Saudi Gazette

Islamic finance key to fill funding gaps in sustainable development

The third plenary session of the first day of the Global Islamic Economy Summit 2016 examined whether blended finance is the answer to funding sustainable development. The session explored the role of wealthy Muslim governments, sovereign wealth funds and Islamic financial institutions in achieving sustainable development goals within a realistic timeframe. Dr. Mohammed Yousef Al Hashel, Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait, examined whether the sheer scale of sustainable development goals (SDGs) was responsible for a funding gap, as well as the best ways to address such obstacles. Investments in SDGs are not attractive to investors, he said, adding that the very nature of Islamic economy may offer a solution to these challenges. According to Dr Al Hashel, we need to progress from Shariah-compliant products to a Shariah-based system that doesn’t just mimic traditional banking, but rather innovates and creates new products and solutions.

IDB’s endowment fund to boost NGOs in #India

Muslim NGOs in India will be able to make use of Islamic Development Bank’s Awqaf Properties Investment Fund (APIF) to develop their endowments and generate funds for their various community development projects. According to Zafar Javeed, IDB’s national convener for India, APIF is in the process of identifying viable endowment projects. Javeed commended IDB group for financing about 300 educational and health-related projects across India over the past three decades. He said that the IDB was a big blessing for the Muslim community in India and there were many projects in the pipeline awaiting IDB aid. Referring to ongoing efforts to introduce interest-free banking in India, Javeed said former RBI governor Reghuram Rajan had hinted at introducing the system to achieve inclusive development.

Qinvest hikes revenues to $65.7 million in H1

#Qatar’s QInvest said that its revenues rose to $65.7 million and net profits increased to 25.3 million (QR92.1 million), compared to $24.4 million (QR88.7 million) in H1 2015. The main drivers behind the results include exits in the firm’s investments, strong performance in its international real estate portfolio and increased fee revenue. CEO of QInvest Tamim Hamad Al-Kawari said the company recorded a satisfactory half-year performance across all business lines in the face of economic uncertainties. QInvest is reviewing and stress-testing its portfolio to match the heightened volatility levels and headwinds of the markets.

IDB Private Sector #Forum fosters economic growth

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group hosted the IDB Group Private Sector Forum in Indonesia. The event was held in conjunction with Group's 41st Annual General Meeting. The forum involved panel discussions which deliberated on the activities, roles and support that have been carried out in member countries, with focus on Indonesia. The panel also touched on issues related to Islamic trade financing, investment challenges and export credit insurance. All private sector entities are open to coordinate with investors who are willing to invest in Indonesia as well as other member countries of the IDB Group.

Full Text of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030

The Council of Ministers presents Saudi Arabia’s vision for the future. Saudi Arabia will transform the Public Investment Fund into the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. They will expand the variety of digital services to reduce delays and cut bureaucracy. Goals by 2030 include increasing non-oil government revenue from SR163 billion to SR1 trillion, raising the country's ranking in the Government Effectiveness Index from 80 to 20, raising the ranking on the E-Government Survey Index from a current position of 36 to be among the top five nations.

GCC sovereign issuance can be hugely instrumental for takaful stability

The 11th annual World Takaful Conference concluded its two-day proceedings, following the launch of an intelligence report by the forum’s conveners, Middle East Global Advisors. "The Finance Forward World Takaful Report: Connecting the Dots, Forging the Future" was launched as part of WTC’s commitment to supporting the Takaful industry. The Report provides a way forward to addressing various challenges ranging from price wars and pricing regulation, to closing the gap of human capital, and includes contributions from UK & Netherlands-based boutique consultancy, Takaful Outsource. The 12th annual edition of WTC will take place in April 2017.

CMA staff attend course on ‘Islamic Economics’

As part of the training programs provided internally by Capital Market Authority (CMA), Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) has held the 2nd batch of the training course “Essentials of Islamic Economics and Finance” to CMA’s management team members and employees, on March 21-22, 2016, in Riyadh. The course was delivered by Sheikh Dr. Yousef Al-Shubaili and Dr. Sami al Suwailem. AAOIFI’s active institutional membership includes more than 13 regulatory and supervisory authorities (for capital markets, insurance and finance) and central banks. AAOIFI provides its technical and professional services to a number of supervisory and regulatory bodies across the globe.

Fitch ranks Saudi banking system 4th globally

The international rating agency Fitch ranked the Saudi banking system fourth-best and the strongest banking system in the world, after Australia, Canada and Singapore, said Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency Dr. Fahd Al-Mubarak. In a speech during the Islamic Banking and Finance Conference organized by Makkah-based Umm Al Qura University, he said that financial activity compatible with the provisions of Islamic law is witnessing a remarkable growth at the international level, with an average ratio estimated at 17% per annum.

East Africa new frontier for Islamic finance

East Africa could be the new frontier for Islamic finance following the launch of the first East Africa Islamic finance summit in Nairobi. Financial experts drawn from the region noted that East Africa features a potentially strong demand for Islamic services and that its growing reach promises a number of benefits. The Islamic finance industry has seen tremendous increase in recent years transcending its traditional geographic boundaries and its entrance into East Africa could revolutionize the financial sector. The summit which attracted participants and speakers from the region’s key institutions, financial regulators from Mauritius and Malaysia and experts in Islamic Finance charted the way forward for Islamic finance development in the region.

GCC insurance sector regulation urged to be scalable and profitable

The conveners of the longest running Insurance platform for the Middle East – the Middle East Insurance Forum (MEIF) – announced that a report on the region’s insurance industry will be launched at MEIF 2016 that will take place on Feb. 2-3, 2016 in Bahrain. The “Finance Forward Insurance Outlook Report 2016” will be launched at the forum. The report aims to help leaders in the insurance industry make key strategic decisions and capitalize on emerging opportunities. The report states that in 2014, growth in commercial lines grew just 6.6% (compared to 19.6% for personal lines) which may account for survey respondents’ more optimistic outlook for medium-term premium growth in personal lines. Many respondents are looking into online channels, particularly for personal lines, and into expanding outreach to underinsured consumers.

Correction to stay in global sukuk market

The global market for sukuk will remain at below – peak levels in 2016, Standard & Poor’s Rating Services forcast, predicting issuance to reach $50 billion – $55 billion in 2016, compared with $63.5 billion in 2015 and $116.4 billion in 2014. The correction started last year, mainly because the central bank of Malaysia (Bank Negara Malaysia; BNM) stopped issuing. Excluding the BNM effect, sukuk issuance dropped by around 5% in 2015 from 2014. According to S&P, three main factors will shape the performance of the sukuk market in 2016: monetary policy developments in the US and Europe, the drop in oil prices, and the possible lifting of sanctions on Iran. The first two factors are likely to drain liquidity from global and local markets.

Alinma Bank to disburse SR745 million dividend

The Alinma Bank Board of Directors has recommended the distribution of share dividend to its shareholders for the 2015 fiscal year. After approval at the bank’s next general assembly meeting in March 2016, shareholders will receive SR0.50 per share (5% of nominal value). The total disbursal will amount to SR745 million. Alinma Bank Chairman Engr. Abdulaziz Al-Zamil congratulated the bank’s staff and shareholders on a year of growth and success.

IDB Group president underlines financing and capacity building to preserve climate

President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, led a high-level delegation to the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21)” under way in Paris, France. Addressing a side event dubbed: “Climate Change: Financing and Capacity Building Challenges”, Dr. Ali expressed his pleasure to see 51 of IDB Group member countries had submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). According to Dr. Ali, the IDB Group, in 2014, launched its Renewable Energy for Poverty Reduction Program to address the energy challenges of its member countries via application of renewable energy resources.

Islamic finance ripe for growth: Al-Aboodi

In his keynote address at the IFN forum Saudi Arabia 2015, Khaled Al-Aboodi, CEO of Islamic Cooperation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) said that there is still a need of acquiring more knowledge and experience in Islamic finance. Al-Aboodi, while reviewing the latest global economic situation in the world, said growth remains moderate and uneven. The growth trajectories in emerging and developing markets vary significantly across countries, and in general, the outlook shows more weakening due to low prices of oil and other commodities, as well as the slowdown in China. As far as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is concerned, the economic growth prospects is further hampered by geopolitical tensions and security challenges in some countries, he said.

Compliance with ethical norms key to Islamic finance branding

The Global Ethical Finance Forum (GEFF) far exceeded global expectations after the first day of the 2-day gathering engaged the responsible investments industry from across Europe, East Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Over 150 leaders from the Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and faith-based investing sectors participated in historic discussions on various facets of ethical finance with the view of collectively forging the next chapter of the industry through collaboration and convergence. The final panel from the first day included a discussion among distinguished historians on the faith-based roots of ethical finance.

ICD partners with CHINCA on investment opportunities

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) signed a memorandum of understanding with China International Contractors Association (CHINCA) formalizing the parties’ cooperation in identifying and cultivating investment opportunities in the construction, infrastructure and other key industries by leveraging on areas of expertise and utilizing services currently offered by both parties. The strategic collaboration also aims to build a fruitful networking platform by developing and participating in business-matching forums as a means to identify forces shaping the industry and connect key industry players. CHINCA has more than 1,300 members to date, and about 800 members are engaged in international project contracting and investment.

The downside of Iranian banking

Iran may be about to restore banking links with the rest of the world after years of separation, but the process won't be easy. The Iranian banks' shaky finances and close ties with their government will increase the risks of dealing with them. And during their years of isolation, they have developed a version of Islamic finance that is in some ways markedly different from that practiced in other Muslim-majority states. The differences may make it hard for foreign banks, even ones from other big Islamic banking markets in the Gulf and southeast Asia, to do business in Iran. Major issues are the trading of debt and use of derivatives — these are two very complicated issues in any Islamic financial system, and in Iran we have very different approaches.

Over 50% of GCC career women eye board position

Career women in the GCC are ambitious and want to lead in their organizations, with over 50 percent of those surveyed aiming at senior or board level position within the next seven years, according to a breakthrough report conducted by the Pearl Initiative. The report, titled ‘Women’s Careers in the GCC – The CEO Agenda’, follows a GCC-wide research program on women in senior management. Its findings and recommendations are consistent with the Women Empowerment Principles. While the report acknowledges the significant progress that has been made in the region for working women, it highlights several key areas of concern.

Basel III requirements to strengthen Islamic banks’ liquidity management

Regulatory proposals for a liquidity coverage ratio for Islamic financial institutions could help address some of the industry's long-standing weaknesses, particularly the lack of high quality liquid assets (HQLA), Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said in the report “Basel III Requirements Could Strengthen Islamic Banks' Liquidity Management”. Moreover, last year, the Islamic Finance Services Board (IFSB) published guidance on quantitative measures for liquidity management in institutions offering Islamic financial services. This note set three main characteristics of high quality liquid assets (HQLA): low correlation with risky assets, an active and sizable market, and low volatility.

Jadwa, Apicorp buy majority stake in SMI

Jadwa Investment has announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Saudi Mechanical Industries (SMI) by the Jadwa Mechanical Opportunities Fund along with Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp). The investment in SMI marks Jadwa’s eighth private equity deal. In 2014, Jadwa completed two major Tadawul listings with Abdulmohsen Al Hokair Group and Al Hammadi Company for Development and Investment, and a full exit via a trade sale with Gulf United Foods Company. Jadwa also announced in September 2014 the full acquisition of Global Environmental Management Services.

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