The second episode of the virtual talk show “Islamic Economy Around the World” was launched in Tunisia on November 18, 2023, in the presence of a group of leading experts and professionals in Islamic economics and finance in Tunisia, which a group of main topics were discussed, including the general framework of the profit and non-profit Islamic economy and its application to the country, and the legal framework and shari’a governance of Islamic financial institutions. It also reviewed the role of Islamic Sukuk in strengthening and supporting the Tunisian economy.

The episode was opened by Mr. Majid Gharsallai, Director of Sharia Supervision at Zitouna Bank, as moderator of the episode. He presented an overview of the talk show and AlBaraka Forum for Islamic Economy foundation and its partners in the talk show and introduced the speakers, in addition to reviewing the components of Islamic economy and its framework in the country. He introduced Mr. Nabil El Madani, CEO of Zitouna Bank, who highlighted the bank’s multiple contributions to Islamic finance, presenting its most prominent figures and products and its role in achieving the sustainable development goals, noting the adequacy and suitability of the legal requirements of each of the various Islamic finance sectors in terms of advantages, shortages and aspirations, emphasizing the tripartite cooperation between Islamic banks in Tunisia for the success of Islamic banking and finance in Tunisia.

Dr. Ridha Saadallah, Researcher and Expert in Islamic Economy and finance, and Ex-President of Tunisian Association for Islamic Economy, also spoke about the profitable side in the Islamic finance sectors in Tunisia, including Islamic banks, Takaful insurance, Islamic investment funds, Islamic microfinance, explaining the size, numbers and components, and the role of Sharia audit in Islamic financial institutions, while mentioning the promising role of Islamic Sukuk in financing mega investment projects, pointing to the great role played by Sheikh Saleh Kamel and his initiative to promote the Islamic economy and finance in the country.

He said, “The beginnings of Islamic banking were in 1983 through the establishment of the Saudi-Tunisian Finance House as a non-resident Islamic bank, meaning that it provided its financing to non-residents and could, within certain limits, collect deposits from residents as well. This bank was established at an early date, and it is necessary when we mention this establishment and the beginnings of Islamic banking to give credit to its owners in this field, We must mention the role of the late pioneer of Islamic finance – Sheikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel, who took the initiative in agreement with Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba – may God have mercy on him, to establish this first Islamic bank in Tunisia and North Africa as part of A major investment project that includes, in addition to the bank, financing a huge infrastructure that has changed the face of the Tunisian capital.”

As for Mr. Mohamed Achraf Boudaya Ex-President of the Tunisian Association of Zakat Sciences, he discussed part of the non-profit aspect of the Islamic economy represented in Zakah, where he referred the role of the Tunisian Association of Zakat Sciences as one of the non-profit civil society institutions specialized in spreading the culture of Zakah and working to raise awareness of it in Tunisia. He explained that the last deep study carried out by the association in 2018 was about the amount of Zakah within 5 billion dinars. This figure represents approximately 5% of the gross national product. He also pointed out the great demand observed by Tunisian individuals and companies to pay Zakah, while working on one of the field studies, in addition to mentioning the most important challenges facing Zakah in Tunisia, which is the absence of an institution that uses Zakah funds in various development sectors instead of directing them to fight direct poverty only.

Mr. Hedi Zabi, Director of Legal Affairs and Operations Pole at Zitouna Bank, discussed the legal and legislative framework governing all sectors of Islamic finance in the country, mentioning the role of the Central Bank’s publications in improving the mechanisms of work of Islamic banks and institutions, including the issuance of the Central Bank of a special publication explaining Islamic banking operations in 2019, stressing the importance of providing legal frameworks for the issuance of Islamic Sukuk, as well as clarifying the importance of finding a balance between Shari’a requirements and legal requirements in financial institutions.

H.E. Dr. Mounir Tlili, President of the Sharia Committee at Zitouna Bank, former Minister of Religious Affairs of the Tunisian Republic, added the Shari’a requirements that must be met for the issuance of Islamic Sukuk. He also mentioned the components of the Shari’a governance framework in all sectors of Islamic finance in Tunisia in light of the legal framework and practice applied by institutions, and the role of Shari’a bodies, noting the importance of laws and publications of the Central Bank such as Law No. 48 of 2016, which resulted in the Supervisory Board of Conformity with Islamic Banking Standards in the country, and the issuance of the Central Bank’s bulletin No. 5 of 2021 related to governance and banks in Islamic institutions.

The episode concluded with the wishes of all Speakers to open the way for Islamic finance to make its contributions to the development of Tunisia, while overcoming all shari’a-based, legal and other difficulties and obstacles, and thanking AlBaraka Forum for Islamic Economy for its role in holding this episode.

The second episode was broadcast live in cooperation with the Islamic Chamber of Industry, Commerce and Agriculture and sponsored by the Zitouna Bank as a strategic partner of the episode from the studio of one of the Tunisian television channels on the social media platforms of AlBaraka Forum on Zoom, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, with its translation into English.

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