Category: Islamic Finance

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Smart Dubai Launches Guidelines on Ethical use of Artificial Intelligence

  • Smart Dubai outlines standards for AI systems to ensure they are fair, transparent and accountable
  • World’s first city-government endorsed Smart AI Ethics Self Assessment Tool launched to help assess level of ethics in AI systems
  • Initiative aims to accelerate Dubai’s goals of becoming an AI powered city of the future

Dubai’s quest to become the world’s smartest city has received a strong ethical grounding with the unveiling of guidelines for the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The new ‘Ethical AI Toolkit,’ which provides advice to individuals and organisations offering AI services, has been formulated by the Smart Dubai Office (Smart Dubai) – the government department that has a mandate to make Dubai the world’s happiest city through innovation.


Outlining the need for the new guidelines, Smart Dubai says that they will encourage organisations that deliver AI services to place a priority on fairness, transparency and accountability and that they will serve to elevate the city’s position as a thought leader in in the adoption of AI across government services and beyond.


“Our vision is for Dubai to excel in the use of technology to maximise human benefit and happiness, as well as to be a global technology standard-setter. Artificial Intelligence plays an integral role in all of this. And with the use of AI growing exponentially across the globe, the ethical dimension of this nascent but rapidly proliferating technology is an increasing topic of discussion on the international stage,” said Her Excellency Dr. Aisha bint Butti bin Bishr, Director General of the Smart Dubai Office.


“There is an understanding by governments, NGOs and the private sector that AI regulation is needed, but that the field is not yet mature enough to devise fixed rules to govern it. However, organisations still require guidance and regulators still need to begin to learn how to oversee this emerging technology, but without creating restrictions that could stifle innovation. Smart Dubai’s Ethical AI Toolkit aims to provide advice in this area for all those involved in the AI sector,” she added.


As part of the toolkit, Smart Dubai has also launched the world’s first city-government endorsed AI Ethics Self-Assessment Tool. The AI Ethics Self-Assessment Tool is built to enable AI developers and operators evaluate the ethical level of their AI system, if implemented using Smart Dubai’s AI Ethical Principles and Guidelines.


Smart Dubai’s Ethical AI Toolkit was created using a benchmarking exercise and a consultation approach. Government sector entities, such as the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, Dubai Electronic Security Centre, Dubai Health Authority, the Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and Dubai Land Department, were consulted during the initial feedback gathering, as were private sector companies including Microsoft, IBM, Google, Etisalat and PWC.


Smart Dubai is actively encouraging ongoing critiquing from across the AI community in relation to the guidelines. This feedback, combined with Smart Dubai’s research, aims to help iterate the Ethical AI Toolkit so that its framework and guidance keeps pace with technological advancements. The office is also establishing an Advisory Board, comprising leading AI and ethics experts from the private and public sectors, who will review the guidelines and help make continuous ongoing improvements to them.


Smart Dubai says that it wants to start discussions between different stakeholders in Dubai around AI ethics and for all components in the city’s technology ecosystem to work together to achieve a unified approach and reach common agreement on becoming more responsible on the use and development of AI systems. The office highlighted that it would like to see the Ethical AI Toolkit evolve into a universal, practical and applicable framework that informs ethical requirements for AI design and use and one that offers tangible suggestions to help stakeholders adhere to the ethics principle.


“By fusing data and innovation we’re preparing Dubai to become the AI city of the future. Artificial Intelligence will streamline day-to-day work life by providing fast and easy access to a wealth of data-driven information. Its consequences will be far-reaching and will impact every area of life, so creating guidelines for AI operatives is essential to provide an ethical underpinning to this evolution. Our aim is to offer unified guidance that is continuously improved in collaboration with our communities, with the eventual goal being to reach widespread agreement and adoption of commonly-agreed policies to inform the ethical use of AI, not just in Dubai but around the world,” said His Excellency Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director General, Smart Dubai and CEO, Smart Dubai Data.


Smart Dubai’s Ethical AI Toolkit addresses some of the key issues around establishing regulatory principles relating to AI. These include the rapid evolution of the AI landscape that is leading to a fragmented approach to ethics, with each company dealing with ethical issues in their own way. They also intend to clear the ambiguity around what constitutes ethics in AI, as it is thought that ambiguity could supress innovation through entities holding back on research because they are unsure of future government actions. The toolkit also aims to improve trust in AI systems, with confidence in them cemented by the public being able to see that companies are following the new advice that is published transparently online.

International Forum Gathers Powerhouses from the Global Islamic Finance Industry
FinanceIslamic Finance

International Forum Gathers Powerhouses from the Global Islamic Finance Industry

Held under the patronage of the Government of the Republic of the Sudan, the Central Bank of Sudan and the Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning – and in strategic partnership with the Bank of Khartoum – IFIF 2016 hosted 200 dignitaries, central bank representatives, Ministers, C-level bankers, thought leaders and experts who gathered at the Al Salam Rotana Hotel in Khartoum to deliberate on strategies to enable Islamic finance gain prominence and spur economic growth across Africa.

Delivering keynote addresses to a packed audience were Fadi Al Faqih (CEO of Bank of Khartoum), Musaed Mohammed Ahmed (Head of Sudan’s Banks Union), H.E. Abdelrahman Hassan Abdelrahman Hashim (Governor of the Central Bank of Sudan), H.E. Badr El-Din Mahmoud Abbas (Minister of Finance and National Economy of the Republic of the Sudan) and H.E. Bakri Hassan Salih (First Vice President of the Republic of the Sudan).

The conveners of IFIF, Middle East Global Advisors – a renowned intelligence platform serving the Middle East North Africa Southeast Asia (MENASEA) region for 22 years – gathered a powerful line-up of speakers including Dr. Anindya Ghose, Professor at NYU Stern School of Business, who was named Business Week’s “Top 40 Professors Under 40 Worldwide”.

Dr. Ghose will speak on the impact of social media on banking and shared that:

“Industries and markets are being transformed by a growing shared technology infrastructure. Indeed, Africa is emerging as an inspiring hub of innovation for social media in the banking sector, enabling unbanked individuals in Africa to access risk averse financing through Islamic banking.”

Dr. Ghose continued:

“The International Forum on Islamic Finance (IFIF) is an outstanding platform to help build awareness of Africa’s digital media proposition in the context of Islamic finance’s push for financial inclusion across the continent.”

Another key highlight of Day 1 of IFIF was the exclusive launch of the much-awaited Sudan Islamic Finance report. The report was produced by the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) and the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI), in collaboration with the Bank of Khartoum. The ground-breaking report provides substantive due diligence on the opportunities for Islamic financial and non-financial services in Sudan.

The final day of IFIF 2016 continues on the 10th of February. To find out more about IFIF 2016 visit 

New Shari’ah-Compliant Fund to Finance Contender for World's Tallest Tower
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New Shari’ah-Compliant Fund to Finance Contender for World’s Tallest Tower

King & Spalding and its affiliated office in Riyadh, as primary fund counsel, advised Alinma Investment Company and Jeddah Economic Company (JEC) on the creation of a Shari’ah-compliant SAR8.4bn (US$2.23bn) fund
that will finance the completion of Jeddah Tower, which will be the world’s tallest tower, at over a kilometer high. The tower will include a Four Seasons Hotel, residences of different sizes and office spaces.

JEC is the developer and owner of the Jeddah Tower, now built to the 27th floor, as well as the 5.3 million-square-meter Jeddah Economic City project located in Obhur, just north of Jeddah on the Red Sea Coast of Saudi Arabia.

The new fund, named Alinma Jeddah Economic City Real Estate Fund, is a Shari’ah-compliant fund operating in accordance with the Capital Market Authority (CMA) and relevant laws and regulations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with an objective to finance the completion of Jeddah Tower and the development of the first phase of Jeddah Economic City project.

Alinma Bank will provide financing to the fund of SAR 3.6 billion (US$1bn), which will be the largest real estate financing in Saudi Arabia in 2015. Alinma Investment will manage the fund and JEC will serve as the master developer of the project.

The King & Spalding team on the fund matter was led by partner Nabil Issa and included partner-elect James Stull and associate Sayf Shuqair.



Charles Russell Appoints Islamic Finance Expert
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Charles Russell Appoints Islamic Finance Expert

Law firm Charles Russell LLP has appointed Ashley Freeman to head up the Islamic Finance practice in the firm’s Financial Services team. Freeman, who joins the firm as Senior Counsel, has extensive global banking and financial services experience, encompassing strategic, transactional and regulatory matters in both Islamic and conventional industries.

Freeman has expert understanding of cross-border and comparative law issues; particularly the inter-play between common law, civil law and Shari’ah precepts. His arrival reinforces the breadth of Charles Russell’s financial services practice and the growing demand for Islamic finance expertise in the UK market.

Freeman’s expertise, developed through many years’ experience in-house at the Central Bank of Bahrain and in private practice with City of London firms, includes bank mergers, acquisitions, conversions, receiverships, restructurings and insolvencies. He has considerable transactional experience, including experience of asset-backed finance, project finance, acquisition finance, property finance, leasing finance and all Islamic financing techniques. Freeman also has excellent knowledge of equity and securities funding, securitisations, asset and fund management, insurance and takaful, financial trades, derivatives and payment systems.

Freeman has documented and directed the documenting of numerous multi-million dollar lending facilities and bond issues (including several sovereign issues) and other complex funding transactions. He will work closely with Jon Bond in the London office and Wesam Alshafei in the Bahrain office and will be instrumental in expanding the team’s capability.

Commenting on the appointment, Jon Bond, Head of the Financial Services sector at Charles Russell, said: “Ashley’s arrival is a testament to the firm’s focus and continued success in the Financial Services sector. Ashley brings significant experience in Islamic Finance, particularly in the UK and Middle East and this together with his broader banking experience will further enhance our offering to our clients. We are delighted to have him on board.’’

Dubai Islamic Bank partners with Emirates Group
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Dubai Islamic Bank partners with Emirates Group

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), the largest Islamic Bank in the UAE, has entered into an agreement for an innovative new service with the Emirates Group (Emirates). Through this service, DIB will receive and accept electronic salary certificates of Emirates employees. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Raju Buddhiraju, Chief of Consumer Banking, DIB and Hussain Shaikh, Vice President – HR Employee Services, the Emirates Group at a ceremony held recently.

The innovative electronic letter solution will significantly streamline the process of applying for personal banking products at DIB by Emirates employees. This environmentally-friendly initiative will resolve the need for DIB to conduct employer verification checks, reducing turnaround time and speeding up the application approval process.

Commenting on the initiative, Raju Buddhiraju, Chief of Consumer Banking, DIB said: “As one of the most innovative banks in the UAE, we have worked to deliver a leading suite of financial services that are designed to help our customers securely and efficiently meet their banking needs. This focus on diversifying our services is an essential component of our growth strategy and as a result, we are delighted to introduce this offering as part of our continually evolving electronic banking platform that will further enhance our ability to better serve our customers.”

The e-letter service will be available to all Emirates employees who apply for DIB’s personal, auto and home finance products.

Bank of Korea Gains IFSB Membership
FinanceIslamic Finance

Bank of Korea Gains IFSB Membership


The Council of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has today resolved to admit Bank of Korea into the IFSB membership as an Associate Member.

The 24th meeting of the IFSB Council, hosted by Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD), was held on 27 March 2014 at the Empire Hotel and Country Club in Brunei Darussalam. It was chaired by the Managing Director, AMBD, H.E. Dato Mohd Rosli Sabtu and attended by 10 central bank governors and heads of regulatory and supervisory authorities, as well as 12 senior representatives from among the Council and Full members of the IFSB, representing 17 countries. The meeting was also attended by the President of the Islamic Development Bank.

The 184 members of the IFSB comprise 59 supervisory and regulatory authorities from the banking, capital markets and Islamic insurance (Takāful) sectors in 45 jurisdictions, as well as eight international inter-governmental organisations, and 117 market players (financial institutions, professional firms and industry associations).

The full list of the IFSB members is available on the IFSB website The roles and responsibilities of the members (by category) are detailed in the IFSB Articles of Agreement that can be downloaded from the website.

The Meeting of the Council was followed by the 12th IFSB General Assembly and the 9th Islamic Financial
Stability Forum.