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Waqf industry on the surge

MANAMA: Sharia-compliant philanthropy is on the rise with the Waqf sector (Islamic endowment) estimated at around $105 billion globally, according to various researches conducted by Ernst & Young.

"The Sharia-compliant endowment sector provides a unique impetus for the growth of Islamic finance including the nascent asset management industry," said Ernst & Young director and head of Islamic financial services Ashar Nazim.

"While Waqf has always been an integral part of Islamic countries' economic system, it is only now that a more formal structure is evolving for professional investment management of this pool of money, with an emphasis on making a sustainable impact.

"More investment firms are eyeing this opportunity, adding a new dimension to the Islamic asset management industry."

A significant majority of the Waqf assets are in the form of real estate, and could be as high as 70 to 80 per cent of the total sector assets.

"The remaining money is deployed in Sharia-compliant money markets mostly with regional financial institutions. Between Awqaf institutions (organisations that manage Waqf assets) and other entities, the cash Waqf alone is estimated at $35bn," he said.

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