In Uganda the first Islamic Banking and Finance (IBF) conference was held last week. Prof. Ashraf Bin Hashim said in Malaysia, most of the Islamic banks are subsidiaries to conventional banks; therefore, they are not looked at as competitors. They are developing themselves together. IBF will widen the pool of investors and Islamic donor streams to Uganda. Instead of having only conventional investors, there will be several potential Islamic investors in the country.
In March Saudi Arabia announced Vision 2030, a comprehensive reform plan aimed to wean Saudi Arabia off its long-term dependence on oil, sooner rather than later. The timing for these reforms is no accident. Large swings in global oil prices affect Saudi Arabia deeply, as the country’s oil export revenue stream determines its own financial strength. Saudi Arabia also faces other, wider challenges, with implications for the Kingdom have not yet fully been explored, such as its political succession.
Emirates Islamic announced the launch of the Emirates Islamic charity fund, to govern and manage the bank’s strategy for charitable donations and giving. The fund’s activities will be managed by Awatif Al Harmoudi. The fund has been set up with the primary objective of allocation of financial aid to large charities, public and private institutions, as well as individuals in need.
Where UK based students are led to take Islamic finance masters' degrees as a route to an Islamic finance career, mis-selling may be taking place. In world rankings, many UK universities rank relatively highly, and such a UK degree can enhance the promotion prospects of foreign students in their home country. However, many UK origin students are persuaded to take a master's degree in Islamic finance immediately after graduating. Unfortunately, the number of available positions in Islamic finance in the UK is very limited. Also UK Islamic financial institutions are too small to train people, and typically only hire experienced Islamic bankers.
Guyana officially became the 57th member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) during the opening ceremony of the bank’s annual meeting in Jakarta. According to the finance ministry press release, this membership allows Guyana access to concessionary resources, grants and interest free loans. Finance minister of Guyana, Winston Jordan, is making his debut appearance in Jakarta personally to witness Guyana’s initiation into the group. Suriname, which is also a member of the Islamic Bank, is represented by its Finance Minister Gilmore Hoefdraad and Deputy Governor, Dr Anwar Lall Mohamed. The private sector is expanding economic ties between Indonesia and Suriname and, with the support of the Islamic Bank, rhetoric is becoming reality.
The volume of Islamic Development Bank (IDB)'s investments in Egypt currently amounts to US$3.7 billion. The statement was made by Nazih Al-Nasser, director of asset management and advisory activities of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). He made his remarks in Cairo on Tuesday during a conference organised by the Egyptian Banking Institute, designated to focus on the role of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group and the World Bank Group have jointly produced a global report on Islamic finance. The full report, titled 'Islamic Finance: A Catalyst for Shared Prosperity?', will be launched during the World Bank/IMF Annual Meeting later this year. Some of the key recommendations include having adequate policy interventions and financial infrastructure to enable Islamic finance serve as a catalyst for poverty alleviation and inclusive prosperity.
ADNOC Distribution and Abu Dhabi Ports signed a Mustaha agreement. The new agreement aims to strengthen ADNOC Distribution's capacity to develop new projects at Khalifa Industrial Zone (Kizad) and provide logistical support. The agreement was signed by Saeed Mubarak Al Rashidi, CEO of ADNOC Distribution and Mana Mohammed Saeed Al Mulla, CEO of Kizad. ADNOC Distribution will set up a lubes and grease plant, as well as strategic storage warehouses. The company will commence its operations in the new location by the beginning of 2022.
The issue of sustainable development goals (SDGs) was discussed intensely at the annual meeting of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in Jakarta. Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said many aspects of the SDGs were covered by Islamic finance, arguing that most customers served by Islamic micro-finance were poor people who were not in the banking system. Bank Indonesia Governor Agus Martowardojo added the size of Islamic finance is still very small, representing only 1% of total global finance.
Brunei's efforts to expand the scope of the financial sector are aimed at ensuring a greater diversity of public and private sector financing. In April Brunei Darussalam issued two sukuk worth a combined $150m. The first, a $50m bond with a rental rate of 1.03%, has a one-year maturity, while the second offering, a $100m sukuk with a rental rate of 0.78%, will mature in July. In the period from 2001 to 2015 Brunei Darussalam offered 119 short-term sukuk, equivalent to 2.32% of the global market by value. The Sultanate stands alongside Indonesia and Malaysia as major issuers of Islamic financial instruments in the region and is poised to play a growing role in the issuance of sukuk in coming years.
The Thomson Reuters Global Sukuk Index was last at 119.83102 points, up from 116.97354 at the end of last year. The Thomson Reuters Investment Grade Sukuk Index is at 118.12115 points against 115.21206 at end-2015. The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, which completed a debut sale of US$300 mn of five-year sukuk this year as well as two private placements, plans a further transaction in coming months.
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) has appointed Hani Salem Sonbol as its CEO. As ITFC is an autonomous member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) the announcement was made at the 41st annual meeting of the IDB in Jakarta. Sonbol expressed his thanks to Ahmad Mohamed Ali, president of IDB’s board of directors. He held several leading positions, including deputy CEO of ITFC, director of the IDB Group Regional Office in Rabat, and director of trade finance and development department at IDB.
Sharia student loans will be set up for the first time in Britain as part of a drive to boost the number of young Muslims applying to university. The government vowed to tackle the issue by creating a Takaful model, which is Sharia-compliant. Although no interest would be charged, the government said that repayments would be structured so that the total paid back would be the same as that paid by a student with a regular loan.
The Islamic Development Bank's annual meeting was held on Monday in Jakarta, Indonesia. At the meeting Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said sukuk played a significant role in promoting resilient infrastructure and sustainable economic development, and therefore should be boosted in the future. Indonesia has been active in sukuk markets since 2007. This year, Rp 110.9 trillion (US$ 8.33 bn) in sukuk was issued in the domestic and international markets, according to ministry data.
Fitch Ratings has affirmed EI Sukuk's updated $2.5 bn certificate issuance programme's 'A+' rating on the basis of the final programme documents received. The Outlook on the IDR is Stable. The rating on the current outstanding certificates is driven by Emirates NBD's (ENBD) Long-Term IDR of 'A+'/Stable. This is due to the Sukuk structure where ENBD, as the guarantor, provides a direct and unconditional guarantee of EI's Sukuk obligations under the transaction documents.
Gulf borrowers are back in the bond market, and a new pattern is emerging. GCC bond sales climbed 32% to a total $15.9 bn this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Dubai’s government sold a $569 million privately-placed sukuk in March and Emirates NBD raised $499 mn from such deals. Bahrain and Oman have also opted to privately place sovereign issues. Rizwan Kanji, consultant at King & Spalding said most private-placement issuances are underwritten by the arrangers, which provides the issuer with certainty of execution and pricing.
Suriname's Trust Bank plans to complete a conversion of its operations to Islamic banking by the end of this year, becoming the first full-fledged Islamic bank in South America. CEO Maureen Badjoeri said the bank aims to expand financing to small businesses and build stronger commercial links with Muslim countries. The advisor of the coversion is the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), which may also take a strategic stake in the bank after the transition is completed.
The Ugandan government reviewed the Financial Institutions Act 2004, that allowed the introduction of both Islamic and Agency banking. However, Islamic finance agitators still believe that without the revision of the Central Bank Act, the Hire Purchase Act, The Stamp Duty Act and the Accounting Principles Act, it will be difficult for Islamic finance to deepen in Uganda. Sulaiman Lujja from the Islamic University in Uganda says Central Banks have to develop, adopt and adapt various policies and prudential guidelines.
Iran is working on a plan to establish a joint bank with Azerbaijan. Elman Rustamov, the chairman of Azerbaijan's Central Bank (CBA) is discussing the matter with Iran's Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayyebnia. The two neighbors are also discussing the opening of branches of the two countries’ banks in Baku and Tehran. The Iranian minister said the main obstacle on the way of banking cooperation is the existing sanctions against Iran's financial sector.
The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) plans to tighten oversight of market practices and revise capital adequacy and disclosure requirements. The new disclosure requirements would cover financial but also sharia-compliance aspects, and may include guidance on specific sukuk formats such as convertible instruments and those used for regulatory-capital purposes. Islamic finance has now systemic importance in 11 countries, these include Qatar, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Brunei, with the latest entrant Djibouti. Bahrain and Jordan are close to achieving that status as well.