Dr. Hussein Hamid Hassan calls for supreme Shari’ah board

Dr. Hussein Hamid Hassan calls for supreme Shari’ah board


The call to institute a supreme Shari’ah board in the GCC has been taken up Dr. Hussein Hamid Hassan, a leading Shari’ah scholar.

Hassan made the call at a briefing session organized by Dubai’s Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance to publicize its launch of a policy brief on the corporate governance of Islamic financial institutions operating in Dubai.

Hassan said that he believed the industry needed a collaborative body encompassing the leading Shari’ah scholars from across the GCC, in order to streamline the process of issuing Fatwas and help speed up the development of products.

When Hassan was asked by The Islamic Globe, how he judges the Qatar Central Bank’s move to separate Islamic and conventional banking, he answered that this was: “A step in the right direction for more transparency,” as regulators should not be treating Islamic banks like conventional banks. Hassan also telegraphed that an Islamic Banking Academy was on the verge of being set up “in the near future” in Dubai.

Source: http://www.theislamicglobe.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=484:leading-scholar-calls-for-supreme-shariah-board&catid=16:article&Itemid=38

Centre for Islamic finance planned at Durham University

Centre for Islamic finance planned at Durham University




DURHAM University will build on its role as a leading UK centre for teaching Islamic finance and business with a new doctoral training centre.

The Durham Centre for Islamic Economics and Finance is a collaboration between the University’s Durham Business School and the School of Government and International Affairs.

Durham has been a centre for research in Islamic finance for over 25 years, with a significant history of PhD study which will enter a new era with the launch of the centre in the autumn. The new centre will build on this success and the international popularity of the Durham Islamic Finance Summer School, which began yesterday.

Professor Rob Dixon, dean of Durham Business School, said: “Due to such exciting and dynamic developments in the Islamic financial and banking sector, it is important that financiers and bankers who are working in the field, or who wish to enter the Islamic financial market, are aware of the principles, operations, techniques and mechanism of Islamic finance and financial products as well as the dynamics of Islamic financial and capital markets.”

Dr Mehmet Asutay, the director of the summer school and a senior member of the new centre, said: “The centre will provide exclusive facilities for research students who have chosen to specialise in Islamic finance, which will enhance Durham University’s long-standing efforts to contribute to the development of academic and intellectual discourse and the practice of Islamic finance.

“It will also support the international reputation and recognition of Durham University.”

Source: http://www.nebusiness.co.uk/business-news/latest-business-news/2011/07/05/centre-for-islamic-finance-planned-at-durham-university-51140-28995315/

Islamic banking ideal to boost ‘green finance’, CEO Doha Bank

Islamic banking ideal to boost ‘green finance’, CEO Doha Bank





“Islamic Banking is the right platform to boost ‘green financing’ as it is based on the concept of promoting good practices and values,” said R Seetharaman, Chief Executive Officer of Doha Bank, delivering the inaugural address at a seminar on Islamic economics, organised by the Indian Islamic Association – Qatar (IIAQ), under the title “Towards an Alternative Economy” at Omar Bin Al Khattab Preparatory School for Boys in Doha on Friday.

Seetharaman said Islamic banking is not just a financial system but it is part of a total value-based social system that seeks to enhance the general welfare of society as a whole.

“Sustainable environment development, developing water resources, facing global warming, ensuring women’s participation and promotion of small-scale enterprises are all part of green financing. This is clearly an area where Islamic Banking can play a pivotal role,” he said.

Seetharaman, however, noted that Islamic Banking is currently in its infancy and faces several challenges. Young people should be encouraged to take up these challenges to ensure that this significant economic system carries through and plays a leading role in the current global financial stage.

He added that Islamic Banking is growing in popularity as Japan has just issued five Sukook Ijara (Islamic leasing bonds) and many other countries including Italy, Canada and Spain are showing great interest in such products and services of Islamic banking. In the UK, there is a full-fledged Islamic bank, called the Islamic Bank of Britain, and there are 22 counters at conventional banks that offer Islamic banking services and products.

Seetharaman noted that infrastructure development projects in India can attract foreign investment if the country opens up its banking sector to Islamic banking. India’s 11th Planning Commission has earmarked $542bn for this sector, but hardly any money comes from the Gulf-based financiers as they are reluctant to deposit in an interest-based system.

P P Abdur Rasheed, former Head of Economics Dept at Government College, Malappuram, India, and K Abdullah Hassan, Head of Research at Islamic University, Santapuram, India, also delivered speeches on ‘Fundamentals of Islamic Economics’ and ‘Basic Principles of the Zakah System in Islam’.
Nizar Kocheri, lawyer and noted humanitarian activist, delivered a felicitation speech and Abdul Wahid Nadvi, Acting President of Indian Islamic Association, Qatar, presided over the ceremony. V T Faisal, General Secretary of IIAQ, welcomed the guests and Taj Aluva proposed a vote of thanks.

Source: http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=444799&version=1&template_id=36&parent_id=16

Shariah financings in Indonesia up by 40%

Shariah financings in Indonesia up by 40%

Record car sales in Indonesia helped fuel 50 percent growth in Shariah-compliant banking assets last year and Islamic lenders are setting up booths at automobile shows to further develop the market.

Bank Muamalat Indonesia, the country’s oldest Shariah-compliant lender, said consumer loans jumped 40 percent in 2010 after taking part in exhibitions last year.

BCA Syariah, the Islamic unit of Indonesia’s biggest financial services company by market value, is offering a rate of 11 percent on a five-year car loan. Bank Syariah Mandiri is also attending the shows.

Tapping Indonesia’s burgeoning consumer loan demand will help the country’s Islamic finance industry catch up to neighboring Malaysia, the world’s largest sukuk issuer. Shariah banking assets in Indonesia make up 3.2 percent of the total, compared with about 20 percent in Malaysia.

“The retail market is where banks are focusing as the margins are good and it is profitable,” Adrian Gunadi, the head of retail banking at Bank Muamalat in Jakarta, said on Saturday.

“The sukuk market will take time to pick up because of regulatory challenges.”

Islamic banking assets in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, grew to Rp 100.2 trillion ($11 billion) as of Nov. 30 from Rp 67 trillion at the end of 2009, Mulya Siregar, the head of Shariah banking at Bank Indonesia, said on Thursday.

The central bank aims to increase the amount to Rp 130 trillion this year, he said.

Car Sales Jump

Consumer financing made up 32.4 percent of the total of Rp 65.9 trillion of Shariah-compliant loans disbursed in the first 11 months of last year, according to central bank data.

Automotive sales surged 57 percent last year and Indonesia may overtake Thailand as Southeast Asia’s biggest car market by 2014, said Jody Jodjana, chief executive officer at Toyota distributor Auto 2000, Indonesia’s largest car dealer.

Indonesia passed a law in July 2008 to allow financial institutions to offer services that comply with Shariah principles, 25 years after Malaysia. Indonesia now has 11 Islamic banks.

Sales of sukuk, which pay asset returns to comply with Islam’s ban on interest, rose 56 percent in Indonesia to Rp 26.2 trillion in 2010, according to Bloomberg.

Sale Next Month

Indonesia will sell three-year Islamic bonds to individual investors next month, Rahmat Waluyanto, head of debt management at the Finance ministry, said.

The government failed to raise the targeted amount in 12 consecutive local-currency sukuk auctions in 2010 as investors demanded higher yields, saying the debt was riskier because of a lack of secondary-market trading volume.

Global Shariah-compliant bonds returned 12.8 percent last year, the HSBC/NASDAQ Dubai US Dollar Sukuk Index shows. Debt in emerging markets gained 12.2 percent, according to a JPMorgan Chase index.

Growing Economy

Bank Indonesia forecasts the economy will expand as much as 6.5 percent this year from an estimated 6 percent in 2010.

“The Indonesian economy is expanding and gross domestic product per capita has surpassed $3,000,” said Winang Budoyo, an economist at Bank CIMB Niaga. “Demand for non-food items, including cars, will be trending up.”

Shariah-compliant auto financing in Indonesia is offered using a murabahah contract where the bank buys the car from the dealer and sells it at a mark-up, roughly equivalent to current interest rates, to the customer.

Financing Rates

Car financing currently makes up 35 percent of Bank Muamalat’s total consumer loans, up from only 20 percent in 2009, Gunadi said. BCA Syariah, which started operations nine months ago, set up its first motor show booth in November, said Soegiarto Pribadi, head of business.

The company offers five-year car loans, compared with three-year non-Shariah-compliant loans offered by parent, Bank Central Asia.

“Before the road show we had no customers applying for our car loans,” Pribadi said. “Now, 15 percent of BCA Syariah’s consumer loans are for cars.”

Source: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/business/shariah-loans-up-40-percent-on-surging-car-sales/419014

Dubai Exports Islamic Finance to Europe

Dubai Exports Islamic Finance to Europe

While the conventional financial system is recovering from the fallout of the international financial crisis Islamic finance on the other hand is growing rapidly. Statistics show that global Islamic banking assets have grown approximately 10% per annum from the mid 1990s when they were about US$150 billion.

Today, global Islamic financial assets stand at approximately US800 billion. Industry experts claim that over the next decade the sector may reach US$4 trillion. The growth of Islamic Financial Services has been driven by a growing Islamic population that is enjoying a rapid rise in purchasing power, due to better education and employment opportunities. This has been supported by financial engineering and innovation in the provision of Islamic financial products and services.

No longer is Islamic finance limited to simply the provision of interest free bank accounts but includes a whole spectrum of such as fund of funds, exchange traded funds, hedge funds and real estate funds are gaining wide acceptance. These new products have increased investor awareness of Islamic products. The same is true in the corporate sector whereby Islamic financial innovation has developed products while being shariah compliant meet the needs of the modern business.

The financial innovation has been greatly assisted by financial centers and their regulators who have understood the importance of the sector and its unique structure. In this respect Dubai has become the leader and pioneer with the first recognized Islamic bank being established in the country, the first Islamic stock exchange and not only does it have the greatest number of listed Islamic bonds or sukuks, but also the largest ever sukuk issued.

Moreover, with its business clusters such as the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), this has been a catalyst for the development of diverse range shariah compliant products. The Centre has allowed a number of Shariah compliant firms to develop their products and services. In terms of regulation Dubai through the Dubai Financial Services Authority has developed advanced level of regulation to supervise the firms within the DIFC. Dubai has shown that it can be innovative through the development of new shariah compliant products to meet the needs of an ever increasing and sophisticated investor.

"The expertise of Dubai in the area of Islamic Financial Services is something that we hope to capitalize through our export facilitation services"’ commented Engineer Saed Al Awadi, the CEO of Dubai Exports, an agency within Dubai Department of Economic Development. Al Awadi continued to state that, "we have carried out two very successful trade missions in Islamic financial services which have linked our firms with opportunities in foreign markets".

Dubai Exports held a seminar to highlight Islamic Financial Opportunities in Germany and France which are two of the main economies within the Eurozone. The seminar was aimed at the very senior management within the Islamic financial services sector.

The German market poses great opportunities for Islamic Financing, with a population of 4 million Muslims that holds wealth of up to €25 billion. This potential is further bolstered by a significant rate of saving in Muslim households, which at 18% is nearly double the national average. Almost 83% of the total Muslim population identifies as religious, and consequently serves as an ideal customer base for products offered in Islamic Financing. This is even with a large demographic of young residents, where a 77% majority of the Muslim population falls between the ages 14 to 49 years.

"More than 70% of Muslims in Germany responded in a survey last year that they are interested in Islamic Finance products, and of these nearly 60% of respondents would consider availing of such services if offered by an existing German bank," stated Dr Baltz, who is a senior lawyer with Amereller legal Consultants and one of the speaker’s at Dubai Exports’ seminar.

Dr Baltz further added that, "A chief advantage for the development of Islamic Financing in Germany is the absence of any restrictive regulations that could hinder the practices and products of Islamic banking. This is partially because the Federal Financial Services Authority (BaFin), Germany’s banking regulator did not recognise Islamic Financing until much recently, and thus there were no specific regulations surrounding Islamic banking products. "

Meanwhile, Dr Goepfrich, CEO of AHK Germany announced that, "Dubai with its expertise in the area of Islamic Financial services is an ideal partner for Germany firms seeking to enter the sector."

Although, foreign expansion is natural for Dubai’s financial institutions they must however be aware of the implications of their domestic regulatory commitments. Judy Waugh from Al Tamimi and Company spoke at the seminar regarding this aspect. Waugh stated that, "sensible foreign expansion implies that firms adhere to both the home regulation as we alls that of their host country."

The door to foreign expansion has been possible as in recent years, a number of countries have taken the initiative of making the necessary changes to their legal and regulatory systems so as to allow Islamic financial institutions to be established and recognized at par with conventional financial firms.

"These changes provide considerable opportunities to our firms and we hope to capitalize on them" commented Al Awadi who also announced that AHK and Dubai Exports will be leading a Trade Mission consisting of financial institutions from Dubai to Germany and France in April of this year.

Source: http://ae.zawya.com/story.cfm/sidZAWYA20110125105229