In the recent past, the UAE Ministry of Finance has been emphasizing giving greater depth to its dirham-denominated debt market. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: The UAE Ministry of Finance is launching a dirham-denominated Islamic Treasury Sukuk (T-Sukuk), with a benchmark auction size of Dh1.1 billion. The T-Sukuk will initially be issued in 2/3/5-year tenures and followed by a 10-year sukuk at a later date.

“The Ministry of Finance cooperates with all its partners - foremostly the Central Bank of the UAE - to attract investments and deploy them in Islamic economy channels," said Mohamed Bin Hadi Al Hussaini, Minister of State for Financial Affairs.

"The T-Sukuk are Sharia-compliant financial certificates, and they will be traded to reflect the local return on investment, support economic diversification and financial inclusion, as well as contribute to achieving comprehensive and sustainable economic and social development goals.”

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The T-Sukuk will be issued initially in 2/3/5-year tenors, followed by a 10-year sukuk at a later date. It will be denominated in dirhams to 'develop the local bonds debt market and help develop the mid-term yield curve'.

The Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of the UAE work with relevant government entities and international financial entities to 'ensure best practices were followed when structuring the T-Sukuk'. "This allows for further development of Islamic finance in the country and cements its position as an international Islamic economy hub," the Ministry said in a statement.

Dirham liquidity

The new Sukuk will also help 'enhance the competitiveness of the local financial markets and enable market participants in the UAE to maintain a single, transparent, diversified and sustainable liquidity pool in dirhams," said Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE.

"It will contribute to the implementation of the new Dirham Monetary Framework (DMF) and support the ongoing work to establish the dirham risk-free pricing benchmark (yield curve), which would stimulate more domestic market activities to support the sustainability of the country's economic growth."

The structuring of the Sukuk has been approved by the Higher Sharia Authority at the central bank.

The T-Sukuk would give Islamic banks and conventional banks an option to invest their liquidity, and it could also help open the way for corporates and financial institutions to issue dirham-denominated bonds and sukuk.

This step is expected to help build the domestic yield curve and provide a pricing reference for dirham-denominated bonds, sukuk and loan products.

Earlier this year the first UAE-Dirham sukuk was issued from a UAE bank. Nevertheless corporates and financial institutions are not major domestic sukuk or bond issuers in the UAE, despite government initiatives.

For domestic, regional and international investors, the availability of dirham-denominated sukuk and bonds would help expand their investment options. It could also allow investors to access smaller-sized or lower-rated domestic issuers unable to issue debt in the international market. Investors would also benefit from the UAE dirham’s peg to the US dollar, with no additional currency risk exposure.”

- Bashar Al Natoor, Global Head of Islamic Finance at Fitch Ratings