UAE banks chief calls for transparency in Muslim giving

Emirati banking head Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair. (Supplied)
Updated 10 September 2018
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UAE banks chief calls for transparency in Muslim giving

  • Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair: The Muslim world is very generous but the real challenge is what we donate and how do we do it
  • It is estimated that the global Muslim population donated about $200 billion to charitable causes in 2017

LONDON: Muslim philanthropists need to set up legally recognized institutions, improve their transparency and start acting like listed businesses if they are to improve their international reputation, said Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair, Emirati banking head and chair of the Abdulla Al-Ghurair Foundation for Education Fund.
Speaking at the Global Donors Forum, held in London on Monday, he said that the sector “has not progressed as much as we should have” and called for an end to donations made to informally established Muslim charities.
“The Muslim world is very generous but the real challenge is what we donate and how do we do it. So that contribution can have more meaningful impact. That is why I am calling for a new era of Muslim giving,” he told the audience gathered at the British Museum on Monday.
Charitable giving is an essential pillar in the Islamic faith and it is estimated that the global Muslim population donated about $200 billion to charitable causes in 2017.
The image of Muslim philanthropy has, however, has been damaged by headlines in recent years alleging links between more dubious charities and extremist factions embroiled in conflicts around the world.
Even well-intended charitable donations may not actually have the impact on society the donor may have intended, Al-Ghurair said. He noted how donors continue to give to new buildings, mosques or universities “without having the intended impact on people’s lives.”
Al-Ghurair used his speech to outline key principles that could help bring about a “new era” for philanthropic efforts from the global Muslim world.
Earlier this year Al-Ghurair set up the $27 million Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund, a program targeting refugee children in Jodan and Lebanon currently residing in the UAE. The initiative will run for three years and it is aiming to support 6,000 children and young people this year.
“At the moment we don’t have any institutionalized foundations in the Muslim world and that makes it difficult for us to build a proper community that can exchange ideas,” he said, calling for charities to be legally recognized.
“All donors should be able to track their donation very simply and clearly, just like we track our courier shipment,” he said, noting how this would boost confidence in charitable funds and encourage governments to work with them.
Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Global Donors Forum, he said: “We have to be like a publicly listed company. Accountability is there, we set targets. Whatever we do in a listed company, all that should come with a philanthropic organization — because we are under the microscope.
“Some people feel relieved ­— my soul is clear — I have given my $1 million donation. We don’t want that — we want you to follow through and work for impact,” he told Arab News.


Chinese president Xi urges financial risk prevention while seeking stable growth

Updated 23 February 2019
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Chinese president Xi urges financial risk prevention while seeking stable growth

  • China’s economy is growing at its slowest pace in almost 30 years
  • Preventing and resolving financial risks, especially systemic financial risks, is a fundamental task

BEIJING: China should seek stable development of its economy while not forgetting to fend off risks to its financial system, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday.
China’s economy is growing at its slowest pace in almost 30 years, spurring policymakers to bolster growth by easing credit conditions and cutting taxes.
“It is necessary to focus on preventing risks on the basis of steady growth, while strengthening the countercyclical adjustment of fiscal policy and monetary policy and ensuring that the economy operates in a reasonable range,” Xi said.
Preventing and resolving financial risks, especially systemic financial risks, is a fundamental task, the agency cited Xi as telling a study session for senior Communist Party officials on Friday.
On Wednesday, Premier Li Keqiang reiterated that China would not resort to “flood-like” stimulus such as it unleashed in past downturns.
But after a spate of weak data, investors are asking if Beijing needs to speed or boost support to reduce the risk of a sharper slowdown.
Until now, China has refrained from cutting benchmark interest rates to spur the slowing economy, which would ease financing costs but risk adding to a mountain of debt.
To free up more funds for lending to small and private businesses, the central bank has cut the reserves that banks need to set aside five times in the past year.
Last month, Chinese banks made the most new loans on record, a total of 3.23 trillion yuan ($481 billion). A central bank official said previously that no credit floodgate had been opened, and the lending jump showed recent easing steps were working.
China’s financial sector must serve the real economy, Xi said, but stable growth and risk prevention must be balanced.