Students praise Islamic Economics Institute

Updated 25 September 2012

Students praise Islamic Economics Institute

A youth immersion program at King Abdulaziz University (KAU) concluded last week with a successful introduction to Islamic economics, finance and the Saudi banking system.
The Saudi-Spanish Center for Islamic Economics and Finance (SCIEF) organized the event to promote Islamic economics and finance for the students of Islamic economics at the University of Madrid.
Abul Raheem Al-Saati, a professor at the Islamic Economics Institute introduced the basics of Islamic economics and explained the Islamic worldview and its economic paradigms.
“In Islam, we require a balance of both material and spiritual needs. Money is a means and not a commodity and has to be combined with real assets and economic activity to grow,” he said. “You must remember: no gain without risk. The risk factor has to be associated with a financer.”
Ibrahim Aboulola gave an overview of where Islamic financial institutions stand today. “From one institution in 1975 to 700 today, Islamic economics has spread to over 90 countries with total assets of $ 1.1 trillion. The Islamic finance volume equals $ 276 billion and the Islamic investment market sits at $ 500 billion with average growth in deposits at Islamic banks equal to 15 percent,” he said.
Candice Liao from the IE University in Taiwan said, “The SCIEF youth immersion program gave me a unique exposure to humane consideration behind Islamic finance.”
Dr. Faisal Atbani, vice dean of the Islamic Economics Institute spoke about the basics of Takaful and general insurance concepts.
“I was impressed with the depth of insight KAU provided and the evolving pace of innovation. I had a very different picture of Saudi Arabia and found the people to be very friendly,” said Mortiz Heck from the IE University of Germany.
Fritjof Franz of the German IE University said he thought Islam was a very rigid religion and innovation in Islamic finance was not possible, but after visiting various banks, he was surprised to learn about innovative financial products available in compliance with shariah.
David Lillu from the IE University of Sweden, a lawyer and a new Muslim said, “After visiting financial institutions, he could see there is the difference between the theoreticians and practitioners of Islamic finance.”
Participants came from Germany, France, Brazil, Sweden, Lebanon, and Singapore to visit the Islamic Economics Institute and the Faculty of Economics and Administration at KAU.
As part of the program, the students visited IEI-KAU, Al Khabeer Capital, Bank Al Jazeera (BAJ), National Commercial Bank (NCB), Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI – IDB group), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (JCCI).


Traditional Saudi game jumps to the digital world

First prize winners of this year’s tournament came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW. (Photo/Social media)
Updated 25 min 43 sec ago

Traditional Saudi game jumps to the digital world

  • First prize winners of this year’s tournament, Fahad Al-Shibani and Saud Al-Shibani, came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW

RIYADH: Baloot, a card game similar to bridge, has developed from a traditional game — usually played at family gatherings — to an online game for your mobile phone.
The Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports launched in Riyadh the third baloot tournament, which has attracted more than 18,000 participants including 40 female teams. The total prize money is SR2 million ($533,234).
The third baloot tournament showed an unprecedented number of players this year, bolstered by the participation of female players.
First prize winners of this year’s tournament, Fahad Al-Shibani and Saud Al-Shibani, came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW. Second prize winners received cash prizes of SR500,000 and third place players won SR100,000.
The electronic version is now more popular among Saudis than the original, which requires at least four players.
“The main feature that these baloot apps provide is that I can play the game anytime and anywhere, I don’t need to wait until I find three more people to complete the team,” said Saad Al-Amri, an undergrad student from Abha. “I also don’t lose control as I sometimes do when I play it with my relatives,” he added.
However, Al-Amri admits that playing baloot online made him more addicted to the game, saying that some days he spends 3 hours playing.
Baloot apps are not new and the market continues to grow. Apple’s App Store boasts over 30 Baloot apps. In Android’s Google Play store, the number of apps is even higher, ranging from platforms for playing the game, to apps that teaches the rules, to calculators that help users track their scores in the traditional version.
On top of the list of apps are two famous versions called “Kammelna” and “Baloot VIP,” with both reaching over 1 million downloads.
There are other apps that are less popular but also have strong downloads figures. “Tarbeeat Baloot” and “iBaloot” have just over half a million and 100,000 downloads respectively.
According to the website of “Kammelna,” a Saudi app, they started working on it in 2008, and currently have more than 1 million subscribers, with an updated ranking list for the best 100 players published daily.
Baloot apps can charge paid subscriptions, ranging from monthly, quarterly, semiannually or annually. Some apps sell points to customers who can replace them with special features in the game.
Subscriptions start from around SR30 per month, giving users additional features such as access to a special playing room and the ability to start private conversations with other players. Some apps have unique tournaments to encourage users to compete with each other and win points that they can use in future games.