become a dominant player in regional financing.

Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina looks forward to strengthen its economic ties with UAE

Trade between the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the UAE has inceased, reaching a total of EUR8m (Dhs42m) in the last two years through investments from Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank and Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah focusing on finance and real estate sectors.

Westlaw Business Talks: Islamic Finance Legal Leaders Turn to Dubai World

A discussion was held between Mr. Peter Casey, Director, Policy & Head of Islamic Finance for the Dubai Financial Services Authority, or DFSA); Dr. Hussein Hamid Hasan (appearing in his private capacity) and Mr. Muddassir Siddiqui, who also heads the Islamic finance Middle East practice for the law firm of Denton, Wilde & Sapte; Messrs. Jawad A. Ali of King & Spalding; Michael J.T. McMillen of Fulbright & Jaworski; Anzal Mohammed of Allen & Overy; and Richard O’Callaghan of Linklaters and Ms. Shaheen Pasha, a Reuters Islamic finance journalist. The session was moderated by Westlaw's Business Legal Editor Jack Bunker.

The panel discussed on the following:
i) the Dubai World restructuring; and
ii) the underlying Nakheel sukuk.

PM to Muslims: Be moderate, adopt Wasatiyah concept

Najib said the 1MDB Foundation would also consider offering scholarships for students wanting to pursue other strategic and important fields like Islamic finance and banking.

ICD, Capitas sign deal

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) has entered into a joint venture agreement with Capitas Group, LLC, a US financial services firm specializing in developing and managing Shariah-compliant finance companies, to form a management company dedicated to the global development of the Shariah-compliant finance industry. ICD is a multilateral financial institution, which is part of the Islamic Development Bank.

Bill offers little support for business - CPA

The recent Finance Bill in Ireland closed a tax loophole used by some multinationals to maximise profit, introduced new measures to increase Ireland’s appeal as an investment destination, and contained measures to make Ireland more attractive as a hub for hedge funds and for Islamic finance. Still it was criticised on other grounds by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA).

Changes to attract Islamic investment 'a first step'

PROPOSED TAX changes designed to attract business from the Islamic world are likely to be a first step according to Department of Finance officials. The Finance Bill proposes to introduce new measures designed to accommodate transactions that comply with Sharia.

Nazir: Appoint minister to promote Asean

Asean member countries must have a minister to promote and champion the grouping’s causes within each country as the region moves towards integration by 2015, CIMB group chief executive Datuk Seri Nazir Tun Razak said

Investor Numbers and Confidence Up as MIPIM Approaches

Some 2,300 international investors, a 12% increase on the same period 2009, have already signed up for the 21st edition of MIPIM (Cannes from March 16-19), as executives report improved confidence in the real estate market and economic recovery opens the door to new investment opportunities. Other major investment topics on the conference agenda include the presentation by Khaled Al-Aboodi, CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (Saudi Arabia), who will talk about Islamic finance.

AAOIFI Standards to be translated into Russian

The Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) is co-operating with the Mufties Council of Russia to translate AAOIFI's international Islamic finance standards into Russian language. The translated standards are expected to help regulatory authorities and financial institutions in developing Islamic finance in jurisdictions that use Russian language as their official language.

Growing interest in Bahrain banking sector

Efforts to make Bahrain and its economy more business friendly has attracted growing interest from the Gulf and beyond, Rasheed Al-Maraj, the Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), told CNBC Europe’s “Closing Bell” programme in an interview from the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

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