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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.

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.

KFH-Turkey... Robust Financial Position, Very High Liquidity Ratios

Group Chief Executive Officer at Kuwait Finance House(KFH), Mazin Saad Al-Nahedh, emphasized that KFH-Turkey enjoys robust financial position and very strong liquidity ratios as per the regulatory authority’s requirements in Turkey and Kuwait, not to mention as per the international standard Basel III.

Here’s why regulators are so worried about Facebook’s digital currency

Policymakers around the world have upped the pressure on libra, the digital currency being introduced by Facebook, amid concerns it could heavily disrupt the global financial system. It appears to be a running theme from a number of regulators and lawmakers, who worry libra would compete with government currencies. That’s because Facebook is such an influential platform, with more than 2.4 billion monthly active users as of July 2019.

Gulf Bonds Go From Haven to Hazard as Saudi Strikes Stun Market

Money managers poured into the Gulf region till Saturday’s unprecedented attack on Saudi Arabia’s key oil facilities. That drove record gains for bonds in August as they sought refuge in securities boasting an average credit score of A+ amid global trade tensions. According to a Bloomberg Barclays index, Saudi Arabian bonds handed investors the biggest loss, about triple that of Qatari securities. The strikes in Saudi Arabia could escalate into a showdown, with the kingdom and U.S. on one side, and Iran and proxy groups from Yemen to Lebanon, on the other. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the assault and warned that oil installations in the Arab nation remain a target.

Islamic groups ‘call upon all Muslims’ to divest from oil and gas

The Islamic Foundation for Environmental and Ecological Sciences, the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board and the Bahu Trust released a statement calling on Muslims to pull investment from the oil and gas sector. The three organisations said it was time the Muslim community stood firmly with those committed to action on climate change. They suggested that investment funds be shifted to renewable energy solutions, low-carbon transport and sustainable food sources. The leaders of the three Islamic groups added that the investment in cleaner energy was vital for a sustainable future. They also added that the need to realign oil and gas finances was in keeping with Islam’s ethical values.

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.

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