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Thursday, 25 September 2014

‘Takaful insurance not for Muslims alone’

The fast growing Islamic insurance package, Takaful, is not exclusively meant for Muslims, as it has been designed to cater for the needs of non-Muslims as well. 
This clarification was made by the founder of Takaful Insurance of Africa, Mr Hassan Bashir, who disclosed that the Kenya-based company’s products could bring fruitful possibilities to the doorsteps of non-Muslims as well as, not just for people of the Muslim faith.
Bashir made this known at a recent chat with the media where he also revealed that non-Muslims currently constituted about 15 per cent of the company’s customer base, adding that the figure was expected to increase as time passed.
“Our products are not exclusively for people of the Muslim faith. We can serve anyone, and we do. Initially, people thought it was only for Muslims, but now around 15% of our client base is non-Muslim and we are growing,” he stated.
Meanwhile, when giving an insight into what brought about the idea of Takaful insurance in the East African nation, and which has since spread to other countries including Nigeria, Bashir said the dream of Takaful was born because of the need to give insurance service to all categories of people.
“There was a need for the service. I have been involved in the insurance industry since 1997, and it was something that I had become aware of. For my MBA
I researched customer behaviour across the Kenyan insurance industry, and what came out was evidence of dissatisfaction and a need for honesty and ethics in the insurance products and services. I came across a lot of people who did not have insurance, or if they did they only had the basic statutory amount.
“They said that they did not feel comfortable with some aspects of insurance – that it did not accommodate their religious beliefs – and some people said they felt conventional insurance was a bit like gambling.
Takaful is a Sharia-based micro insurance package which primarily seeks to serve low-class people, especially those in the grassroots. They will be expected to enjoy insurance with small amounts of money. 
By virtue of the Takaful insurance contract, insurers and reinsurers are bound to share their underwriting profit and/or loss with the subscriber (the insured).  When a profit is made, a dividend is distributed among the policyholders. But when loss is reported, insurers and reinsurers are held to grant the policyholders, an interest free loan, and which they will recover from policyholders when underwriting returns back to profitability and the policyholder account is back in green.
(Nigerian Tribune / 22 September 2014)
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FIFA Rattles Qatari Sukuk Mired in Worst Month This Year

Prospects for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are unsettling bond investors already rattled by political turmoil between the country and its neighbors, with its sukuk on course for its worst month in more than a year.
The yield on Qatar’s Islamic notes due January 2018 rose 19 basis points in September, on course for the biggest monthly increase since August 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The average yield for Middle East Shariah-compliant securities jumped 12 basis points in the period, JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes show.
FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger told Germany’s Bild this week that Qatar probably won’t host the world’s biggest soccer event in 2022 because of the summer heat. While Qatar dismissed his comments, it’s creating more market turbulence for the country, which has been at odds with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood in the region.
“The political differences with its neighbors combined with uncertainty over the World Cup is affecting sentiment,” Thomas Christie, head of fixed income at Prometheus Capital Finance Ltd., said by phone from Dubai yesterday. “The bond will drop further if its neighbors continue to isolate Qatar and this FIFA situation isn’t resolved.”

Personal Remarks

Delia Fischer, a spokeswoman for Zurich-based FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, said “these were personal remarks made in his personal capacity and not as a FIFA representative.” A panel will meet next month and in February to discuss the scheduling of the event, not moving it to another country, she said.
Qatar in 2010 won the right to host the tournament during its summer and after the end of most major European leagues. The world’s biggest liquefied natural gas producer reiterated a promise to use technology to cool stadiums in a statement yesterday, as temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). In the run-up to the event, Qatar is spending $200 billion on roads, stadiums, a rail network and a new city.
“There’s a lot riding on this,” Montasser Khelifi, a senior manager for global markets at Quantum Investment Bank Ltd. in Dubai, said by phone yesterday. “The potential for economic growth outside of the hydrocarbon industry is linked to the World Cup.”

Negative News

Qatar’s World Cup woes coincide with the nation being isolated for its foreign policies toward political Islamists. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have accused Qatar of threatening the region’s stability because of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Together with Bahrain they withdrew their ambassadors in March.
A Qatari diplomat denied Sept. 13 comments on Twitter by an official from the Egyptian section of the Brotherhood that Qatar had asked members of the Islamist group to leave the country. The diplomat said they were leaving on their own accord.
“It’s mostly negative news flow that’s affecting the sukuk,” Khelifi said. “The country’s fundamentals are still very strong.”
While Qatar’s economic growth will probably slow to 6 percent this year, according to the median estimate of 11 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, its higher than the 4.4 percent estimated for Saudi Arabia and 4.45 percent for the U.A.E., the Arab world’s two biggest economies. The nation’s benchmark stock index climbed to a record on Sept. 18.
“There’s no question that Qatar will repay the debt,” Christie said. “What it’s dealing with is a political issue and a series of public relations problems. These need to be resolved.
(Bloomberg / 24 September 2014)
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