Community News (V13-I25)

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

United Stationers Appoints Khan as Next CFO

DEERFIELD, IL–United Stationers Inc. said Tuesday that Fareed Khan will become its chief financial officer on July 18.

The office and business products distributor said its board elected Khan, 45, to replace Victoria Reich. Reich said in November that she planned to leave the company by the end of 2011. She cited personal reasons for her departure.

Khan has worked at USG Corp., a producer of building materials, for the last 12 years, and was most recently in charge of its finance and strategy.

Other senior level management positions held by Mr. Khan at USG included a variety of strategy, business development, marketing, supply chain management, and general management roles. Before joining USG in 1999, Mr. Khan was a consultant with McKinsey & Company, where he served global clients on a variety of projects including acquisition analysis, supply chain optimization, and organization redesign.

Mr. Khan received his bachelor of science degree in engineering from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario and earned a MBA from the University of Chicago.

Abdullah-Muhammad wins state gold in Murfreesboro

MURFEESBORO,TN–Cleveland High freshman Qetuwrah Abdullah-Muhammad soared to a state title in the girls long jump competition Thursday at the Middle Tennessee State University track.
Flying a distance of 18-feet, 9-inches on her third attempt, the three-sport Lady Raider standout left the competition in the dust by at least 8 1/2 inches.

Abdullah-Muhammad went past the 18-foot mark five times in her half dozen passes. After a 17-06.25 on her first pass, the 5-foot-10 ninth-grader leapt 18-01.75, 18-09, 18-02.25, 18-00.75 and 18-06.

Dr. Saleem Bajwa to receive rights award

BOSTON, MA–The National Conference for Community and Justice of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, Inc., founded in 1927 as the National Conference of Christians and Jews, will present its annual Human Relations Award  to Dr. Saleem Bajwa, president of the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts.

Dr. Bajwa, a physician board certified in internal and pulmonary medicine, practice in Holyoke, and is affiliated with the Holyoke Medical Center.

He is a founding member of the Islamic Society.

For the past 18 years, he has been the executive director of the Islamic Council of New England, an umbrella organization of Islamic centers and societies of New England, actively hosting inter-faith programs to build alliances and learn from one another.

In addition, for more than a decade, Bajwa has served on the Interfaith Council of Western Massachusetts.

Mayfield School District Names Student of the Month

CLEVELAND, OH–Fakhra Saleem, Mayfield City School District’s most recent Student of the Month, is enrolled in the Cleveland Clinic Internship Program at the Cuyahoga East Vocational Education Consortium.

Superintendent Dr. Phillip Price said Saleem was identified at one of the most responsible members of the surgical processing department at the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus.
Price said she is 100 percent accurate when pulling surgical kits to be delivered in preparation for surgeries. She also volunteered to learn decontamination – a task not typically required of CEVEC interns.

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Islamic Trusts Could Revive Gulf Property Market

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Shaheen Pasha

2011-05-28T211614Z_2103306788_GM1E75T0ESH01_RTRMADP_3_EMIRATES

A dhow sails during the Al-Gaffal 60ft traditional dhow sailing race between the island of Sir Bu Nair near the Iranian coast, and Dubai May 28, 2011.

REUTERS/Stringer

DUBAI, June 2 (Reuters) – Jordanian Ashraf Hamdan began investing in Dubai’s real estate market in 2006, with a few modest rental investment forays before turning his sights on flashier projects as a wave of luxury developments hit the market.

The real estate bust in 2008 left investors like Hamdan with half-finished projects sitting in the desert sun and losses that were unlikely to be recouped.

“It was a costly learning experience for a real estate investor,” said the 53-year-old businessman. “But real estate is in our blood here in the Arab world. It’s a tangible investment, and from an Islamic perspective, that appeals to me.

“I’m just going to be looking for smarter, alternative ways to get into the market in the future.”

The emergence of Islamic real estate investment trusts (REIT) in the Middle East, which offer the chance to own shares in a portfolio of real estate assets with a steady paid dividend from the income earned on those assets, may lure investors like Hamdan back to the sector again.

Islamic REITS differ from their conventional counterparts by banning investment in any assets that pay interest or conduct business in any forbidden industry, like gambling, alcohol or adult entertainment.

Aside from providing an alternative investment in the Gulf Islamic finance industry it could also inject more transparency and regulation in a property sector plagued by unrealistic expectations of returns and occasionally murky dealings.

“Over the last two or three years, people have been in freeze mode where the focus was cash and other liquid things,” said Daniel Diembers, principal at Booz & Company in Dubai.

“The Dubai bubble really helped the (property) market to mature. Now is the moment where it is all shifting. There is a lot of wealth up for grabs.”

Globally, the market capitalisation for REITs was around $570 billion at the end of 2009, a 2010 Ernst & Young study said. Islamic REITs play a small role, with Asia serving as the predominant hub for sharia-compliant trusts.

Renewed Confidence

Malaysia’s Axis Global Industrial real estate investment trust (REIT) is planning an initial public offering with an asset size of $1.05 billion, making it the world’s largest Islamic REIT.

Islamic REITs launched in Bahrain and Kuwait have been relatively small in size – Bahrain’s Inovest REIT and Kuwait’s Al Mahrab Tower REIT launched with less than $95 million in capital each – and neither has been publicly listed.

But an anticipated infrastructure boom in hot markets such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the launch of the UAE’s first Islamic REIT may buoy faith in real estate investments, creating a wider niche for the Sharia-compliant trusts to thrive.

Emirates REIT, which launched with seed capital from Islamic lender Dubai Islamic Bank last November, is aimed at medium-income investors and offers returns of 6 to 8 percent annually, said Mark Inch, director of Eiffel Holding and founding shareholder of Emirates REIT.

“There is a discipline and transparency that comes with a regulated REIT,” he said. “Buildings will not only be properly managed but financial management will also be completely transparent. It’s a prerequisite of bringing back confidence.”

Emirates REIT has 40 deals under review ranging between 40 million dirhams to 500 million dirhams and will be fully operational by the summer, Inch said. An initial public offering is planned within 18 months to two years once it secures assets of 1.5 billion dirhams.

The interest is growing. National Bank of Abu Dhabi is considering creating an Islamic REIT while the FTSE Group may develop an Islamic REIT index as the industry grows globally, officials at both said.
The Gulf region has dabbled in the REIT market over the years with little success.

A 2008 Islamic REIT launched by Saudi Arabia’s Sumou Holding and Geneva-based Encore Management fizzled in the kingdom as the financial crisis sapped enthusiasm. Other attempts to launch a REIT in the region, including a conventional one by troubled property developer Nakheel, were quickly squashed.

Asia, by comparison, has seen a boom in sharia-compliant REITS. Malaysia, considered to be at the forefront of Islamic finance, launched its first Islamic REIT in 2006. Singapore’s Sabana REIT, launched in 2010, was 2.5 times oversubscribed and saw heavy investor interest from the Gulf.

The Gulf has been held back by the slow pace of innovation in the real estate sector, as well as the Islamic finance industry in general, experts said.

In contrast to Malaysia, where the government is active in creating a strong regulatory environment, there is no regulatory standardisation in the Middle East. And investors are understandably wary of investing in a new real estate venture given the spectacular property collapse in the region.

Oz Ahmed, associate director of wholesale banking at HSBC Amanah in Malaysia, said Mideast investors seem ready for homegrown REITS given the high participation in Asian ones.

“There’s definite potential for issuers within the GCC to identify assets but people have to become comfortable with them,” he said.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we’re working well in the banking paradigm. Now practitioners are looking to develop products that come closer to Islamic finance principles.” (Editing by Amran Abocar and Jon Hemming)

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