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Financial lobby group warns on emerging markets

The Institute of International Finance (IIF) warns that rich-country central banks may end their stimulus measures for emerging markets and warned investors to be prepared. Although there are few indications that the world's central banks are about to change course soon, the risk for reversal of rates needs to be discussed in order to avoid a “boom-bust cycle”.

A Revival of the “Hima”, the Islamic Tradition of the Commons

“Hima” means “protected place” in Arabic and aims at preserving special landscapes for the public. Middle Eastern environmentalists have established several new himas in Lebanon and are promoting the idea throughout the Middle East since they have positive effects on the communities.

Minimum Down Payment Set for Islamic Financing

The Finance Ministry has set stricter down payment requirements on Islamic financing concerning automotive purchases in order to to help curb consumer financing growth. According to the new regulation, a down payment of 20% for two-wheeled vehicle purchases and a 25% down payment for four-wheeled vehicles is required. The regulation will apply to all non-bank Islamic financing institutions. The requirements for the purchase of commercial four-wheeled vehicles, e.g. trucks or buses, are a 20% down payment.

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Outlook & Review 2012/2013

Dear Reader,

Islamic finance had another great year. Many of its market segments progressed, like for example the Sukuk market gaining more maturity. Despite the ongoing debt crisis a good sign of hope and happiness.

Nevertheless we are - as an industry - still not satisfied with the achievements. Islamic finance shall grow stronger in terms of social impact and in terms of substance:

Hence, please allow me to re-iterate my call for participating in international initiatives beyond just our own industry to learn and spread knowledge and experience:

Calling Islamic financial institutions to become member of the United Nations Finance Initiative

Inshallah we see more Islamic financial institutions taking a lead in SRI, Social Impact Investing and other approaches while contributing with Islamic finance knowdledge to the conventional industry. The time is now; and there are signs that Malaysia aims for a lead:

Islamic finance growing

The International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) is progressing on a variety of Sharia products issued. This was made known at their 27th board meeting which was hosted by Kuwait Finance House - Bahrain in Manama. The mentioned products include Interbank Unrestricted Wakalah standards, Islamic Currency Hedging product standards and Collateralised (Rahn) Product Standard. Moreover, the board reached an agreement on the initiation of several new standards among which Ijarah sukuk standardisation as well as consultation on credit support arrangement concerning Islamic hedging.

The Latest Way to Solve Poverty in the Middle East

The US Agency for International Development has been trying in the past two years to increasingly alleviate the poverty in the Middle East. In the course of this approach, Arab Non-profit organisations was forced to rethink their strategic orientation to focusing rather on US strategic interest than on their own local needs. The following article gives detailed insight on this issue.

Tunisia: Qatar to finance purchase of four Airbus

Tunisian government became an offer for financing of the purchase of four brand new airplanes from the Qatari Islamic Investment Bank. The discussions were led among the management of the bank, the Minister of Transport of Tunisia and the CEO of Tunisair.

ABG wins award for social responsibility

The Arab Organisation for Social Responsibility has awarded Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) for the best Arab Bank supporting social responsibility. The aim of the award is to encourage the role of public and private sectors, government and private institutions, in the area of social responsibility.

Building a Healthy & Sustainable Social Impact Bond Market: The Investor Landscape

Building a Healthy & Sustainable Social Impact Bond (SIB) Market is the name of new report by Godeke Consulting that was supported by the Rockeffeller Foundation. The aim of the report is to explore the landscape of potential SIB investors in order to clarify the ways in which a sustainable market can be built up. Beside that, the report provides a look at social and environmental conditions and current economical issues.

This Arab Nation Made it Mandatory For Women to Be in Positions of Power

UAE took steps to improve women's representation in organizations by setting up of quotas of women members in boards. Women will now have to prove by their professionalism that they deserve such "appreciation" against men colleagues.

The PRI’s $32 trillion challenge

The Principles for Responsible Investment shortly called PRI start to occupy the core of investment management. But there is still the quesation of acceptance among financial institutions. Are they able to appel to principles of responsible investing, while continuously attracting more conservative institutions? The following article gives you more information on the subject.

‘Mohammad Bin Rashid SME Fund’ decreed

Dubai's ruler Shaikh Al Maktoum decided to finance small and medium enterprises by a new SME Fund. Fund will offer financiall help to around 100 national entrepreneurial projects every year and thus support expecially young citizens in order to grow up a new generation of entrepreneurs to help UAE economy to thrive.

Lebanese lenders see 'great potential' in Syrian market

Lebanese banks anticipate the Syrian market to grow once the political stability will be reached. By now, there are seven Lebanesse banks that are operating in Syria.

UAE banking reforms: chip and pin debit card switch delayed

The Central Bank has postponed the implementation of three most important reforms regarding the security of chip and pin debit cards. According to the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Emirates NBD, the emirate's banks are not yet ready to implement the new security standards to protect clients against card fraud.

UAE the only Gulf state to improve in corruption ranking

The UAE has improved its ranking in terms of corruption and has moved one place up in a global ranking of countries perceived as the least corrupt. According to this year's survey, it is the only state in the Arabian Gulf to move to a better position. The annual study of the Berlin-based Transparency International examines the outside perceptions of dealing with public sector officials. It showed that the UAE reached the 27th place, alongside Qatar. The latter, on the other hand, has moved five places down since 2011.

Islamic Finance To Grow Significantly In 10-15 Years: Singapore DPM

It is expected that in the next 10 to 15 years Islamic Finance will offer significant opportunities for growth and diversification. Tharman Shanmugaratnam - Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance - expressed his optimistic attitude towards the prospects of Islamic finance. He pointed out that Islamic financial institutions have largly escaped significant damage in the global financial crisis as one of the main reasons for his attitude. In addition, he explained that this financial area has the opportunity to diversify into new growth areas such as trade and infrastructure financing in Asia and the emerging markets.

Waqaf, zakat are areas of growth in Islamic finance

As the global hub of Islamic finance, waqaf and zakat (tithe) management are key areas of growth for Malaysia. In a public lecture titled "Our Markets, Our Values — A principles-based approach to creating value in Muslim majority markets" in Kuala Lumpur, Iqbal Khan - CEO of Fajr Capital Ltd - pointed out that the goof position of Malaysia and the already existing regulations provide a stable ground for a number of areas of growth in terms of Islamic finance. His lecture particularly stressed on developments and key issues in the Muslim-majority markets.

UAE gov’t sets aside $410m to clear Emirati debts

AED1.05bn (US$410m) have been set aside by the government of the UAE in order to clear defaulted debts which Emirati nationals owe. According to a recent statement, the Higher Committee of the Nationals' Defaulted Debts Settlement Fund has given its approval for this sum complying with a directive by the Gulf state’s president HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The directive states that rescheduling of loan repayments by indebted citizens is not to exceed half of their monthly income. Banks on the other side have agreed to cut interest on monies owed by 1%.

KFH-Research seeks to prepare economic indicators for private sector services, business

According to a statement by Mr. Fahad Al-Mukhaizeem - strategy and corporate affairs general manager at Kuwait Finance House (KFH) - KFH-Research together with Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and Central Statistical Bureau intends to prepare economic indicators for the private sector. Moreover, they consider an upgrade to the mechanisms followed in its researches. Such a move will stabilize business and give additional value to the national economy. A documented scientific product will be released which will include a number of indicators in Kuwait's private sector business field.

Arabia CSR Network addresses thousands at World Forum on Responsible Business in Lille, France

Arabia CSR Network took part on the prestigious World Responsible Economy Forum thus representing the Arab region. The key issues of Forums where about 5000 business leaders, sustainability professionals and students came together were: sustainable marketing, corporate models and governance. The Network presented their key perspectives during the panel session and also speaking in plenum on the third day of the conference.

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