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Covid-19: Saudi delivery app raises funds as virus lockdown boosts demand

A grocery delivery app in Saudi Arabia has raised funds to expand across the Middle East as lockdown measures related to the coronavirus boost demand for online shopping. The Nana app raised $18 million from investors including venture capital fund STV and Middle East Venture Partners. Dubai-based start-up ecosystem enabler Wamda also participated in the investment round, along with Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC), Impact46 and Watar Partners. Nana founder Sami Alhelwah said the penetration of online grocery shopping in the region is very low and the target is to expand across the region and beyond groceries into other products. Nana wants to become the Amazon of the Middle East and wants to be one of the first technology companies listed in Saudi Arabia.

Coronavirus in #UAE: Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group donates Dh13 million

Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group has announced donations worth Dh13 million aimed at supporting the healthcare sector and schools in Dubai to support the country amidst the global coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. The Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group Charity Foundation announced a Dh3 million donation to support the UAE's distance learning initiative at public and non-profit schools in Dubai. The Group also donated Dh10 million to support the Dubai Health Authority's preventive measures against the novel coronavirus. Furthermore, Al Gurg Group has offered tenants of its residential buildings the option of postponing rent payment for three months.

Islamic Development Bank comes to the rescue of virus-hit members

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has set up an emergency funding line to tackle the coronavirus crisis. The Strategic Preparedness and Response Facility with a volume of $730mn is established in order to support the member countries and to mitigate the negative health and socio-economic impact of the pandemic. The emergency funding includes $280mn from the IsDB’s Bank and Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development to be used for sovereign projects and programmes, $300mn from IsDB’s division International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation to support trade finance among member countries, as well as $150mn to be applied to insurance coverage.

COVID-19 and Islamic Law Roundup (2/2)

Countries and communities around the world are working to contain COVID-19 and mitigate its effects. The following digest represents a variety of sources in which Islamic law was invoked in the decision making process.
Kuwait amends the adhan to urge prayer at home amidst mosque closures. Egypt closes all mosques, nationwide, in light of COVID-19. Mosques from Istanbul to Mogadishu wrestle with decisions to close in light of coronavirus.
Worshippers around the world risk infection with communal prayer, defying orders to pray at home.

Islamic Fintech Startups On The Rise In Southeast Asia

Islamic fintech firms in the Southeast Asian region are providing digital services with wide appeal. The services—especially peer-to-peer financing and crowdfunding—can easily be used by the world’s 1.9 billion Muslims, and the tech-savvy firms are able to compete well with conventional Islamic banks. For example, Alami has a sharia-compliant P2P service to link funders with small and medium-sized businesses in Indonesia. So far, the company has steered P2P funding into over 30 businesses and is recruiting for expansion. Ethis operates a variety of sharia-compliant crowdfunding platforms. Its Indonesian housing venture has built over 8,000 low-cost homes with investments from 65 countries, and a new Ethis platform now provides crowdfunding for real estate projects in Dubai. Two other promising firms are Investree, a P2P marketplace for a range of business financing needs, and Ammana, with similar services.

British Museum to exhibit 150 works by Middle Eastern artists in new major exhibition

The British Museum has emerged as one of the foremost sites for collecting and exhibiting Middle Eastern art in the UK. Much of the museum’s prominence is due to Venetia Porter, its curator of Islamic and contemporary Middle East art. The 150 works on paper that the museum will show are not loans, they have been acquired by the museum. The exhibition in the autumn will be accompanied by a major catalogue of the acquisitions and a conference. Among its subjects will be those of conflict and exile, two key areas for recent art of the region, explored by well-known artists such as Dia Azzawi, Hanaa Malallah, and Hayv Kahraman. There are also works of Syrian artists affected by the country’s civil war and more recently from Lebanon.

New cat bond an important piece of #Mexico’s social protection strategy: Government

Mexico has newly issued a $485 million World Bank facilitated catastrophe bond, the IBRD / FONDEN 2020 transaction and sees it as an important part of the country’s social protection strategy. The new cat bond will provide the country with a four-year source of parametric earthquake and hurricane insurance protection, replacing the maturing coverage of the $260 million 2018 issuance IBRD CAR 118-119. The Government highlighted that Mexico is particularly exposed to natural disaster risks, with some 40% of the national territory, and about a third of its population, exposed to hurricanes, storms, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The transaction was issued in four tranches, two exposed to different levels of earthquake risks and one each to Atlantic and Pacific hurricane risks.

Islamic fintech shows how inclusivity makes good business sense

Customers across the world are quickly taking to new mobile-based payment technologies; contactless and e-wallets taking the lead over cold, hard cash. But not every nation is moving quite as fast. In Indonesia there are some concerns about whether the adoption of digital payments and other fintech services are compliant with Islamic laws. Recently, the top Muslim clerical body in Indonesia has issued an edict deeming virtual money acceptable, as long as it meets specific conditions. GoPay has already partnered with the Indonesian Mosque Council to enable digital donations, including the practice of almsgiving, zakat. Islamic fintech is a good example of the business benefits of fostering inclusivity and acceptance among local markets. Inclusivity is not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense as well. Out of Indonesia’s 270 million population, half lack bank accounts but have mobile phones. As cash continues to become obsolete, Islamic fintech members will surely profit.

Shariah gold ETF rises as safe havens in demand

Malaysian Affin Hwang Investment Bank expects gold prices to average higher in 2020, helped by sustained accommodative monetary policies among major central banks. Using the TradePlus Shariah Gold Tracker exchange-traded fund (ETF) as an avenue to invest in the precious metal, Affin Hwang believes the ETF’s fair value is RM2.30. In 2019, the price of gold surged by 18.9% year-on-year (YoY) to US$1,523.1/oz compared to a decline of 2.1% in 2018 to US$1,309.3/oz. In the near term, Affin Hwang Capital believes concerns over the recent Covid-19 outbreak will likely continue to drive safe-haven flows into gold. Due to geopolitical concerns and low-interest rates, the World Gold Council noted that holdings in gold-backed ETFs hit an all-time high of 2,885.5 tonnes in 4Q19 compared to 2,858.8 tonnes in 3Q19 mainly from North American and European-listed funds.

How the #UK tech startup scene has become a powerful engine for Islam

Today, technology and Islam are seeing a valuable convergence in its contribution to exercising faith in a modern era. Technology has been a real driving force in the introduction of Islamic business banking in the UK, with more than 20 banks now offering Islamic financial products. Recent technological innovation in augmented reality has seen a team of UK entrepreneurs create the Islamic GPS app, designed with a 360 degree interactive view to help consumers find Islamic heritage spots and halal sites. Britain is now also home to a host of tech platforms looking to support charities. The creation of MyTenNights showed sharp demand for automated, personalised nightly donation plans during Ramadan. To ensure they maximise their positive impact, Muslims are using the nightly automating donation platform to remove the admin of charitable donation.

Nasser Hideur, Directeur général d'Al Salam Bank #Algérie : «La finance islamique contribue à la mobilisation de l'épargne»

Lors du colloque international sur la finance islamique le ministre délégué à la prospective et aux statistiques, le docteur Bachir Messaitfa, avait réaffirmé l'intérêt des pouvoirs publics de voir ces activités financières se développer et contribuer de manière plus importante à l'effort de mobilisation de l'épargne nationale, de financement de l'économie et de bancarisation de la société. Les sukuk étant adossés à des actifs tangibles peuvent constituer une alternative pour toute entité de droit public ou privé désirant lever des fonds à travers des mécanismes de marché dans le respect des principes de la chari'a. En matière de crédit, la formule de vente par tempérament de véhicules préalablement acquis par la banque a suscité un immense intérêt auprès des citoyens.

Les fintechs à l’assaut de la finance islamique

Dans son rapport « Islamique Finance Outlook 2019 Edition », S&P Global Ratings a déclaré qu’à moyen terme, le secteur des fintechs pourrait entraîner certaines disruptions sur le marché de la finance islamique. L’adoption de la finance islamique par le biais des fintechs a une grande chance de toucher les masses, en particulier la population rurale qui a moins accès aux produits et services financiers. Le marché des fintechs islamiques en est encore à ses prémices mais recèle de nombreuses opportunités de croissance. Les services de transferts et de paiements via la technologie blockchain et la gestion des finances personnelles, dont les solutions d’open Banking, apparaissent être les secteurs à plus forte concentration et croissance. Ils sont proposés par les fintechs basées sur la blockchain et les contrats intelligents.

Regulating AI in Finance: Putting the Human in the Loop

Globalization, digitization and technology are propelling Artificial Intelligence (AI) forward in finance at an ever increasing pace. Despite the fact that finance is where some of the greatest investment is taking place, little has been written about potential financial regulatory concerns. Traditional financial supervision, focused on external supervision, is generally unlikely to be highly effective in addressing the risks created by AI. The most effective path forward involves regulatory approaches which bring the human into the loop, enhancing internal governance and personal responsibility through external regulation. The most effective are AI-tailored manager responsibility frameworks, augmented in some cases by independent AI review committees.

Casablanca : Des experts étudient l'impact de la finance participative sur les ODD

La Société Islamique pour le Développement du Secteur Privé (ICD) et Al Akhdar Bank organisent les 20 et 21 février 2020 à Casablanca une conférence de l’impact de la Finance Participative sur les Objectifs de Développement Durable (ODD). Les Master Classes de cet évènement ont pour but d’appuyer les différentes potentialités agissant directement ou indirectement dans le secteur de la Finance participative dans la compréhension des mécanismes islamiques permettant de financer le développement durable, tel que les Green Sukuk par exemple. Ces séances de formation ciblent plusieurs catégories d’acteurs, entre autres, les investisseurs institutionnels, les sociétés de capital-investissement, les firmes de capital-risque, les institutions du secteur privé concernées par le développement durable.

KYC Blockchain consortium in Dubai: possible implications?

The Know Your Customer or KYC blockchain consortium in Dubai is due to happen soon in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Banks and financial authorities have come together to form a consortium that would be sharing the KYC information not just between the banking giants of the country but also the financial regulatory authority. KYC is among the most hated protocols in the cryptocurrency universe; given the fact that the very idea of KYC stands for everything against the cryptocurrency. Ironically enough, the KYC blockchain consortium in Dubai would be using the very technology that powers the cryptocurrency sphere to keep the user information. KYC information includes the identification of the user and other details that would allow the authorities to track the finances back to the user.

Algérie : Vers la création de banques islamiques (Finance Islamique)

Sous le thème « L’avenir de la finance islamique à la lumière des développements contemporains en Algérie », le colloque international sur la finance islamique s’est tenu à l’Université de Tipaza les 18 et 19 Février. Le colloque a appelé les autorités Algériennes à accélérer la cadence, notamment sur le volet des dispositifs financiers, afin d’établir des lois relatives à la création de banques et de compagnies d’assurances islamiques. Le ministre délégué chargé des Statistiques et de la Prospective, Bachir Messaitfa avait annoncé lors de l’ouverture du séminaire organisé à l’Université de Tipaza le 18 février, que l’avenir des banques islamiques en Algérie est pionnier et prometteur, qui s’inscrit dans la vision du gouvernement à l’horizon 2035.

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.

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