Rating agency, Waqf institute sign cooperation

(12/7/2017 9:06:00 PM)

The Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) and the International Institute of Islamic Waqf (IIIW) have announced their signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) for the provision of rating services, capacity building and the enhancement of transparency and standardisation across the Waqf sector in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries.

Cooperation between the organisations will include joint efforts in strengthening human capital across charitable Waqf organisations and foundations globally through seminars, conferences, training programmes and workshops.

"This is an important collaboration for IIRA and represents the extension of the fiduciary ratings services we already provide to Islamic financial institutions to the Awqaf sector. It will be a critical step forward in efforts to establish greater accountability in the management of awqaf assets and serve as a major driving force in integrating Waqf organisations into Islamic financial markets thereby mobilizing a massive and largely idle pool of Islamic capital, which is estimated to be anywhere between $100 billion to $1 trillion," said Faheem Ahmad, President- Strategic Planning and Global Relationships at IIRA.

Anas Al Dowayan, CEO of IIIW, added, "Given the massive size of the Waqf industry, today we need to take decisive measures and engage in strategic partnerships for a real paradigm shift in order to maximise the vast potential of Waqf institutions. Our aim, to jointly establish an Awqaf rating, will help financial, regulatory and international organisations better understand the Waqf industry. It will also help ensure that boards of trustees are better prepared to examine, benchmark and improve their Waqf institutions and their management through a clear rating scheme. From this cooperation, we expect that we can help to unlock the great untapped value that exists within distressed Awqaf assets by helping to put in place well-structured Sharia-compliant financial products that help Waqf beneficiaries and the Islamic finance markets."

We are delighted to announce this MOC, which is built on the foundations of resource sharing, leveraging of synergies, strategic coordination and mutual sharing of benefits for the advancement of the Islamic finance industry."

Commenting, Sabeen Saleem, CEO of IIRA, said, "As a rating agency dedicated to Islamic finance and with a clear focus on governance practices as a foundation of third party assessment, Waqf ratings are a natural next step for IIRA. Waqf assets represent tremendous reserves which can be unlocked for further development and inclusion in mainstream financial markets. IIRA plans to act as a catalyst to this development with its assessments in this sector."

The MoC was signed at a ceremony held in the Kingdom of Bahrain, a leading Islamic financial centre, in the presence of senior representatives of IIRA and IIIW and other industry leaders.