Dr Bandar bin Muhammad Hamza Hajjar, the Chairman of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, addressed the opening session of the virtual workshop on the concept of a post-COVID-19 development programme for Al-Madinah. He thanked His Highness Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Governor of Al-Madinah Region, and His Highness Prince Saud bin Khaled Al-Faisal, for their commendable efforts in the field of socio-economic development. The Chairman of the IsDB Group lauded Taibah University, represented by its Director His Excellency Dr Abdulaziz Al-Sarrani, for helping organise this event with the aim of preparing a concept for a post-COVID-19 development project for Al-Madinah.
Dr Hajjar emphasised the Bank’s eagerness to support development projects in Al-Madinah through all available mechanisms, including the Awqaf Property Investment Fund (APIF), which agreed to fund the Al-Bayan Charitable Foundation for Education (Prince Muqrin University) in Al-Madinah. This project aims to provide the Foundation with regular income through contributing to the establishment of a 4-star hotel at an estimated cost of US$ 37 million, to which APIF contributes US$ 8.8 million.
Dr Hajjar pointed out that the IsDB established a special Waqf fund for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia similar to the Global Fund with a capital of 1 billion Saudi riyals. The aim is for the fund to invest in economically and financially feasible Waqf projects, including in Al-Madinah. He also invited Waqf institutions and the private sector in the city to support this project and take advantage of the opportunities and capabilities provided to those working in the Waqf sector, stressing that the IsDB opened subscription in the fund with an estimated contribution of 100 million riyals.
The President of the IsDB stated that the Bank was working on a pioneering project to establish a "Global Waqf Centre of Excellence" in Al-Madinah, with a capital of $50 million. The aim of the Centre is to build a global umbrella for the Waqf sector, linking and coordinating all those interested in Waqf. The Centre, he added, would use state-of-the-art technology to provide and facilitate the circulation of information to develop ideas in the Waqf sector, and would also market innovative programmes, projects and initiatives in the Waqf sector so that it can be effective in enhancing the socio-economic impact in Member Countries through partnerships. As part of the effort to build institutional and individual capabilities of the Waqf sector, the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), an IsDB Group member, is preparing to launch the first initiative of the Centre to grant an approved certificate of Waqf specialist in partnership with the most prestigious international university specialising in charitable action. IRTI is also working on the “Ish’had” platform, which is an e-platform using blockchain technology, to document and protect Waqf properties. The President, IsDB, pointed to the importance of this step because Al-Madinah is the city with most Waqf properties in the Kingdom, and therefore a considerable percentage of its citizens will benefit from this project aimed at improving and developing performance and thus helping develop the city and create and enhance job opportunities.
The President, IsDB, stated that the Bank was cooperating with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to establish a fund for the development of the tertiary sector, social investment and economic empowerment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is one of the innovative development initiatives launched and sponsored by the President of the Bank as part of a set of policies aimed at meeting the development challenges facing Member Countries. Dr Hajjar stated that, as part of this initiative, the Bank will initiate a study based on value-added chains for the productive sectors in the city, including in particular the date sector, the aim being to support SMEs, develop the production chain and remove the obstacles encountered in the various production phases up to export.
Dr Hajjar stated that the IsDB was willing to cooperate with the Governorate of Al-Madinah region and with all actors and those interested in the affairs of the city, and contribute the Bank’s expertise to support the topics that will be discussed in the workshop, whether through funding studies or through including Al-Madinah in the Bank’s Reverse Linkages Programme so that it could benefit from development success stories from other countries, or through helping develop value-chain projects in various impactful and labour-intensive sectors.