Takaful chairman steps down

The Chairman of Islamic insurer Abu Dhabi National Takaful Co. (Takaful) resigned on Tuesday, according to a statement on the Abu Dhabi bourse. No explanation was giving for Khadem Al Qubaisi’s resignation. He has been replaced by Vice-Chairman Khamis Buharoon. Nasser M. Al Murr Al Za’abi has filled the vacated board seat, according to a separate statement on the bourse. Last month, Takaful reported a nearly 25 per cent drop in second quarter net profits. The company made Dh15 million in net profits for the three months ending June 30. Takaful said the fall in net profits was largely due to the increase in net claims incurred in the motor line of business. Earlier, Al Qubaisi was reported to have said that Takaful is in the process of obtaining an international financial rating.

Islamic banks allow tobacco purchase now

Islamic banks that previously did not allow their cards to be used to make purchases at tobacco-selling stores have now changed their policy, except for one of the capital’s major banks. However, all Islamic banking institutions still do not allow their debit and credit cards to make payments at liquor stores and bars. The capital’s national Islamic bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), has implemented this only this year and is still strictly prohibiting their clients from using their cards at alcohol-serving locations. Meanwhile, other institutions such as Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) and Al Hilal Bank have more rigorous policies pertaining to the use of their cards at bars, tobacco-selling facilities and casinos. However, there is a loophole since customers can use the cards in places that serve alcohol but are not registered as bars or liquor stores.

Gulf banks lead overseas expansion

The Gulf banks are fast replacing European lenders in expansion within the Middle East region and into some of the fast growing emerging markets in Asian and Africa in the context of improving health of their balance sheets and strong support from shareholders. Banks from GCC, particularly those from the UAE and Qatar are in the forefront of overseas expansion.First Gulf Bank (FGB), for example, announced last month that it has a new representative office in South Korea as part of plans to expand its presence in Asia Pacific. Qatari banks have been seeking overseas expansion to cut dependence on local markets and access trade flows across the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Doha Bank is expanding its presence in Hong Kong, India and Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan central bank plan to boost Islamic banking

State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) five-year strategic plan will drive strong asset growth in the Islamic finance sector, given the high domestic demand for Islamic banking. SBP’s plan targets a 15 per cent share of banking system assets for the sector by 2018, up from around 10 per cent as of December 2013. The National Bank of Pakistan will convert around 6 per cent of conventional branches into Islamic-banking branches over the next two years. Although the sector is expanding rapidly, the Islamic operations of the top five banks — National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank, MCB Bank, Allied Bank, and United Bank are small and currently account for less than 2 per cent of their assets on average. Moreover, rapid growth in the sector is likely to weaken asset quality.

Evolution of socially responsible investing

Impact investments, also known as responsible or ethical investing , are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact, e.g. in the sector of education, health services or financial services. Compared to the general meaning of impact investing, in Islamic countries, it focuses primarily on excluding "sin" businesses rather than on positive impact on particular philanthropic entities.

India offers vast scope for Islamic banking

It was reported that Indian authorities intend to introduce some form of interest-free banking. Thus, the country’s unbanked Muslim populations shall be brought into mainstream banking. This initiative is likely to result in a huge rise in Islamic Banking and in a significant gain for Indian banking as well. While a channel for substantial fund flow from areas such as the Gulf region will be opening up, a huge number of new customers will join the Indian banking sector.


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