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UN chief calls for solidarity in Eid Al Fitr message

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for solidarity and unity in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic in his Eid message. He called for solidarity for a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive health response, guided by the World Health Organization, with a focus on developing countries and vulnerable people. He called for solidarity in tackling the devastating socio-economic dimensions of the crisis - keeping households afloat and businesses solvent, and prioritising the most affected: women, older people, children, low-wage earners and other vulnerable groups.

Ziina launches #UAE's first social P2P payments solution

Ziina, the UAE's first licensed social peer-to-peer (P2P) payment application, has raised a pre-seed round of $850,000. The application will help the UAE bank account holders to use their smartphones to send and receive money as easily as sending a text message. Ziina is the latest addition to the Middle East's fintech ecosystem and is capitalising on the region's rapid adoption of fintech friendly regulation. Ziina's cofounders are Faisal Toukan, CEO, Sarah Toukan, Chief Product Officer, and Andrew Gold, VP Engineering. They are joined by a strong advisory board including serial entrepreneur Samih Toukan, and Emre Tok. The founding team recently launched the start-up's operations out of Dubai's In5 tech start-up incubator.

Egyptians pay tribute to Saudi businessman Saleh Kamel

Egyptians have been paying tribute to Saudi businessman Saleh Kamel who died in Jeddah on Monday after suffering a heart attack. Members of the country’s business, political, religious, and entertainment communities joined in mourning the passing of the prominent figure. Kamel, who was the chairman and founder of the Dallah Al-Baraka Group established part of his economic empire in Egypt including Arab Radio and Television (ART), and Al-Baraka Bank. He also used the ART Institution to fund charity projects throughout Egypt. Kamel had always been a strong supporter of Egypt and in March 2015 headed a delegation of 100 businessmen and investors at a major conference in Sharm El-Sheikh aimed at boosting the Egyptian economy.

The legacy of Saudi tycoon Saleh Kamel

Saudi billionaire Saleh Kamel died on Monday and has been buried in Makkah, but his legacy is sure to endure. Even at the age of 79, despite suffering from age-related health issues, Kamel remained active and busy. After graduating, he worked at the Saudi Ministry of Finance. After 10 years with the ministry, Kamel moved to the private sector. He founded his flagship Dallah Al-Baraka Holding Company in 1969 in Riyadh. He expanded the Group's acitivity to include financial and banking services, health care, manufacturing, real estate, tourism, trading and more. Dallah Al-Baraka Group also has the honor of being chosen to clean and sterilize the Two Holy Mosques. Kamel was also a well-known investor in the media and satellite television production. He established Arab Radio and Television and formed a partnership with the Arab MBC channel. Dubbed "the father of contemporary Islamic finance", he received Malaysia’s Royal Award for Islamic Finance in November 2010. The tycoon’s wealth was estimated to be about $2.3 billion. Kamel aspired to creating jobs. He believed that all people should have dignity and that all lives are precious and deserve to be honored.

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector signed a collaboration MoU with FINTERRA Pte Ltd

Mr. Ayman Sejiny, the CEO of The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and Mr. Satesh Khemlani, the Managing Director of Finterra, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to achieve sustainable business growth. Both organizations have common beneficiaries and share similar social impact development goals. The collaboration with Finterra is based on its highly powered blockchain solutions for Islamic social finance under the names of SadaqahChain®, WAQFChain® and ZakatChain®. The MoU was digitally signed during a virtual signing ceremony. The parties will explore opportunities of blockchain in OIC member countries in close collaboration with national licensed crowd-lending/crowd-funding operators.

NMC Health administrators are said to have started selling off assets

Administrators of NMC Health have started selling off assets of the troubled Middle Eastern hospital operator as they seek funds to pay back creditors. Administrators are planning to start a sale process for NMC’s lucrative fertility business as soon as June or July. They are considering eventually selling most of the company’s assets, potentially including the flagship hospital business, which is the biggest private health-care provider in the Middle East.

BIBF and UK firm Cogneum developing platform to converge Shariah governance and UN SDGs

The Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF) is working with UK-based developer Cogneum on a Shariah governance software platform. The cloud-based platform is meant to allow Islamic banks and financial institutions to streamline their internal Shariah governance processes, facilitate the integration of Maqasid al Shariah and the UN SDGs in their workflow. The software will help reduce charitable write-offs by Islamic banks due to Shariah non-compliance issues. The partners will initially target the platform for retail Islamic banks. BIBF director Mujtaba Khalid said the Shariah governance framework of the software solution will be based on AAOIFI Standards but can also be customized as per the banks’ Shariah governance manual. He added that the platform can also help organisations in the areas of green bonds, sukuk and sustainability risk reporting.

Albaraka Türk's 5th International Calligraphy Competition Exhibition on Instagram

The fifth International Albaraka Calligraphy Competition Exhibition meets art lovers on Instagram. Albaraka Türk continues to boost its success in culture and art events as well as in participation banking. The fifth edition of the bank’s International Calligraphy Competition Exhibition was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and later went online on Instagram. The works in the competition have been decorated with illumination and included in the collection. The exhibition has been given a new form with unique content and presented to art lovers on Albaraka Sanat's official Instagram account ( https://www.instagram.com/albarakasanat/) with over 70 stories in total.

World’s first Halal network launched aiming to tap $5 tr market

The world’s First Halal Angels Network was launched to help investors, businesses, entrepreneurs and startups during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Network would provide huge market opportunities to tap the $5 trillion worth Halal consumer global market. It is founded by Indian American Dr. Tausif Malik, who is a serial entrepreneur based out of Pune, India, and Chicago, USA. He said India is the biggest manufacturer of Halal consumer goods and has huge market opportunities in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. Halal Angels Network would be the 1st Angels Network backed by Blockchain technology. The areas of interest for investments would be future technologies (Blockchain, Fintech AI, etc), Modest Fashion & Cosmetics, Retail, Pharmaceuticals, Food Cafe & Restaurants, Processed Food & Tourism.

NMC CFO and family left UAE on Indian repatriation flight: reports

NMC Health is at the centre of a multi-billion dollar fraud investigation, but its chief financial officer (CFO) Suresh Krishnamoorthy has left the UAE and returned to India. Krishnamoorthy stepped down as CFO in 2017 when Prasanth Manghat took over as the NMC CEO, but was reinstated in February this year when the company's financial troubles came to light. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), which has $981 million worth of exposure in the healthcare provider, successfully applied to UK courts to have the company placed into administration and NMC has subsequently been removed from the London Stock Exchange.

Gulf bonds prove resilience amid virus-induced adversity

As investors dealt with volatility across most of its prized asset classes, Gulf bonds are emerging resilient after yet another crisis. The region’s debt markets did witness instances of sharp sell-off in the last few weeks, but analysts still see them ending the year strong. According to capital markets expert Anita Yadav, this year total new bond issuances will likely surpass the record $101 billion raised in 2019. So far this year, the GCC bond markets have stayed resilient, having in recent weeks only sold off 60% of emerging market debt and roughly 50% of high-yield debt. Net debt of sovereigns in the region still remains relatively low and credit ratings are relatively high compared with that of other emerging market countries.

Should big money give poor nations debt relief to fight COVID-19?

On May 1 G20 nations gave debtors a payment holiday until the end of the year, giving developing nations more time to pay for healthcare during the pandemic. Despite more than 100 countries applying to the International Monetary Fund for emergency aid, the IMF and World Bank have not been so generous, insisting nations keep repaying interest on debt. Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said private institutions are owed $18bn by the world's poorest nations this year. If they were to suspend half that amount, that would provide an additional $9bn to fight COVID-19.

Unified legislative framework for Islamic finance launched

Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the launch of a new initiative to create a unified global legal and legislative framework for the Islamic finance sector. The framework is set to enable the Islamic economy to expand its reach and responds to calls for greater standardisation within the sector. A memorandum of understanding has already been signed between Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). Furthermore, Norton Rose Fulbright has been recently appointed to provide legal advice in drafting the code for the global framework.

Abu Dhabi based NMC Health’s trading arm sees major job cuts

More than 300 staff members at NMC Trading have been laid off and more are likely to follow. It was on April 9 that NMC was placed under administration on the UK High Court’s orders, following a request submitted by ADCB, the UAE bank with the highest loan exposure to the company. Letting go of its trading division could bring in some much needed funds for NMC Group. It's also part of the strategy to focus exclusively on core operations made up of its hospitals and clinics.

Many Join Saudi Online Platform to Teach Arabic Calligraphy

The Saudi Ministry of Culture announced its launch of the first electronic platform to teach Arabic calligraphy and Islamic decoration. The electronic platform will be supervised by a group of professional calligraphers from the Kingdom and the Arab world. The platform offers various training courses, including professional courses in the types of Arabic calligraphy, making calligraphic paintings and artwork, letter formations, gilding, Islamic decoration, drawing and coloring, the art of paper marbling and Ebru (needle art). The platform will also give the trainee the opportunity to develop Arabic computer fonts by learning designs and programming fonts. The online platform was launched in 2018 and has over 19,000 users from 30 different countries around the world.

Islamic factoring tipped as game-changer for Turkish exports

At the moment there are six Islamic banks operating in Turkey, with Kuveyt Turk, Turkiye Finans and Albaraka Turk holding around three quarters of their market share. Harun Çelik, the Islamic Trade Finance Corporation’s (ITFC) regional head for Turkey, says that agriculture is one of the sectors where Islamic banks have big growth potential. Out of almost Tl120bn (US$18.5bn) of agricultural finance in Turkey, the six Islamic banks are only getting 1% of that. That’s where he sees growth potential. Perhaps the greatest nascent opportunity lies with small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). One useful emerging tool for SMEs could be factoring. A form of supply chain finance, factoring typically involves a supplier selling its invoices to a third party at a discount. For the supplier it means quicker access to working capital, while the third party makes its profit once the invoices are paid.

UK court's intervention is worst-case scenario, says NMC Health chairman

According to hospital operator NMC Health and its Executive Chairman Faisal Belhoul, getting placed in administration by a UK court order would be the "worst-case scenario" for the company’s future. The threat of coming under administration is a live one after Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank had filed a request with a UK court for NMC to be placed under a joint administration. ADCB – which has an exposure of Dh3.6 billion to NMC and affiliates - filed its request in a UK court because NMC Health is listed on London Stock Exchange. According to Belhoul, international institutional investors are keen to take an exposure in NMC despite its current predicament.

Ramadan during coronavirus may seem disheartening but it's the ideal time for reflection

It is going to be a very different Ramadan this year due to the Covid-19 global pandemic and the social isolation laws. Ramadan in 2020 means no communal gatherings in mosques for "tarawih" night prayers, no large "iftar" dinners with family and friends at sunset to break the day’s fast, and restrictions on celebrating Eid, the biggest social holiday for Muslims signalling the end of Ramadan. Self-discipline when it comes to physical acts of worship is a part of the heritage of Islam. However, the true essence of Ramadan has been diluted through the generations. The focus of Ramadan can move away from food preparation and "eating at sunset", to self-improvement and self-discipline.

Islamic Development Bank to help #Pakistan fight coronavirus

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Thursday offered financial support to Pakistan amid the lockdown due to coronavirus pandemic. In a video call, IsDB President Dr Bandar MH Hajjar assured Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar of the bank’s support for Pakistan. Hajjar informed that the IsDB Group has approved the $2.3 billion package for the IsDB member countries to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar appreciated the special priority given to Pakistan. The minister also underlined the needs of the member countries and applauded Bank’s response.

Islamic Development Bank prepares $2.3b package for member countries

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group has approved a $2.3 billion package for its member countries to mitigate and recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. IsDB President Dr Bandar M H Hajjar said that this will be achieved through a holistic approach aimed to accommodate priorities beyond the immediate and emergency response. Dr Hajjar assured the bank’s full support for the people and the government of Pakistan to mitigate the negative impacts of Covid-19. Pakistan's Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar informed that International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) has been directed to immediately finalise $500 million for import of oil and an amount of $150 million has been allocated to alleviate the pandemic impact.

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