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S.Korea to Seek Sukuk Bill Passage in Feb - Official

Another push for sukuk in South Korea...

February 10, 2011
Seoul, South Korea

The South Korean government will again push forward a bill to introduce sukuk, or Islamic bonds, a senior finance ministry official said on Thursday, after lawmakers rejected the proposal in December.

"We will give one more try to get a special tax bill for Islamic bond issuance passed in parliament in February," the official told reporters, declining to be identified until an official announcement is made.


Citi to Expand Qatar Presence, See More Sukuk Issues

Despite the fact that Quatar has ordered SCF operations at foreign banks to stop, Citi seems determined to move forward with expansion in Quatar...

February 8, 2011
Doha, Qatar

Citigroup plans to beef up its operations in Qatar as the U.S. bank seeks to tap into the tiny Gulf Arab state's rapid economic growth and immense wealth, a top executive said.

Foreign investors have scrambled to set up shop in Qatar -- the best performing Gulf Arab stock market in 2010 with a 25 percent gain -- lured by the Gulf state's growth prospects.

"Qatar is uniquely positioned with the amount of liquidity, to tap opportunities," said Alberto Verme, Citi's chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).


Afghan Central Bank Sees Islamic Banking Law Enacted in 2011

February 6, 2011
Kabul, Afghanistan

Afghanistan's central bank expects an Islamic banking law to be enacted by September, drawing billions in deposits from citizens wary of the conventional banking system, a senior official said.

The central bank's sharia board will meet Sunday to finalize the law, said Muhammed Qaseem Rahimi, director general of the central bank's Financial Supervision Department. It will then go to the Justice Ministry and parliament for approval.

"Most of the people who can access banking services don't use them just because of the interest, which is not allowed in Islam," Rahimi told Reuters via email.

"The demand for Islamic bank services is very high in banked and unbanked populations of Afghanistan."

Of 17 banks in Afghanistan, six have Islamic banking windows. The central bank hopes to approve the creation of fully fledged Islamic banks after the law is passed, Rahimi added.


Saudis Spending to Drive Loans from Five-Year Low

Saudi Arabia is driving the demand for Islamic loans.

The Saudi Gazette
February 6, 2011
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia will lead a rebound in Islamic loans from a five-year low in 2011 as accelerating economic growth and development spending boost financing needs, Banque Saudi Fransi and Standard Chartered said.

Demand for Islamic loans and Sukuk will climb this year, with borrowers tapping the financial markets to fund expansion, said John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi.

A new report on said Saudi Arabia’s nominal GDP in 2011 is predicted to be $474.6 billion, with growth of 2.5 percent expected in 2011.

Average annual GDP growth of 3.2 percent is forecast between 2011 and 2015. With the population increasing from 26.5 million in 2011 to an estimated 28.6 million by 2015, GDP per capita is predicted to rise to $22,320 by the end of the forecast period.


Insuring Against the Risks of Sharia

Shariah Insurance for Shariah-driven violence?

Money Jihad
February 1, 2011
Algiers, Algeria

Has your business been damaged or your loved one injured by a protester? Worry no more, because civil unrest within the Islamic world has led to yet another insurance invention: riot insurance.

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