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Dubai-based Fintech, Beehive, Releases State of the SME Ecosystem Report

Peer-to-peer lending platform Beehive has released an insightful new report revealing the state of MENA's SME ecosystem. The report is based on a survey of 175 SME owners and senior management and a roundtable of 13 prominent SME founders / CEOs. Key findings from the report include: surveyed MENA SMEs have more women in senior positions than the global average. 28% of respondents see innovation as a priority for growth, yet only 2% of business owners are currently trying to access finance to fund it. SMEs offer young people a great opportunity for development. 48% of SMEs would hire someone under 25 with no experience. The report focused on key areas that impact SMEs such as talent acquisition, innovation and growth factors. The survey results showed positive indicators such as SME appetite for market expansion and the opportunity for women in business.

SC launches new roadmap to drive sustainable investments

The domestic capital market is expected to play a critical role in helping Malaysia meet the estimated RM45 billion required to finance its long-term sustainable development goals. Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) chairman Datuk Syed Zaid Syed Jaffar Albar said climate change poses physical and financial risks to companies. The change to more sustainable practices requires investments in new technologies and funding which carries risks with indeterminate outcomes. Malaysia alone is projected to require RM45 billion in the next five years. Therefore, the SC released the sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) roadmap to establish the country as a regional SRI centre. The roadmap identified 20 strategic recommendations based on the SC’s five i-Strategy: the widening of the range of SRI instruments, increasing the SRI investor base, building a strong SRI issuer base, instilling a strong internal government culture and designing information architecture.

Waqf, zakat mechanism can make houses more affordable: Amiruddin

The Malaysian government is currently looking into various avenues in Islamic finance which can be used to make houses more affordable. Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah said that one state in the northern region is currently conducting a waqf housing scheme for the people. He said this at the sidelines of the inaugural International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF). INCEIF president Datuk Azmi Omar said that there are a lot of waqf land that can be used to develop affordable housing. The cost to develop the houses can be lower, however, the houses will be under a long-term lease. On another matter, Amiruddin said that the digital banking framework is set to push the country forward in the digital banking landscape.

Islamic pound is demanding credibility from today's consumer brands

A new trend is emerging among consumers, one that emphasises the importance of ethical consumption. Over the past 20 years, Muslim consumers have been searching for brands and products that speak to their religious identity. According to the seventh edition of the State of the Global Islamic Economy report published last week, Muslims spent $2.2 trillion last year on food, pharmaceuticals and lifestyle products and services. This is set to rise to $3.2 trillion by 2024. With the majority of Muslims under the age of 30 and many living in countries with large consumer markets, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the UAE, there is immense potential for the global community. Halal brands are now finding their way into a wider consumer beauty movement seeking cruelty-free, animal-free products.

United Arab Emirates: Fintech (2nd Edition)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) consists of "onshore" and financial free zone jurisdictions, to which different sources of payments law apply. There are currently two financial free zones in the UAE: the Dubai International Financial Centre (the DIFC) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (the ADGM). Payment services can be provided by non-banks. The 2017 Payment Regulations limits the scope of non-bank payment services, imposing ownership restrictions in many cases. Payment by way of cash remains the most prevalent method of payment in the UAE. However, an increasing number of UAE residents are opting to pay by way of debit and credit cards. Online payments are increasingly common and various other digital initiatives are increasingly utilized. Such initiatives include the government's Mobile Wallet, Etisalat Wallet, NOL Cards, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Alipay. Dubai introduced plans to launch its own wallet emCash which can be used as a digital currency and cryptocurrency as well.

Regulators tell derivatives industry to find Libor consensus

Regulators told the world's derivatives market that it must find a common approach for dealing with a sudden death of Libor, the interest rate benchmark used for pricing contracts worth more than $300 trillion globally. Libor became discredited after big investment banks were fined billions of dollars for trying to rig Libor. The London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) is slowly being replaced with rates compiled by central banks, including Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England. Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said that Libor is expected to cease after the end of 2021. In preparation for the change, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) said that a "pre-cessation trigger" should be inserted into terms for new derivatives contracts.

Global Food and Water Security Alerts

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang suggested that China needs to divert more water to its arid north. He said that local government bonds should be tilted towards water infrastructure to increase per capita water supplies, which are about a quarter of the global average. Li stated that China needs to research water conservation methods to reduce water consumption. He also claimed that the South-North Water Diversion Project had improved Chinese water security. That project, however, has not been as successful as he claims.

Muslim investors underserved by asset management industry: Report

According to a study from Schroders and Maybank Islamic, muslims have been underserved by the asset management industry, with limited innovation in product offerings and low growth in assets. As of June 2019, only US$3 billion was invested globally in Shariah global equity funds. Schroders and Maybank Islamic said the incorporation of sustainability considerations was both complementary in philosophy to Shariah investing, and had the potential to improve investment outcomes. The study further found that if investors were to start with a blank slate using Shariah principles as the anchor for their portfolio construction, sustainability considerations are likely to feature strongly. This implies that this singular focus of the Shariah investment industry is all set for an alignment with sustainable investing.

Pope signs Joint Declaration of Global Health with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince

Pope Francis has become a signatory to the Joint Declaration on Global Health. The Declaration comes just ahead of a major summit on global health, Reaching the Last Mile, hosted in Abu Dhabi. The event brings together world leaders, health care experts and philanthropists in order to study current medical challenges across the globe. The Declaration highlights areas of focus which still require attention and greater efforts, such as the fight to end Neglected Tropical Diseases. It is estimated that up to 1.5 billion people suffer from such diseases around the world. The declaration was signed on the Pope’s behalf by Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Arab Emirates and on Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed’s behalf by Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Undersecretary of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi.

Huge Shariah-compliant fintech potential in #Indonesia

For the first time in many years, Indonesia overtook Malaysia in an Islamic finance ranking. According to the Global Islamic Finance Report (GIFR) 2019, Indonesia ranked No 1 in IFCI 2019, overtaking Malaysia that has dominated the index since 2011. Malaysia may have had early mover advantages with a top-down approach in its positioning as a global hub for Islamic finance. Indonesia has shown a great penchant for creativity. Known for being creative and amplified by the market size, Indonesia has the potential to vault ahead in the near future. Indonesia has already unveiled its Islamic Economic Master Plan 2019-2024. Two out of four main strategies are directly benefitting Islamic finance and Islamic fintech. These strategies strengthen the Islamic financial sector and the digital economy.

SAMA updates actuarial regulations for insurance sector

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has updated actuarial regulations of insurance and reinsurance companies and is calling on the public and interested parties to provide their comments and views on the draft project. The regulator seeks to protect policyholders as well as develop and regulate the performance of actuaries in addition to the development of promising career and professional opportunities for young Saudis. Saudi Arabia said that actuary plays an important role in the design and pricing of products, in addition to work on financial reports and risk management and internal audit.

#Turkeys unexpected rise to the top of global crypto adopter

When thinking of countries that are ahead of the curve in crypto adoption, Turkey might not be the first place that springs to mind. However, Turkey has undoubtedly become a crypto giant, and with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently announcing that testing of the digital lira is to be finalized in 2020, crypto is destined to become even more popular. While the country’s government was initially reluctant to embrace cryptocurrencies, the people had always found utility in it. The online payment sector in Turkey had been ready to adopt crypto, but the first opportunity only came when PayPal was banned in the country. Turkey’s Ministry of Industry and Technology announced plans to establish a national blockchain infrastructure. Turkey has a vision of making Istanbul a financial center, and all institutions are working toward that end.

Saif bin Zayed to present #UAE fraternity model to 'Interfaith Summit on Promoting Digital Child Dignity' in Vatican

H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be attending the global interfaith Summit set to commence on 14th November in the Vatican under the theme ''Promoting Digital Child Dignity from Concept to Action 2017-2019''. His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, and His Eminence Dr. Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif will also attend the summit. The summit, which is attended by more than 80 international personalities, is a continuation of the global work in the fields of strengthening international efforts. The Summit also seeks to implement common global perspectives to develop and implement initiatives for tolerance and to strengthen the role of religious leaders such as the Interfaith Alliance For Safer Communities.

The Banker's Top Islamic Financial Institutions – 2019

The Banker’s 2019 Top Islamic Financial Institutions rankings show overall asset growth in the sector. The Middle East saw a bifurcation during 2018, with the six countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) witnessing very different growth to the rest of the region. While the number of Islamic finance institutions continues to grow worldwide, none of these new institutions broke ground in virgin territory. This suggests the geographic spread of sharia-compliant banking has come to an end, or at least a temporary halt. Sharia-compliant assets worldwide rose by 8.05% to $1656bn over 2018. Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have posted strong gains, from very different positions. Sub-Saharan Africa saw its sharia-compliant assets grow 18.2% to $18.79bn in 2018, overtaking Australia/Europe/Americas in the process.

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.

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