ABU DHABI // Filipino Muslims preparing to celebrate Eid Al Fitr have been asked to give generously to those less fortunate back home.
“Every year we finance the Eid celebrations of our less-privileged Muslim brothers and sisters in the Philippines,” said Dr Nasser Raciles, the administrator of the New Muslim Centre in Abu Dhabi.
“Prophet Mohammed has commanded that we break our fast and celebrate Eid at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, but many families do not have the means to do so.”
Of the nearly 3,000 Muslim converts at the centre, 2,307 are Filipino. Seventy-three have embraced Islam since the start of Ramadan, with the help of the centre.
The facility opened in June 2004 under the patronage of the late Ali bin Ghanem bin Hamoodah. The mosque next to the centre was named in his honour.
Zakat Al Fitr is an obligatory deed required of all Muslims who have the food or provisions to sustain themselves, and those who they are obligated to support.
“It is equivalent to one full meal or the cash equivalent to the cost of one full meal,” Dr Raciles said. “At a meeting it has been decided that one full meal costs Dh25. Those who can afford to give more are encouraged to give more.”
Zakat Al Fitr is given directly to the needy before Eid prayers. Arrangements for payment should be made ahead of time so that recipients receive the funds in time to make use of them at Eid.
“Many of our Muslim brothers and sisters had been affected by Typhoon Glenda [Rammasun] which damaged their crops and livestock,” Dr Raciles said. “We need to ensure they receive the money ahead of the first day of Eid Al Fitr.”
Funds from Abu Dhabi will be used to buy 100 goats, five cows, rice, sugar and other ingredients for the Eid feast for Muslims in Manila and in several provinces in the Philippines.
One of those sending zakat is Rosie Cabalbag, who converted to Islam from Christianity in 2011. The 36-year-old housemaid earns Dh1,100 a month and gave Dh25 as Zakat Al Fitr.
“I feel good about being able to help our compatriots back home,” said Ms Cabalbag, who chose Sajah as her Muslim name.
She will be among the 200 Filipino Muslims who are expected to visit the Ghanem bin Hamoodah mosque, near the New Medical Centre on Electra Street, for early-morning prayers. They will later have an elaborate feast featuring Filipino delicacies.
For Jocelyn Domingo, 42, the arrival of Eid is cause for great joy and a chance to bond with family and friends. She converted to Islam from Christianity in 2005. Her Muslim name is Janah.
“After a month of fasting, Eid Al Fitr is a day of thanksgiving and jubilation,” she said. “At this centre, Filipinos from different parts of the country are united by our faith. Eid is also an occasion of generosity as we give Zakat Al Fitr to the needy.”
Roberto Alvarez, 42, an office assistant who is now known as Omar, became a Muslim in 2006.
“Eid is the culmination of the fasting month but it is also important to continue the good deeds practiced during Ramadan,” he said. “I look forward to the early-morning prayers and the prospect of celebrating it with my Muslim brothers and sisters.”
A newly released report “Global Sukuk Report 1H2014”, by Kuwait Finance House Research Limited (KFHR), analyses the developments and key drivers of the sukuk market in the first half of this year. To date, the volume of sukuk issuances has increased significantly, supported by traditional jurisdictions and a resurgence of issuances from the corporate sector. In addition, 1H14 saw the launch of several landmark sukuks, which augurs well for the development of a diverse global sukuk market.
New issuances in global primary sukuk market recorded strong growth in 1H14, expanding by 8.2% to reach $66.2bln (1H13: $61.2bln). After a moderate 1Q14, issuances surged towards the end of 2Q14, just prior to the Ramadhan period. During 2Q14, a total of $35.1bln of new sukuks were issued (1Q14: $31.1bln; 2Q13: 26.7bln), which is the third highest quarterly figure on record since the 2Q12. Apart from the traditional Islamic finance hubs of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Malaysia, the surge in sukuk volumes were also driven by noteworthy sukuk deals in other domiciles including Turkey, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. Among the most prolific issuance in 2Q14 is the debut GBP200mln sovereign sukuk issuance by the United Kingdom, making it the world’s first non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) jurisdiction to issue a sovereign sukuk.
Overall, sukuk issuances were geographically-diverse, with obligors based in a total of 11 jurisdictions tapping the primary market in 2Q14 (1Q14: 13 jurisdictions). Malaysia continued to account for the largest market share, accounting for 63% or $41.7bln of the total global new sukuk issuances in 1H14. A rebound in sukuk issuances during 2Q14 has enabled the GCC primary market to now account for an increased 26.7% market share or $17.7bln of the total global new sukuk issuances in 1H14 (1H13: 23% or $14.1bln).
Amidst these high volumes, the sukuk market was tapped by an increasingly diverse range of issuers, with a total of 244 sukuk tranches in 1H14. In terms of issuer type, sovereign issuers continued to lead the market in 2Q14 with an issuance volume of $20.6bln (1Q14: $21.37bln). Nevertheless, improved performance was recorded in the corporate sukuk sector which accounted for a sizeable 27.1% ($9.5bln) share of the primary market in 2Q14, compared to 18.4% ($5.7bln) in the previous quarter. As a result, corporate sukuk issuances recorded their second highest quarterly performance in 2Q14, in the last two years since 1Q12.
By sector, the government issuers continue to account for the majority of sukuk issuances, although its share has relatively declined in 1H14, accounting for a 58% share compared to the above 60% shares annually in the last few years (2013: 62%; 2012: 61.8%). Excluding the sovereign and related entities, corporate issuances were mainly from the financial services, real estate and power and utilities sectors. Issuances by the financial services sector has expanded significantly, with a 21.4% contribution in 1H14 (2013: 10%; 2012: 11.4%), underpinned by Islamic banks’ need to raise capitalisation funds in order to comply with the Basel III standards. During the 2Q14, Malaysia’s largest takaful company (in terms of contributions) issued the world’s first takaful sukuk worth RM300mln. The issuance was a unique offering, as typically insurance companies and takaful operators are investors in bonds and sukuk market instruments, while in this case a takaful company acted as an issuer. In addition, Malaysia’s AAA-rated entity KLCC REIT, issued a rare real estate and investment trust (REIT) sukuk raising MYR1.55bln. Furthermore, at least six Basel III compliant sukuk instruments were issued by Malaysian Islamic banks collectively raising MYR3.25bln.
In the secondary market, global sukuk outstanding expanded by 5% q-o-q to reach $286.41bln as at 1H14 (1Q14: $272.96bln and a 1.3% growth q-o-q). This represents a 6.3% growth in outstanding volume in 1H14 (end-2013: $269.4bln outstanding) and a 16.8% growth y-o-y since 1H13 (1Q14: 15.96% growth y-o-y). The three leading domiciles are Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Of these, Malaysia remains as the sole secondary market with sukuk outstanding volume over $100bln. As of 1H14, Malaysian sukuk outstanding amounted to almost $164bln, a 4% increase compared to the $158.3bln outstanding as at end-2013. Saudi Arabia’s sukuk outstanding volume amounts to $47.8bln (2013: $38.6bln), a notable 24% growth in volume in 1H14. Elsewhere, sukuk outstanding in the UAE had increased by 15% since end-2013 and its outstanding amounts to $25.7bln in 1H14 (2013: $22.3bln). Overall, the GCC market experienced a 9% increase in outstanding value since end-2013, totalling $92.9bln in 1H14 (2013: $85.3bln).
In terms of returns on sukuk papers, secondary market yields were partly driven by expectations of interest rates and quantitative easing in the advanced economies. Yields on sukuk instruments had generally eased across the main sukuk markets (GCC, Malaysia, Turkey) in the first two months of 2Q14 before experiencing upward volatile movements in June, ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee Meeting (FOMC) on the 17th and 18th of June. A slew of positive US economic data released ahead of the FOMC meeting led many market participants to believe that the Federal Reserve is likely to be more confident in adopting a hawkish tone during its June meeting.
However, following assurances by the US Federal Reserve that the US interest rates is likely to remain unchanged for a considerable time after the quantitative easing programme ends this year, the markets calmed and yields generally eased. Overall since end-2013, sukuk yields have eased across the main markets. This is a positive development as it points to a return in investor confidence in the markets, following the emerging market funds outflow crisis which had sent yields spiralling on fixed income instruments in these countries.
Overall, the robust expansion in the primary market during 2Q14 has supported expectations that the annual new issuance volume for 2014 is on track to overtake last year’s volume of $119.7bln. The outlook for the global sukuk market remains positive as the number of jurisdictions, multilateral bodies as well as categories/sectors of issuers tapping the Islamic debt market continues expanding. In the second half of 2014, debut sovereign issuances are expected from Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Senegal and the Emirate of Sharjah. Future debut sovereign issuers based on announced plans include Tunisia, South Africa, Oman, Jordan, Egypt and Mauritania. The geographical expansion was augmented by sector-based expansions, lending further credence to a healthy and vibrant global sukuk market.
In 1H14, Malaysia’s Etiqa Takaful issued the world’s first takaful sukuk while the Saudi fashion retailer, Fawaz Alhokair Group, also issued its maiden sukuk. Similarly, sukuks are also increasingly being utilised by the financial sector as tools for satisfying regulatory requirements — for example by issuing Basel III compliant AT1 and Tier 2 sukuk instruments. This year has also witnessed substantial efforts being directed by global multilateral entities, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, towards enabling sukuk to serve as viable tools for meeting diverse global liquidity needs. Going forward, it is expected that 2014 will be another record-breaking year for primary market issuances.
On 9 July 2014, the Luxembourg Parliament has adopted the bill of law 6631 on the sale and buy back of real estate assets compulsory for the issuance of a sovereign Sukuk in an amount of Euro 200 million.
To this end, a Luxembourg SPV will be created and will be fully owned by the Luxembourg State. Such SPV will purchase three main buildings located in Luxembourg and will benefit from a guarantee from the Luxembourg State.
The SPV will issue Sukuk and lease back to the Luxembourg government the underlying real estate assets for a duration of 5 years corresponding to the duration of the Sukuk. The rental income to be received by the SPV, equivalent to the periodic amount to be paid to the Sukuk holders, will be used for such purpose in compliance with Sharia.
The enactment of such law by the Luxembourg legislator demonstrates a strong and clear political will to diversify and develop alternative markets such as Islamic Finance within the financial services industry in the Grand-Duchy.
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An increasing number of Kuwaiti lenders are moving away from traditional banking in a bid to tap into a booming market for Sharia-compliant financial products in the region -- a move that could soon see Islamic financing overtake conventional banking in the Gulf state.
Commercial Bank of Kuwait (CBK) is the latest to unveil plans to turn into a fully-fledged Islamic institution. CBK announced in July that it had received regulatory approval to issue up to KD120m ($425.16m) in bonds in preparation for the transition, which received the approval of 85% of its shareholders in April. The move by CBK, to be completed by the end of 2014, will help Kuwait cement its position as a provider of Sharia-compliant products and services. There are already five other Kuwaiti Islamic banks; Kuwait Finance House ( KFH ), Boubyan Bank, Al Ahli United Bank, Kuwait International Bank, and Warba Bank, which was established in 2010. This compares with four conventional banks.Kuwait's Islamic banking assets grew by 8.7% during the first nine months of 2013, reaching KD22.5bn ($79.7bn), while Islamic financing grew by 11.2% to hit KD13.5bn ($47.8bn) during the same period, reported in The Banker in April. This exceeded the growth rates in the overall banking sector, which saw a 7.1% growth in assets and a 7.5% growth in loans between January and September.
This move toward Islamic banking follows a broader regional and indeed global trend. Islamic finance industry's assets worldwide are estimated to have grown 18.6% annually to reach $1.8trn at the end of 2013, according to KFH Research, which projects that total Islamic financial assets will reach $2.1trn globally by 2015. The Sharia compliant sector has expanded rapidly within Southeast Asia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), whose assets accounts for more than a third of the worldwide total according to KFH . Other banks in this region are also looking to make the switch to Islamic banking. Malaysia's Agro Bank plans to convert to Islamic banking by 2015 while the country's SME Bank is planning a full conversion by 2018 according to Reuters. In Pakistan, Faysal Bank and Summit Bank are mulling similar plans. LargestIn Kuwait, the sector's history goes back to 1977 with the establishment of KFH Group, Kuwait's largest Islamic bank. For the last three years to end-2013, KFH total assets grew at a compounded annual growth (CAGR) rate of 8.8% to reach KD16.1bn ($57.2bn).CBK, the state's fifth-largest lender by assets, is following in the footsteps of both Boubyan Bank and Ahli United Bank (AUB) Kuwait in converting from a conventional lender, drawn by the sector's rapidly rising popularity and promising outlook for growth, which continues to outpace that of conventional lenders. According to Reuters, CBK's conversion will increase Islamic banks' market share in Kuwait above an estimated 40%. AUB Kuwait, (formerly known as the Bank of Kuwait and the Middle East) posted a record $579.4m in net profit in 2013, a 72.6% increase over 2012's $335.7m, which Deputy CEO Ahmed Zulficar attributed to the switch to Islamic Banking: "Since the bank's conversion to Islamic banking, our performance has improved". (Zawya / 24 July 2014) --- Alfalah Consulting - Kuala Lumpur: www.alfalahconsulting.com Consultant-Speaker-Motivator: www.ahmad-sanusi-husain.com Islamic Investment Malaysia: www.islamic-invest-malaysia.com