IFDI 2016 highlights resilient growth in the Islamic finance industry

IFDI 2016 highlights resilient growth in the Islamic finance industry

  • Islamic finance assets grew 7% hitting US$ 2 trillion at the end of 2015
  • 2015’s drop in oil prices took a toll on the performance of financial institutions
  • 622 institutions provided Islamic finance education in 2015
  • 35 countries practise Islamic finance regulation in 2015


Manama, Bahrain, December 6, 2016 – Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), the private sector development arm of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), today released the key findings of the fourth edition of the Islamic Finance Development Report at the World Islamic Banking conference (WIBC) 2016, held in  Bahrain.


The report continues to examine key statistics, top performers and the trends across five indicators that are significant for the development of the US$2 trillion Islamic finance industry across 124 countries.

Global Islamic finance development, as measured by the IFDI global average value, declined to 8.8 in 2016 from 9.9 in 2015, reflecting the poor performance of many nations due to aspects that are based on actual market practice, such as financial performance and corporate social responsibility. Malaysia, Bahrain and the UAE continue to dominate the IFDI report for the 4th consecutive year. However, Malaysia posted a slight decline in its overall IFDI performance in 2016, as a result of weaker financial performance. Outside of the top 15, noteworthy emerging countries that have moved up the IFDI rankings are South Africa, Morocco, Tanzania, Japan and Russia, with each nation taking serious steps towards developing their Islamic finance industries.


Among the regions with high potential in Islamic finance is West Africa. Khaled Al Aboodi, CEO of ICD said: “Currently, West Africa, and Africa in general, is at a stage where there is a need to broaden the source of funds required to support its large infrastructure deficit and plug its revenue shortfall caused by the global commodity slump, and Islamic finance can be the solution. The recent sovereign issues in Africa will not only serve as an impetus for other African governments to follow suit and diversify their financing instruments via sukuk, but they will help the Islamic finance industry to mature and pave the way for private sector growth and the development of capital markets in countries where they are still nascent.”

Unprecedented oil price storm hindered Islamic finance performance, but not asset growth

The impact of global events like the sharp drop in oil prices lowered the financial performance of countries that have an Islamic finance presence, like the GCC. Although the drop in oil prices did not impede the growth of global or GCC Islamic finance assets (except for Kuwait which reported a 3% decline in assets), it did lead to a decline in profitability measures such as ROA. It also resulted in negative equity performances for a variety of listed Islamic financial institutions, particularly in takaful and Shariah-compliant equities that also make up part of Islamic fund portfolios. Sukuk was the least vulnerable of the asset classes, however the sector witnessed lower issuance volumes in 2015.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia held the largest amount of Islamic finance assets worldwide (US$ 447 billion), while Malaysia dropped in ranking to hold the 3rd largest asset base (US$ 434 billion.) This was down to slow asset growth that was not sufficient to offset the devaluation of the ringgit in 2015. Iran remains the world’s 2nd largest Islamic finance jurisdiction (US$ 414 billion).

Nadim Najjar, Managing Director at Thomson Reuters, Middle East and North Africa said: “Despite lower financial performance by some in 2015, we maintain a positive outlook for the industry projecting those Islamic finance assets to reach US$ 3.5 trillion by 2021. We have seen South Asian countries post the greatest amount of growth in Islamic finance assets after the introduction of Islamic windows for different financial institutions, which shows the increased acceptance of Islamic finance products in the region. Islamic banking remains strong in many countries and its growth is also supported by the continued development and introduction of it and other Islamic finance sectors in new countries.”

East and West gear up for a renewed Islamic finance presence through research and education

There were 622 Islamic finance education providers in 2015, while 2,224 research papers were produced worldwide between 2013 and 2015. Among the key enablers for the development of Islamic finance education are Islamic education institutions, which can be found in abundance in Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan. Turning to the West, countries with developed higher education systems, such as European nations Luxembourg and Belgium are joining the ranks of Islamic finance education. Meanwhile, the UK has also benefited from the demand for Islamic finance education from Islamic markets.

A need for better corporate governance through the regulation of Islamic financial institutions

Governance saw steady growth, as measured by the Regulation, Shariah and Corporate Governance sub-indicators. There are 35 countries with at least one type of Islamic finance regulation in practice. Meanwhile, several countries with low corporate governance values need to strengthen their financial reporting framework for Islamic financial institutions. This is evidenced by the low number of disclosed items that need to be reported in annual or financial reports. However, Malaysia and Pakistan made great strides in upholding Shariah governance framework during 2015, while African nations Nigeria and Morocco are moving towards a centralized Shariah board approach. There were 1,068 Shariah scholars representing different Islamic financial institutions in 2015.

Lack of CSR transparency in Islamic financial institutions remains the key issue

Corporate Social Responsibility is another indicator that was weaker in terms of development. There are two measures when it comes to a CSR mandate: one is the disclosure of CSR activities by Islamic financial institutions which was low as  measured in different Islamic financial institutions’ annual or financial reports. The other is the total amount of CSR funds disbursed by these institutions, which reached US$ 672 million in 2015. There is still a need for better transparency of Qard al-Hasan – one of the components of CSR funds disbursed – as few institutions disclosed their amounts.

Buzz for Islamic finance diminishes slightly compared to previous years

The popularity of Islamic finance declined due to a slight fall in the number of conferences held and exclusive news items, sliding to 112 and 17,795 respectively in 2015. The most extensive Islamic finance news was generated from the GCC which soared on the back of numerous stories on how the drop in oil prices impacted the Gulf and Middle East’s different Islamic finance sectors. In addition, 2015 has witnessed notable efforts to spread awareness of Islamic finance through seminars across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Europe. In total there were 213 seminars held globally in 2015.


To learn more about IFDI 2016 and to download the ICD Thomson Reuters Islamic Finance Development Report, please visit https://www.zawya.com/mena/en/ifg-publications/201116120632M/

Sukuk maintains positive outlook; undeterred by continued slowdown-Report

Sukuk maintains positive outlook; undeterred by continued slowdown-Report


  • Sukuk issued up to Q3, 2016 dropped by 18.4% to stand at US$ 39.8 billion
  • 13 jurisdictions issued 339 sukuk by Q3, 2016
  • Total global outstanding sukuk grew to US$ 326.8 billion from US$ 309.8 billion
  • Market players are optimistic as most expect a boost in sukuk issuance in 2017, to be between US$ 75 – US$ 99.9 billion
  • The gap between supply and demand is forecasted to reach US$ 271.3 billion by 2021


Manama, Bahrain, December 6, 2016 – Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, released today the findings of its fifth consecutive Sukuk Perceptions and Forecast study.

Despite a bleak 2015, market players remained hopeful for robust year ahead with expectations of oil-exporting countries in core markets to turn to sukuk as a primary debt management tool. Core markets have adapted to ongoing low oil prices, while apprehension over expected global interest hikes has begun to subside. However, the decision from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to cut short-term sukuk issuances continues to dampen sukuk supply. Moreover, the shift in sovereign issuers’ preference from sukuk to conventional bonds has contributed further to the decline in supply. Total sukuk issued in the first 9 months of 2016 dropped further by 18.46% to US$ 39.8 billion from US$ 48.8 billion for the same period in 2015.



Nadim Najjar, Managing Director, Middle East & North Africa, Thomson Reuters, said: “The global sukuk market continued to drop in terms of volume and value during 2016, albeit at a much slower pace than in 2015. Last year, expectations were set on governments of oil-exporting countries, mainly in the GCC, increasing their sukuk issuances to cover their widening budget deficits that resulted from persistently low oil prices. These expectations were curbed. Although these governments, mainly GCC, increased their overall debt issuance, these were mostly geared towards conventional bonds.”

He continued: “This year, the sukuk pipeline is valued at US$ 22 billion, compared to a stronger pipeline of US$ 32 billion last year. However, there are signs indicating the expansion of the sukuk market, especially in Africa. In 2016, we have seen the return of Ivory Coast with their second issuance, after launching their debut sukuk in 2015. The Togolese government issued their debut sukuk earlier this year. Other African countries, including Nigeria and Kenya, have issued new sukuk regulations as a precursor to launching their first sovereign sukuk.”

The report found that both potential demand and supply of sukuk are expected to grow, with demand substantially exceeding supply until 2021. The gap between supply and demand is forecasted to be US$ 143.1 billion in 2017, increasing to US$ 178.4 billion in 2018 and reaching US$ 271.3 billion in 2021. The supply of sukuk is projected to recover in 2017 with 10% growth, based on expectations that demand for bonds issued by governments of oil-exporting countries begins to subside once foreign investors find similar returns in their home countries with the reversal of negative yields. These GCC governments are expected to return to issuing sukuk to fund their deficits and capitalize on increasing demand from Islamic investors. This growth in supply is expected to remain steady over the following 4 years (2018 to 2021).

In addition, the report also highlights shifts in sukuk market attributes. International sukuk gained 10% market share of new issuances from issuances denominated in domestic currencies. This has resulted in the US Dollar overtaking the Malaysian Ringgit as the most issued currency, accounting for 45% of issuances.si-sovereign issuances become more prevalent this year, with its share increasing by 7% as the shares of both sovereign and corporate issuances declined.

The findings in this report are based on a survey of sukuk lead arrangers, investors, and other key market players including regulators, legal advisors, and rating agencies predominantly based in Islamic markets in MENA and Southeast Asia. The survey was conducted in August and September 2016. The primary empirical data gathered from the survey was subsequently developed to provide forward-looking analytics on the appetites and preferences of sukuk investors for 2017 and beyond. In this year’s report, we have also interviewed key market players to give their opinion on issues and trends in the sukuk market, such as the decline in sukuk supply and liquidity, and the shift of GCC sovereign issuers to conventional bonds.

The Sukuk Perceptions & Forecast 2017 will be launched at the World Islamic Banking Conference on 6th December 2016 in Bahrain. To download the report, please visit https://www.zawya.com/mena/en/ifg-publications/241116082905W/


6 Vital Ways Your Kidneys are Keeping You Alive – Dr. Ali Al Harbi

Why should I care about my kidneys?

6 Vital Ways Your Kidneys are Keeping You Alive

Dr. Ali Al Harbi, Middle East Medical Director, Diaverum

With all the attention lately surrounding heart disease and strokes, diabetes and obesity, kidneys are often overlooked.After all, just how important can these two little bean-shaped organs be? Turns out, very important. Your kidneys are vital organs. In other words, without them, you couldn’t survive.

“In the complex machine that is the human body, kidneys play a vital role in many ways,”says Dr. Ali Al Harbi, Nephrologist- kidney doctor- at Diaverum clinics, the leading private kidney clinic in KSA, offering a full range of chronic kidney and dialysis services on behalf of the Saudi government in its 21 clinics in 15 cities.

“Kidneys are sometimes forgotten but taking adequate care of them can be the key to avoiding an onslaught of diseases in the future.”

8 surprising ways your kidneys help your body:

  1. Removing toxic waste. The primary function of the kidney is to remove wastes-mainly urea-from the body. Toxic build-up ofwastes in the body can lead to life-threatening diseases such as Chronic Kidney Failure.Every day the kidneys process about 200 quarts (190 liters) of blood and filter out about 2 quarts of waste products and extra water. To effectively handle this volume of blood, the kidneys are equipped with lots of blood vessels. If you extracted all the blood vessels from both kidneys, stretched them out then measured them, their collective length would be approximately 160 km!


  1. Regulating salt content and water. If you had a salty meal, for example, the salt is absorbed into your blood. When the salty blood reaches the kidneys, the excess salt is removed and passed into the urine. Remarkably, the kidneys are able to determine the correct concentration of salt (or sodium) that should remain in the blood, and remove any excess.


  1. Keeping your blood-pressure in check. This is done by hormonal reactions and regulating the volume of water in the body, preventing issues around hypertension, stroke and heart attack which can result from unchecked high or low blood pressure.


  1. Maintaining your body’s pH balance. If blood is too acidic, which means there is an excess of hydrogen ions, the kidneys remove these excess ions through urine. Bacteria -which are at the root of many serious degenerative diseases- flourish in an acidic environment. By regulating the body’s pHat a neutral pH 7.4, the kidneys help to maintain an environment that prevents diseases and promotes the efficient functioning of all bio-systems within the body.


  1. Blood red cell production. One such hormone is erythropoietin -eh-RITH-ro-POY-eh-tin – (try saying that three times fast!). It plays a key role in the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. When the kidneys detect a decline in the red blood cells in the body, it produces erythropoietin. This hormone is released into the bloodstream and goes to the bone marrow, which triggers the production and release of more red blood cells.


  1. Strengthening bones.Many people are unaware that processing vitamin D is a function of the kidney.This is a really interesting fact for the region, with figures showing that up to78 per cent of the people are vitamin D deficient. Here’s what the kidneys do to help process vitamin D: The kidneys convert calcidiol to calcitriol, which is an active form of vitamin D. In this active form, vitamin D promotes calcium absorption by the small intestine and makes it available for bone development.


What can you do?

Now that you’ve seen the multi-tasking abilities of these small yet powerful organs, what can you do to keep your kidneys happy?

  1. Keep active and eat healthy.Keeping fit helps to reduce your blood pressure and reduces the risk of Chronic Kidney Disease. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.


  1. Drink plenty of water per day. Getting sufficient H2O helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body. Consult your healthcare provider to determine what the ideal amount of water is for you as this depends on many factors including gender, exercise, climate, health conditions, pregnancy and breast feeding.


  1. Keep regular control of your blood sugar level. Kidney damage from diabetes can be reduced or prevented if detected early. Diabetics need to be extra careful as they are 50% more likely to develop kidney damage. Be sure to get so regular tests to check their kidney functions.


  1. Monitor your blood pressure. Although many people may be aware that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, few know that it is also the most common cause of kidney damage.High blood pressure is especially likely to cause kidney damage when associated with other factors like diabetes, high cholesterol and Cardio-Vascular Diseases.


  1. Limit salt. Did you know thatthe recommended sodium intake is 5-6 grams of salt per day? That is the equivalent of a teaspoon! Try and limit the amount of processed and restaurant food and do not add salt to food. It will be easier to control your intake if you prepare the food yourself with fresh ingredients.


  1. Avoid smoking. Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 percent.

“Of course you should always consult your healthcare provider’, warns Dr. Alharbi, ‘as everybody has a different family and personal healthcare history.”

WorldRemit and Xpress Money announce global money transfer partnership

WorldRemit and Xpress Money announce global money transfer partnership


~New money transfer routes toopen up acrossAfrica and Asia~


London &Dubai, December 6th, 2016: Digital money transfer service WorldRemitand global money transfer brand Xpress Moneytoday announce a partnership to open up new remittance routes across Africa and Asia.


Through Xpress Money’s extensive agent partner network, WorldRemit customers will be able to make secure, instant money transfers to be collected as cash. Initial countries in the rollout will include Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tonga.Over the next few months, customers will also be able to receive money transfers in their bank accounts, mobile wallets, etc.


With the WorldRemit app or website, customers send more than 500,000 transfersevery month to more than 125 destinations. WorldRemit, known as the ‘WhatsApp of money’, makes sending a remittance as easy as sending an instant message.


Xpress Money is one of the fastest growing instant money transfer companies, present in 160 countries through 180, 000 cash payout locations across the globe. It has regional offices in 25 countries including UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Philippines, United Arab Emirates and India, amongst others. Xpress Money offers convenient services to its customers globally, which include Cash Payouts, Account Credits, Remit Card or ATM, Mobile Wallets and Door Delivery Services.


Ismail Ahmed, founder and CEO at WorldRemit, comments: “We want to offer our customers the widest and most convenient choice of payout options. Xpress Money is a trusted and dependable money transfer brand with a fantastic network of agents across the world. Our partnership will extend our footprint into new territories and will enable even more people to make secure, instant money transfers.”


Sudhesh Giriyan, COO at Xpress Money added, “Customer convenience ranks high on our list of priorities; through this partnership with WorldRemit we are elevating that level of our customers’ convenience as they can now send money at their fingertips, whenever they want, through the WorldRemit app or website. It is ideal to have partnered with a like- minded brand as WorldRemit, that is also working towards a similar objective that benefits the end customer. The remittance industry is at a juncture where is it necessary for brands to collaborate for the sake of the industry at large. We are happy to be setting the right example and hope for other brands to follow suit.”





About ‘WorldRemit’


WorldRemit is changing the way people send money.


It’s easy – just open the app or visit the website – no more agents.


  • Transfers to most countries are instant – send money like an instant message.
  • More ways to receive (Mobile Money, bank transfer, cash pickup, and mobile airtime top-up).
  • Available in over 50 countries and 125+ destinations.
  • Backed by Accel Partners and TCV – investors in Facebook, Spotify, Netflix and Slack.


WorldRemit’s global headquarters are in London, UK with regional offices in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Singapore, the Philippines, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.



About ‘Xpress Money’


‘Xpress Money’ is a global money transfer brand with a thriving presence in more than 160 countries across all continents through 180,000 agent locations. ‘Xpress Money’ has come to be known as the most dependable international money transfer brand and provides its customers a simple, fast & safe way to transfer money through innovative technology, superior customer service and its extensive worldwide network. For more information, follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/XpressMoney, Twitter: @Xpress_Money or visit www.xpressmoney.com

Cognizant Expands its Footprint in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Cognizant Expands its Footprint in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


December 06, 2016 – Cognizant (NASDAQ: CTSH), a leading global provider of information technology, consulting and business process services, today announced the expansion of its operations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) with the opening of a new office in Riyadh.


Cognizant’s expanded presence in KSA will enhance its existing operations in the Middle East and further enable Cognizant’s clients to leverage the technical and business capabilities available in the region for building digital businesses, operations and systems.


Cognizant currently employs more than 200 professionals in KSA, delivering a broad range of services—across digital business, operations, and systems and technology—to more than 25 leading organisations in industry sectors such as financial services, insurance, energy, utilities, telecommunications, and retail.


“We congratulate Cognizant on the inauguration of its new office in Riyadh,” said Meletis Meletiou, Chief Financial Officer at Kudu Company, a leading restaurant chain in KSA. “In working with us on a key ERP programme, Cognizant has proven itself to be a reliable and highly professional strategic partner who combines deep business and technology capabilities and experience. We thank Cognizant for its hard work and collaborative approach to helping us further strengthen our market leadership through greater efficiency, reduced operational costs and superior performance.”


“We started operations in KSA in 2011 and have steadily grown our presence and investment in the country,” said Narayan Iyer, Vice President, Middle East and India, Cognizant. “Our expansion in KSA underscores our confidence in the country’s talent pool and its ability to help our clients drive not just operational efficiencies, but also digital transformation for the needs of tomorrow. We will continue to work closely with the academia in KSA and build talent across our full range of services by helping STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates become software professionals of global standards and work on helping clients navigate the shift to the digital era.”


In 2012, Cognizant launched its graduate recruitment programme in KSA to hire entry-level technical and management talent from premier institutions in the country and has been hiring graduates from institutions such as King Saud University, King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals, King Faisal University, King Khalid University, Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, and Alyammamah University.


As part of its commitment to building talent for the future, Cognizant provides technical and soft skills training to entry-level hires in line with global benchmarks and deploys them to technology and consulting projects upon the successful completion of the training. The objective of this




uniquely designed programme is to create a young, dynamic and local talent supply that can deliver value to the company’s clients in the region and elsewhere. Cognizant’s new office houses a state-of-the-art training facility for new and experienced hires.




About Cognizant:


Cognizant (NASDAQ: CTSH) is a leading provider of information technology, consulting, and business process services, dedicated to helping the world’s leading companies build stronger businesses. Headquartered in Teaneck, New Jersey (U.S.), Cognizant combines a passion for client satisfaction, technology innovation, deep industry and business process expertise, and a global, collaborative workforce that embodies the future of work. With over 100 development and delivery centers worldwide and approximately 255,800 employees as of September 30, 2016, Cognizant is a member of the NASDAQ-100, the S&P 500, the Forbes Global 2000, and the Fortune 500 and is ranked among the top performing and fastest growing companies in the world. Visit us online at www.cognizant.com or follow us on Twitter: Cognizant.