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New hedge fund to help Muslims save for pilgrimage starts in Kazakhstan

Friday, June 10, 2011
Opalesque Industry Update – The first Shariah-compliant hedge fund was launched Thursday aimed at assisting Muslims to save fund for their trip to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the annual Islamic pilgrimage, various media reported.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia based Amanah AmanahRaya Capital Group Sdn Bhd, a unit of Amanah Raya Berhad and Astana, Kazakhstan-based Fattah Finance, have collaborated to launch the first Islamic fund Hajj Fund, which is specifically designed to allow Muslims to save for the trip to Mecca.

The Hajj is a religious pilgrimage to Mecca where the Muslim prophet Muhammad first proclaimed Islam. It is the largest pilgrimage in the world and is the fifth pillar of Islam. All able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so are required to go on Hajj at least once in their life time.

According to a report by Bloomberg, the Hajj Fund will invest mostly outside of Kazakhstan. An estimated 50% of Kazakhstan’s 15.5 million people are Muslim. Ahmad Rodzi Pawanteh, group managing director of Amanah Raya, told Bloomberg, “This Hajj Fund is actually a fund to enable the Muslim community in Kazakhstan to have a saving program to enable them to perform Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam. The fund is targeting returns between six and eight percent on average annually over a three-year period.

In an emailed statement, the fund is hoping to attract at least one million investors in the next three years, which will be able to support the travel of about 200 people to Mecca up to 2013.

Meanwhile, Zarat Kazy Nurpeisov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Fattah Finance JSC, has expressed gratitude to AmanahRaya for the launch of the first Islamic hedge fund.

He said, "I am grateful to our Malaysian colleagues, the AmanahRaya Company, for their confidence and tolerance. We started our cooperation more than a year ago and the whole time they transferred their invaluable practice, knowledge and technologies.

With the fund, ordinary Muslim can save enough funds to finance their travel for the Hajj. Nurpeisov added that the fund will be assisted by some of the world’s best experts in Islamic finance.

The fund will focus on portfolios that have exposures in the Hajj infrastructure such as hotels, planes, buses, etc. “Kazakhstan will have an opportunity to own hotels in the holy cities.”
Precy Dumlao

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