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Meezan Bank Shariah Board endorsed guidelines for digital mobile account

Meezan Bank's Shariah Board endorsed new guidelines related to digital accounts, supply chain financing and a housing finance facility. The Shariah Supervisory Board showed its overall satisfaction on the Shariah-compliance environment and operations of the Bank. Guidelines for the digital Meezan Asaan Mobile Account based on Mudarabah were approved during the board meeting. From now on a customer can open his digital mobile account at Meezan Bank without the hassle of visiting any physical branch. The customer will be entitled to receive halal profit based on actual returns of Shariah-compliant financings on monthly basis. Furthermore, the customer can use this account to deposit and withdraw funds digitally or from any Meezan Bank branch all over Pakistan.

Chubb in talks to merge Chubb Arabia with AlAhli Takaful Company

Property/casualty insurer Chubb's Saudi Arabian division, Chubb Arabia Cooperative Insurance Company, has entered into preliminary discussions with AlAhli Takaful Company to explore the possibility of merging the two companies.

$26mln Islamic financing for #Oman copper-gold project

The Omani-Australian partnership Al Hadeetha Resources has secured funding to the tune of RO 10 million from Alizz Islamic Bank, which will support the financing of the formers copper-gold project. Australian-based mining firm Alara Resources is a majority investor in the project, which centres on the commercialization of an estimated 16 million tons of copper. These new financing arrangements signify another key milestone for the flagship Al Hadeetha Copper-Gold project in Oman. The funds will be used to procure major equipment for the copper processing plant at Washihi. Meanwhile, Al Hadeetha Resources has named Chinese state-owned enterprise China National Geological & Mining Corporation (CGM) as its Engineering Procurement Construction contractor. The project is expected to come into operation by Q1 2021.

Saudi art organisation acquires vast collection of Middle Eastern art from Dubai's bankrupt Abraaj firm

The private Saudi art organisation Art Jameel has bought a vast collection of works by leading artists commissioned by the now defunct, Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj. The collection had been planned to go on long-term loan to Art Jameel’s Dubai space, Jameel Arts Centre, before the financial company went bankrupt in 2018. It will now be managed as part of the Art Jameel Collection and part will be housed at the centre in Dubai. The 29 pieces, created over ten years from 2008 as part of the annual Abraaj Group Art Prize, are by artists from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia including Kader Attia, Shezad Dawood, Rana Begum and Wael Shawky.

#Turkey sees inflow of angel investments surge 66% in 2019

Turkey saw $102 million worth of angel investments come into the country in 2019, a 66% year-on-year increase, amid efforts to improve venture capital and angel investment fields in the country. Turkey is the fourth largest angel investment country in Europe with 141 angel investors. The two-day congress on angel investment hosts hundreds of participants from 92 countries and 132 international speakers in 24 panels. As part of the WBAF's World Congress 2020, agreements were signed with the Mali government, the Mexican Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Royal Academy of Science International Trust, the Antalya OIS and the Antalya Technopark, the Three Cultures Foundation, the World Free Zones Association, the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs and Bahrain Entrepreneurs Organization.

Moroccan jurist Ahmed Raissouni slammed for calling micro loans «Sharia-compliant»

Moroccan jurist Ahmed Raissouni and his recent fatwa on micro loans in Morocco has stirred controversy among Moroccan salafists. They urged the head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars to review his opinion on the matter. Raissouni said the loans introduced recently were Sharia-compliant, but salafists sustain the view that usury, even with an interest rate of 0.5%, remains a prohibited practice. Mohamed Talal Lahlou, a professor of Islamic economics said that these loans are meant to promote the national economy and the explanation of its advantages, as presented by Raissouni, is a sort of normalization of what is prohibited by Islam. He denounced the reasoning, which increases the power of an authoritarian and usury system.

Pirate Statement on Homelessness for the United Nations

Pirate Parties International (PPI) released a statement, which also appeared on the website of the United Nations. PPI concludes that technology-based tools such as internet crowd sourcing of information and low threshold access to resource information better targets help where it’s needed. In areas where housing cannot be provided, PPI proposes open use of apps, websites and computer labs to help homeless locate resources. Merging technology, resources, helpers and users via digital platforms is a new frontier in fighting homelessness. Finland proves the efficacy of Housing First to reintegrate homeless into society. PPI are strong supporters of the self-evident truth that people function better when they have a place to live.

Al Baraka celebrates Art Week in headquarters with an Art Exhibition by employees

Al Baraka Islamic Bank organized an art exhibition for talented employees of the Bank as well as for the staff of Al Baraka Banking Group. The Art exhibition took place on 28th January 2020 at the Al Baraka Headquarters in Bahrain Bay. Al Baraka Group President Mr. Adnan Ahmed Yousif said the exhibition aimed to explore the historical legacies of Bahrain, from traditional crafts, industry and pop culture to modernism’s forms, including art and architecture there by encouraging the talented employees. He further stated that some of the paintings would be selected for use in the Group’s calendars and greeting cards.

INJAZ #Bahrain set to launch its first mobile application

INJAZ Bahrain has endeavored to develop its first mobile application with the support of Al Salam Bank-Bahrain, K-Labs and Inforise IT. The application will offer an enhanced registration experience by enabling new joiners, volunteers and alumni to choose among a list of programs offered by INJAZ Bahrain in collaboration with public and private schools. The application will also provide INJAZ Bahrain’s privileged volunteers with reward points based on their contributed volunteering hours towards youth development. The INJAZ Bahrain application will be available for both Android and IOS users by June of this year. In an aim to expand youth education and economic development, INJAZ Bahrain is leveraging mobile to harness digital innovation to improve the learning process and encourage more volunteers to join its programs.

IMF: Oil-rich Gulf Arab states may spend savings in 15 years

The International Monetary Fund warned that Gulf Arab states could burn through all their savings in the next 15 years as worries about climate change and supply from new competitors dampen oil prices. The stark alarm from the IMF comes as the island nation of Bahrain faced defaulting on a loan in 2018 and received a $10 billion bailout from its neighbors. According to IMF, the world’s demand for oil is expected to grow more slowly and eventually begin to decline in the next two decades. Oil production in the GCC represents 20% of global supplies. While GCC nations largely grew their reserves from 1997 to 2007, they began spending rapidly in the decade that followed. The monetary body recommended faster diversification away from an oil-based economy, a renewed push to save money and reforming the region’s large civil service.

Swiss fintech firms venture deeper into Middle East

Swiss fintech company Instimatch has launched into the Middle East, having won a licence to operate in Qatar, and signed up its first Kuwaiti bank. The company is poised to incorporate Islamic finance-compliant solutions and blockchain into its platform. Qatar's Masraf Al Rayan and Ahli banks are among the 80-plus entities signed up by Instimatch, along with Kuwait's Gulf Bank. Instimatch plans to have Qatar as a springboard for further expansion in the Middle East and later to Africa and Asia. Along with other countries in the region, Qatar recently launched a national fintech strategy to beef up its financial centre with digital innovations.

Qatar- Malaysia builds framework for digital Islamic banks

Malaysia's central bank Bank Negara Malaysia is pushing the financial sector to join the digital banking revolution. It is preparing the issuance of the country's first five digital banking licences. Digital banks also named virtual banks, neobanks or challenger banks predominantly deliver banking services through digital channels such as Internet portals and smartphone apps with minimal, if any, brick-and-mortar presence. Among the largest standalone digital banks globally are currently N26 from Germany, Monzo, Starling and Revolut from the UK, Chime from the US, Tangerine from Canada, Nubank from Brazil, Neat from Hong Kong and WeBank from China. In the Islamic financial industry examples are insha, a co-operation of Turkey's Albaraka Turk Participation Bank with German solarisBank, and some others such as Boubyan Bank. Adding to this, Qatar Islamic Bank as part of its digital transformation has developed a fully digital financing services arm. Malaysia could potentially join with digital Islamic banking services in case Maybank and CIMB receive digital banking licences.

#Indonesia's financial inclusion index increased in 2019: Jokowi

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) drew attention to Indonesia's financial inclusion index (FII) having risen from 67.8% to 76.19% in 2019. However, the index is yet below that recorded of neighboring countries in the ASEAN, with Singapore standing at 98%; Malaysia at 85%; and Thailand at 82%. Jokowi has highlighted the importance of prioritizing easy access to formal financial services for all people. He has called to develop internet-based digital financial services, as internet users in Indonesia had reached 170 million, or some 64.8% of its total population. He also called to expand access to formal financial services through non-banking services, such as insurance, stock market, and pension fund, to support funding from domestic investors.

Bridging the gap between faith and investment discussed by investors, asset managers, developers, churches

Cooperation between different groups was the focus of recent a two-day conference held at the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference titled: "FaithInvest: Impactful Cooperation" was sponsored by the Geneva Agape Foundation, World Council of Churches (WCC), and the UK-based group FaithInvest. The organizers of the conference said that churches and church-related institutions with their pension funds and capital invest billions of dollars worldwide. Bright Mawudor, head of finance and deputy general secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), spoke on sustainable church investments in Africa. He said the AACC has an ambitious plan to make the organization a 'donor' organization by 2025. Other speakers reflected on how to build innovative bridges using the United Nations and Geneva as a global center.

One of Germany’s senior Muslim diplomats, Murad Hoffman, returns to his Lord

The well-known scholar and diplomat, Murad Hoffman, has passed to meet his Lord. May Allah have mercy upon him. Murad Hofmann was born a Catholic in 1931 in Aschaffenburg, Germany. He later studied at the University of Munich and Harvard University. Hofmann converted to Islam in 1980 as a result of witnessing the Algerian War of Independence, in addition to his admiration of Islamic art. His reversion was met with political resistance due to his high profile in the German government. Hofmann served as a diplomat for Germany for 33 years, beginning in 1961. He served as ambassador to Algeria and Morocco from 1987 to 1994, and was director of information for NATO.

Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education appoint Dr. Sonia Ben Jaafar as CEO

The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE) has appointed Dr. Sonia Ben Jaafar as Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Ben Jaafar’s experience in the education development sector spans over 20 years in Canada, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Her leadership roles working on major educational development projects include engagement with the American Institute of Research, Ericsson, UNESCO, UNICEF, and War Child UK. His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair said that her commitment to inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning makes her an excellent addition to the AGFE team.

CIMB Islamic contributes RM1 million for conservation efforts of Setiu Wetlands

CIMB Islamic Bank has committed RM1 million per year, renewable annually for up to 3 years for the conservation efforts of Setiu Wetlands, Terengganu. The three-year project with a total potential commitment of RM3 million, is in collaboration with World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia). The project contributes towards safeguarding Setiu Wetlands’ healthy and functioning ecosystem by establishing a critical knowledge base to guide sustainable development. This is CIMB’s third collaboration with WWF-Malaysia on strategic conservation projects, subsequent to the project in Ulu Muda, Kedah, and in Ba’ Kelalan and Long Semadoh in Sarawak.

DAVOS-Capitalism seen doing "more harm than good" in global survey

A majority of people around the world believe capitalism in its current form is doing more harm than good. The survey was launched in 2000 to explore the theories of political scientist Francis Fukuyama, who after the collapse of communism declared that liberal capitalist democracy had seen off rival ideologies and so represented "the end of history". That conclusion has since been challenged by several critics. Of possible interest to corporate leaders gathering in Davos this week was the finding that trust in business outweighed that in governments and that 92% of employees said CEOs should speak out on the social and ethical issues of the day.

Don't believe media buzz about Arab buying spree in #Turkey

Turkey has been talking a lot about Arab purchases in the country. Most recently, the issue of Arab acquisitions has made headlines as part of a simmering controversy over a government plan to build an artificial waterway in Istanbul as an alternative to the Bosporus. Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the mother of the Qatari emir, is among the buyers who have reportedly purchased 4.4 hectares of land in the area. While real estate sales to foreigners account for less than 3% of Turkey’s export revenues, Gulf investors hold only 9% of direct foreign investments in the country. In sum, any media buzz suggesting an Arab buying spree in Turkey is overblown.

The DFSA Signs Guiding Principles on Sustainable Finance Together With Leading Authorities in the #UAE

Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has published the UAE’s first Guiding Principles on Sustainable Finance. The Guiding Principles are the result of co-operative efforts among a number of authorities in the UAE, namely the Dubai Financial Services Authority, the Central Bank, the Insurance Authority, the Securities and Commodities Authority, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of the Abu Dhabi Global Market, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, the Dubai Financial Market, Nasdaq Dubai, and the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. The Guiding Principles are based on the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development and will serve as a catalyst for the implementation of the UAE’s sustainability priorities.

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