Category Archives: Reports and publications

AAOIFI Standards 2010 edition published

AAOIFI Standards 2010 edition published


Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), the international standard-setting organisation for Islamic finance, has published its new standards publications.

It is entitled Sharia Standards 2010 and Accounting, Auditing, and Governance Standards 2010.

The Sharia Standards 2010 publication contains 41 Sharia standards including 11 new standards.

The new publication was made possible by the support from Alimtiaz Investment of Kuwait and Barwa Bank of Qatar.

AAOIFI secretary-general Dr Mohamad Nedal Alchaar said that the standards have helped Islamic financial institutions throughout the world to ensure that the products and services they offered complied with Sharia.

‘The standards have also managed to introduce a high degree of harmonisation of Islamic finance practices across the major Islamic finance markets and consequently place the industry in a stronger position to expand,’ he added.

Report: North America next big growth market for Islamic Finance

Report: North America next big growth market for Islamic Finance

As world economies struggle to move from recession to recovery, Islamic finance is being hailed as a possible alternative to risk-prone conventional financial services – even in the capitalist heartlands of the USA and Canada. Extensive evidence of this shift in action is presented in a new report called Islamic Finance in North America 2009 published tomorrow by Yasaar Media and co-published by Codexa Capital, UM Financial Group, King & Spalding, and Doha Islamic.

The report explores for the first time the true depth of penetration of Islamic finance in both the USA and Canada and concludes that both core North American markets could be set for a boom.

According to the report Islamic finance in North America has developed along two quite separate paths. The first path focuses on retail Islamic finance and centres mostly on home financing products and credit cards. The second path involves a number of high profile GCC-based Islamic investment banks and their deployment of hundreds of millions of dollars in private equity and real estate developments in North America.

With many global markets showing the first signs of emerging from the worst of the financial crisis, North America could be set to witness a surge in Islamic finance activity along both paths as institutions and individuals look for alternative financing propositions that shun the use of excessive risk. The significant inroads that Islamic finance has made in both the USA and Canada look set to be expanded upon in the years ahead.

Paul McNamara, editorial director of Yasaar Media, says, ‘Investors and businesses alike are still smarting from the worst ravages of the global recession and they are looking for a lower-risk alternative. Islamic financing structures are inherently more risk averse than their conventional counterparts and as a result such structures are now being studied closely in all sorts of markets – including highly sophisticated markets like those of North America’.

These important markets are examined for the first time as growth areas for Islamic finance. ‘Both the USA and Canada are home to some very experienced Islamic finance firms – both on the financial and the legal side – and many market observers are now watching closely to see how they will help accelerate development of Shariah financing in North America. These are lucrative markets and it makes sense that GCC- and Malaysia-based Islamic finance houses are watching them with great interest’, according to Mr. McNamara. 

Islamic banks’ assets grow by 66% in 2008

Islamic banks’ assets grow by 66% in 2008


Despite the global financial crisis, assets held by the 100 largest Islamic banks in the world raised by 66 percent in 2008 compared with previous year.

A study published by Asian Banker Research magazine says the assets of the Islamic banks increased to a total of $580 billion in 2008 — up from $350 billion in 2007.

This is while, the assets held by Asia’s 300 largest banks lifted by just 13.4 percent, the report says.

“Islamic finance has seen an incredible surge in popularity, based on stronger regulatory regimens and a better international understanding of its dynamics,” said Emmanuel Daniel, the magazine’s chief.

Islamic banking refers to a system of banking that is consistent with the principles of Islamic law. Islamic law or Sharia prohibits the payment of fees for the renting of money (Riba) for specific terms, as well as investing in businesses that provide goods or services considered contrary to its principles (Haraam).
Islamic banks are not authorized to invest in companies associated with tobacco, alcohol or gambling.

The report concludes that despite the current economic meltdown in the world “Islamic banks have continued to grow in prominence and size”.

The report said Saudi Arabian lenders were more profitable among other banks with Al-Rajhi Bank netting the highest earnings of $1.74 billion, according to the report, and Iranian banks were the biggest players in the global Islamic banking system.

Iran holds seven out of the top 10 rankings and 12 out of the 100 top Islamic banks, the magazine said.

More than 40 percent of the total assets of the top 100 banks belong to Iranian banks, according to the report.


S&P Reports ‘Sukuk’ Market is Growing, Despite ‘Some Roadblocks’

Insurance Journal: S&P Reports Sukuk Market is Growing, Despite Some Roadblocks


A report from Standard & Poor’s Paris office – The Sukuk Market Has Continued To Progress In 2009 Despite Some Roadblocks – notes that new issues of "sukuk (bonds compliant with Islamic law) topped $9.3 billion in the first seven months of 2009 compared with $11.1 billion during the same period in 2008.

"The smaller amount of issuance was due not only to the still-challenging market conditions and drying up of liquidity, but also to the less-supportive economic environment in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, particularly in the United Arab Emirates," explained credit analyst Mohamed Damak.

"The medium-term outlook for the sukuk market remains positive, though, in our view, given the strong pipeline–with sukuk announced or being talked about in the market estimated at about $50 billion–and efforts to resolve the major difficulties impeding sukuk market development."

Malaysia has taken the lead as the major country of issuance for sukuk, accounting for about 45 percent of sukuk issuances in the first seven months of 2009. Issuers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have contributed another 22 percent of sukuk issued during the same period.

S&P pointed out that the "default of a couple of sukuk was possibly partly responsible for the slowdown in issuance. The silver lining was that these defaults should provide the market with useful information on how sukuk will behave following default."

International takaful (Islamic insurance) market could be worth $7.7bn by 2012: Ernst & Young

International takaful (Islamic insurance) market could be worth $7.7bn by 2012: Ernst & Young


Takaful is the great success story of this region’s insurance industry, but will it ever catch on in the West, and are its Gulf prospects truly long-term?
From Manama to Malaysia, takaful, or Islamic insurance, is on the rise.While still a relatively immature industry, takaful is looking to ride on the back of the explosive growth of Islamic finance in the Arab world, and increase its share in the global insurance market.

Global accountancy firm Ernst & Young predict that the international takaful market could be worth $7.7bn by 2012, up from a mere $1.4bn in 2004. Last October, the world’s second largest reinsurer Swiss Re said in a report that takaful grew 25 percent a year from 2004 to 2007, while the conventional insurance market posted low double digit growth at 10 percent in the same period.

Half of the market will go Takaful. It could be as high as that; up to 50 percent in five years.Like all Islamic financial products, takaful has to adhere to the strict principles of Sharia law. Income derived from interest is forbidden, along with revenue derived from prohibited activities or trade such as gambling, pornography, and alcohol. Takaful in Arabic means joint guarantee and it works on the basis that a group of people agree to share risk by putting money into investment funds, sometimes through a charitable donation, and then draw on these funds when there is damage or loss to a party.

"There is tremendous opportunity because it [insurance] is very underserved – insurance as a whole is very underpenetrated [in the Gulf], says Dinesh Chandiramani, director of distribution in equity and credit sales at Dubai-based investment bank Arqaam Capital.

"People are looking at decent growth for the sector of around 15 to 20 percent on an annualised basis because there is a nascent market right now which is in the process of being built up. It could grow significantly beyond that if the product is well-received and people start to buy into it," he continues.

Nick Frei, chief executive of Bahraini Islamic insurer t’azur predicts that takaful could have a 50 percent market share in the Gulf’s insurance sector by 2014.
"I firmly believe half of the market will go takaful. It could be as high as that; up to 50 percent in five years" says Frei.

But the rise of takaful has not been plane sailing. It still only makes up a fraction of the global insurance market and the sector’s growth has been hamstrung by a dearth of takaful reinsurers. Some are emerging, such as the Dubai-based Takaful Re, but generally there are too few companies to underwrite the risks of the smaller takaful players.

Therefore, many takaful companies go down the conventional route when it comes to reinsurance, and because of the lack of options available to the industry, it usually comes with Sharia scholars’ approval.

Currently, Malaysia, the world largest Islamic financial centre, is the market leader in takaful. It is home to some of the biggest Islamic operators in the world such as Takaful Malaysia, which aims to capture over half of the market share of the industry in under three years-despite the economic gloom. In comments made by the group’s managing director Datuk Hassan earlier in the month, the industry is worth RM12bn ($3.65bn), with his company’s current share at $1.13bn.

In conventional insurance, risk is sold at a price depending on age, background and financial status, introducing a largely commercial aspect. In takaful, transactions that are deemed to be uncertain are banned.For example, a Western insurance broker will sell risk, such as home insurance, not knowing whether there will be claim on the house.

In the West, insurance companies may invest in ventures which make their money from interest or in sectors that are forbidden by Islam.