DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Nov 12: Electronic board showing the status of different companies at Dubai Financial Market in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National)
 *** Local Caption ***  PS04- DFM.jpgPS04- DFM.jpg
Tough trading: Electronic board shows the status of different companies at Dubai Financial Market.

Islamic finance media heralds good times



While both the journalism and the financial industries stumble through some of their darkest days in recent history, one sector of financial journalism is enjoying rapid growth: Islamic finance news. In the next two months, three Arabic-language financial news portals with regional and global aspirations will launch in the UAE, all of them catering to varying degrees to the growing interest in Shariah-complaint financial instruments.

The latest to join the trend is Alaswaq Alarabiya, the online business and finance presence of MBC's Al Arabiya news channel, which this week announced plans to launch www.myislamicfinance.com, an e-portal dedicated to Islamic finance products and services. "Islamic finance has always been a topic of interest for a lot of our audience," said Ammar Bakkar, the director of new media at MBC. "We believe it is an important sector, and there is a large number of people, especially in a country like Saudi Arabia, where they are interested in learning about Islamic finance services."

Although the portal will be open to all kinds of Islamic finance, it will focus especially on the stricter version practised in Saudi Arabia, where the Alaswaq Alarabiya website has its biggest audience. "We are more focused on being close to the school of thought that is popular in the GCC region," he said. The site was being launched in partnership with Mawarid Finance, the Dubai-based private finance company specialising in Shariah-compliant financial services, which was both funding the project and supporting it through the company's relationships with Islamic organisations, he said.

Meanwhile, one of Al Arabiya's main competitors in business news, CNBC Arabiya, is putting the finishing touches on a "radically redesigned" version of its own Arabic-language financial news portal, which is set to launch this year, according to Steven Hall, the company's chief executive. As with CNBC Arabiya's television channel, which recently relaunched its Shariah-compliant finance show, the new portal would have extensive coverage of Islamic finance, he said.

"We do a fair bit with Islamic banking," Mr Hall said. "I think we are uniquely poised to do it, with the financial background the cultural background that we have." Shortly thereafter, the financial news portal of I-Media, the Abu Dhabi-based company behind the soon-to-be-launched Arabic newspaper Alroya Altiqtissadiya, will also go live, according to Qusai Aljamous, the executive editor-in-chief. The Arabic and English-language portal would also have extensive coverage of Islamic financial instruments, he said.

Some of the industry's recent rapid growth is a result of the global financial crisis, which has badly damaged the traditional financial institutions that had previously supported financial journalism. "Particularly since the meltdown in the western capitalist system, there has been increasingly large focus on the virtues of Islamic finance," said Max Linnington, the regional head of Middle East and South Asia for Bloomberg, which moved to Dubai in October to expand the company's sales force and its Islamic finance information gathering operation.

"We expect to increase our news coverage of Islamic finance market," he said. To that end, last week the company appointed Riad Hamade as its first managing editor of Middle East and Africa, based in Dubai. It has also moved its Islamic finance data collection from Europe and Asia to Dubai and also appointed the company's first Middle East product manager. The company already offers many Islamic finance services, ranging from profiles of Islamic scholars to issuance league tables for sukuk, and it plans to do a formal launch of its Islamic finance service in the second half of next year.

But much of the growth had been under way before the credit crunch bit. Andrew Morgan, the managing director and publisher of the Red Money Group, the Malaysia-based publishing company that publishes Islamic Finance News, said he has seen "phenomenal growth" in the industry since his company launched in 2004. "New players are entering the market every day," he said. "When we launched there were only a few markets that were worth covering, outside of Malaysia, Brunei and the GCC. Since then, in Asia, we've seen Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea. China are very interested in GCC money. We are seeing new players from Africa come in. We are seeing business from all corners of the world." The growth of Islamic finance has attracted many larger news organisations to the market, including Euromoney, which runs the Islamic Finance Information Service (IFIS) as one of the products of its emerging markets division. Since it launched in 2003, IFIS has expanded from three to about 75 countries and rolled out an array of new services, from regulatory resources to a listing of Islamic finance lawyers, according to Rakiya Sanusi, the director of the IFIS. She said the services has taken a few hits from the economic downturn, but has also been buoyed by people's increasing curiosity about Shariah-compliant products. "There's been an increase in internet [traffic] in Islamic finance, so we don't expect to be affected to badly," she said. More recently, Mr Morgan said seen glossy magazines on Islamic finance "coming thick and fast" from the GCC. "Everybody has jumped on the bandwagon," he said. khagey@thenational.ae

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Industry: Sustainability & Environment
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1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

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2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

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2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

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Indoor Cricket World Cup - Sep 16-20, Insportz, Dubai

16 Indoor cricket matches are 16 overs per side

8 There are eight players per team

9 There have been nine Indoor Cricket World Cups for men. Australia have won every one.

5 Five runs are deducted from the score when a wickets falls

4 Batsmen bat in pairs, facing four overs per partnership

Scoring In indoor cricket, runs are scored by way of both physical and bonus runs. Physical runs are scored by both batsmen completing a run from one crease to the other. Bonus runs are scored when the ball hits a net in different zones, but only when at least one physical run is score.

Zones

A Front net, behind the striker and wicketkeeper: 0 runs

B Side nets, between the striker and halfway down the pitch: 1 run

C Side nets between halfway and the bowlers end: 2 runs

D Back net: 4 runs on the bounce, 6 runs on the full

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