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Pope signs Joint Declaration of Global Health with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince

Pope Francis has become a signatory to the Joint Declaration on Global Health. The Declaration comes just ahead of a major summit on global health, Reaching the Last Mile, hosted in Abu Dhabi. The event brings together world leaders, health care experts and philanthropists in order to study current medical challenges across the globe. The Declaration highlights areas of focus which still require attention and greater efforts, such as the fight to end Neglected Tropical Diseases. It is estimated that up to 1.5 billion people suffer from such diseases around the world. The declaration was signed on the Pope’s behalf by Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Arab Emirates and on Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed’s behalf by Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Undersecretary of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi.

Huge Shariah-compliant fintech potential in #Indonesia

For the first time in many years, Indonesia overtook Malaysia in an Islamic finance ranking. According to the Global Islamic Finance Report (GIFR) 2019, Indonesia ranked No 1 in IFCI 2019, overtaking Malaysia that has dominated the index since 2011. Malaysia may have had early mover advantages with a top-down approach in its positioning as a global hub for Islamic finance. Indonesia has shown a great penchant for creativity. Known for being creative and amplified by the market size, Indonesia has the potential to vault ahead in the near future. Indonesia has already unveiled its Islamic Economic Master Plan 2019-2024. Two out of four main strategies are directly benefitting Islamic finance and Islamic fintech. These strategies strengthen the Islamic financial sector and the digital economy.

SAMA updates actuarial regulations for insurance sector

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has updated actuarial regulations of insurance and reinsurance companies and is calling on the public and interested parties to provide their comments and views on the draft project. The regulator seeks to protect policyholders as well as develop and regulate the performance of actuaries in addition to the development of promising career and professional opportunities for young Saudis. Saudi Arabia said that actuary plays an important role in the design and pricing of products, in addition to work on financial reports and risk management and internal audit.

#Turkeys unexpected rise to the top of global crypto adopter

When thinking of countries that are ahead of the curve in crypto adoption, Turkey might not be the first place that springs to mind. However, Turkey has undoubtedly become a crypto giant, and with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently announcing that testing of the digital lira is to be finalized in 2020, crypto is destined to become even more popular. While the country’s government was initially reluctant to embrace cryptocurrencies, the people had always found utility in it. The online payment sector in Turkey had been ready to adopt crypto, but the first opportunity only came when PayPal was banned in the country. Turkey’s Ministry of Industry and Technology announced plans to establish a national blockchain infrastructure. Turkey has a vision of making Istanbul a financial center, and all institutions are working toward that end.

Saif bin Zayed to present #UAE fraternity model to 'Interfaith Summit on Promoting Digital Child Dignity' in Vatican

H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be attending the global interfaith Summit set to commence on 14th November in the Vatican under the theme ''Promoting Digital Child Dignity from Concept to Action 2017-2019''. His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, and His Eminence Dr. Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif will also attend the summit. The summit, which is attended by more than 80 international personalities, is a continuation of the global work in the fields of strengthening international efforts. The Summit also seeks to implement common global perspectives to develop and implement initiatives for tolerance and to strengthen the role of religious leaders such as the Interfaith Alliance For Safer Communities.

The Banker's Top Islamic Financial Institutions – 2019

The Banker’s 2019 Top Islamic Financial Institutions rankings show overall asset growth in the sector. The Middle East saw a bifurcation during 2018, with the six countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) witnessing very different growth to the rest of the region. While the number of Islamic finance institutions continues to grow worldwide, none of these new institutions broke ground in virgin territory. This suggests the geographic spread of sharia-compliant banking has come to an end, or at least a temporary halt. Sharia-compliant assets worldwide rose by 8.05% to $1656bn over 2018. Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have posted strong gains, from very different positions. Sub-Saharan Africa saw its sharia-compliant assets grow 18.2% to $18.79bn in 2018, overtaking Australia/Europe/Americas in the process.

When Religion Tangles With Tax Law: Things to Consider (Podcast)

In this podcast Sam Brunson, professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, talks about accommodating religious practice with United States Tax Law. In his book, 'God and the IRS', he lays out a three-question framework when considering tax exceptions based on religious practice. The first is: Does an individual’s religion cause them to act in a tax disadvantaged way. The second is: If it does, what kind of accommodation would put them in a similar after-tax position as someone without the religious constraints. And third, it asks whether there’s an extrinsic reason not to grant the accommodation. The book tries to provide a basis for deciding when an accommodation makes sense and when an accommodation doesn’t make sense.

Symposium on Islamic Art to open at VCUarts #Qatar

The 8th Biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art takes place at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) on November 10 and 11. The Symposium takes place every two years and this year's theme is, 'The Seas and the Mobility of Islamic Art. Panel discussions will take place on subjects such as Islamic Art in 11th-14th century Chinese port cities, Muslim-centred design, and architecture in the 20th and 21st centuries. The Symposium will include an exhibition at the University's Gallery titled 'The Sea is the Limit'. The exhibition will bring together works by international artists who are addressing the issues of refugees, borders, migration and national identity.

IFSB issues revised draft ED-RCAS for Shari’ah compliant institution

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has issued the Exposure Draft on Revised Capital Adequacy Standard for Institutions Offering Islamic Banking Services (ED-RCAS) for public consultation. The IFSB is inviting comments from central banks, regulatory and supervisory authorities as well as international organisations, Institutions offering Islamic Financial Services (IIFS) and academics. The standard seeks to assist the IIFS in the implementation of a capital adequacy framework that will ensure effective coverage of risk exposures. Additionally, the exposure draft also addresses some specific concerns in the course of implementation of the earlier IFSB capital adequacy standards and guidance notes.

Faith-based institutions answer The Call for impact investing (audio)

Agents of Impact aligned with Catholic, Jewish and Muslim institutions found common ground in using capital to usher in a fairer economy. Last month, the Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative announced a half-dozen institutions with $40 billion in assets have signed a “Catholic impact Investing pledge.” The Catholic impact pledgers are among a number of Catholic institutions carving out portions of their portfolio for direct, private impact investing strategies. Billion-dollar Catholic Relief Services allocates capital to direct investing, blended finance, technical services and capacity building. Other faith institutions are seeing impact investing as a way to complement their philanthropy. A faith-based organization that supports a nonprofit that helps poor farmers in India can complement that work by also investing in a business that buys from those farmers.

Sanusi Calls For Robust Regulatory and Legal Framework To Deepen Non-Interest Finance In #Nigeria

The Emir of Kano HRH Muhammad Sanusi II has called for robust regulatory and legal framework to deepen non-interest finance in Nigeria. He made this assertion as keynote speaker at the 4th African International Conference on Islamic Conference hosted in Lagos. As Africa faces a $360bn infrastructure gap, Sanusi was of the view that Islamic Finance offered an opportunity for addressing the deficit. Since the blueprint for Islamic Finance was rolled out in the country in 2013 it took 4 years for the issuance of first set of Sukuk bonds in 2017 and 2018 respectively. He commended the organizers of the conference and believed that it served as a platform for creating awareness on Islamic Finance as a vehicle for driving Alternative Financing in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Discussing Islamic Art and Architecture

UTM assistant professor Dr. Ruba Kana’an discusses the changing field and her journey to academia. She has recently joined the UTM faculty as an assistant professor of Islamic Art and Architecture in the Department of Visual Studies. Kana’an originally studied architectural engineering at the University of Jordan but was always interested in archeology. Kana’an’s research aims to learn more about Islamic art by examining the combination of Islamic art, Islamic history, and Islamic law. When asked about contemporary Islamic art, Kana’an emphasizes that the field is young. She says that art is an opportunity to see how Muslims dealt with issues and came up with different solutions to express their diversity.

#Saudi Arabia's new bankruptcy law faces key test in the courts

Saudi Arabia's new legislation is part of broader efforts to overhaul the economy, create employment and wean off the economy from reliance on hydrocarbons. Simeon Djankov, World Bank Senior Research Director and Founder of the Doing Business Report, said the bankruptcy law was passed and now investors are eager to see whether the courts actually understand how to implement it. Djankov believes the merit of the law should become clearer in about a year after courts handle initial cases. Only three cases were settled using the new bankruptcy law and around a dozen more are expected to be resolved over the next year. Resolving insolvency was an area of improvement for Saudi Arabia, climbing 30 places to 62nd in the World Bank report.

19 Artworks From Abraaj Group To Be Auctioned This Evening At Third Christie's Middle Eastern Art Sale

The third Christie’s Middle Eastern Modern & Contemporary Art sale will take place this evening as part of Islamic Art Week in London. Approximately 90 Middle Eastern art works have been sourced from around the world – from New York, London and Paris to Beirut and Dubai. With a special focus on contemporary Iranian and Arab works, the sale sheds light on artists from around the region including Syrian artist Louay Kayyali, Iranian artist Manoucher Yektai and Lebanense artist Bibi Zogbé. Five works by Palestinian artist Ismail Shammout are also on offer. Further nineteen artworks worth $1.94 million (Dhs 7,125,329), that were once owned by private equity firm The Abraaj Group, are also being auctioned at Christie's. Other featured artists include late Syrian modernist Fateh Moudarres and French artist Kader Attia.

Fintech Abu Dhabi festival culminates with focus on the next generation

FinTech Abu Dhabi Festival attracted 5,000 registrations and brought together world-class business leaders and FinTech innovators. Future trends in the FinTech industry and the next generation of start-ups took centre stage. Start-ups RISQ and Jibrel Network were announced as the two winners of the FinTech Abu Dhabi Innovation Challenge and took home SGD 200,000 (AED 540,000) each. The panelists discussed how China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is providing US$8 trillion of infrastructure investment to 65 countries. Fintech companies discussed how they are facing issues with many banks not sharing key information. According to Omar Christidis, Founder of ArabNet, Bahrain is the only place that has mandated open banking by the banks, but it needs to happen elsewhere too.

Algorand Foundation announces Sharia certification for Islamic financial markets inclusivity

The Algorand Foundation, the organization that oversees the Algorand blockchain platform, announced that the network is certified for Sharia compliant financing. The foundation enlisted the Shariya Review Bureau (SRB) as an independent Sharia Advisor to ensure the network complies with the critical procedures of Sharia compliant financing. Algorand’s ecosystem has been growing substantially since launching in June of 2019. With the Sharia certification, Algorand is open to Islamic institutions using the platform for economic exchange and beyond. The Algorand Foundation is providing the trusted infrastructure needed to support the growth of a borderless economy. With research led by Dr. Tal Rabin, the Algorand Foundation is incorporated in the Republic of Singapore.

#Oman to introduce bankruptcy and insolvency law in July 2020

Oman’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry said that the Sultanate’s new bankruptcy and insolvency law will come into effect from July 2020 and it will help companies to get out of the financial turmoil. The bankruptcy law allows the debtor to request a protective settlement if their financial business is disturbed which would lead to suspension of payment of debts. Heirs to the business may apply for protective reconciliation if they decide to continue trading. The debtor continues to manage his funds during the implementation phase of the restructuring plan and remains responsible for any obligations arising prior to or after the date of the adoption of the restructuring plan. Similarly, the bankruptcy law grants the right of every trader to file for bankruptcy, in case they stop paying their commercial debts following the disruption of business activities. A bankruptcy case shall not arise except by a court ruling.

Region’s P2P lending platform Beehive funds first SME in #Bahrain

Beehive, the region’s first regulated peer-to-peer lending platform has funded its first SME in Bahrain. The funding was granted to Bahrain-based Mira Packaging Factory, which manufactures disposable cups in addition to other food packaging solutions for the GCC, and the African F&B industry. Mira Packaging Factory has a large customer base in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the regional neighbouring countries. This includes international airlines, global HORECA brands and local coffee concepts. Beehive CEO Craig Moore confirmed Mira Packaging Factory's eligibility for peer-to-peer finance after Beehive’s thorough credit assessment, which determines the company’s ability to repay the loan and provide excellent returns to its global investors.

Examining the case for sharia-compliant alternatives to repos

Matt Smith explores how sharia-compliant repo-like structures can support liquidity management in Islamic financial markets, and considers the structural, regulatory, and legal factors that need to be addressed. Islamic finance is steadily increasing its use of sharia-compliant alternatives to repos, helping the industry better manage liquidity and enabling sukuk holders to increase returns. Central banks use repos to control money supply, while commercial banks use them to manage short-term fluctuations in their cash holdings. Such structures effectively involve paying interest and so are forbidden under Islamic law. Enabling the widespread use of repo-like structures would help expand the secondary sukuk market, which is typically dominated by buy-and-hold investors. Yet asset growth among Islamic banks has slowed, while liquidity is increasingly scarce.

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.

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