This could be a more significant development than most other competitors to Bitcoin because, while Muslim buyers have displayed great interest in cryptocurrency, there are looming fears they will be outlawed in Muslim nations as a violation of sharia's strict prohibitions against usury. "Sharia principles, in addition to banning interest payments, emphasize real economic activity based on physical assets and frown on pure monetary speculation," Reuters explains. "That has triggered debate among Islamic scholars over whether cryptocurrencies are religiously permissible. Cryptocurrency companies are seeking to sway the debate by launching instruments based on physical assets and certified as valid by Islamic advisors." OneGram does this, as its name implies, by using at least one gram of physical gold to back the value of each crypto unit.
For anyone who wants to start investing for the first time or switch from an old-school system to a roboadvisor, there are a lot of options out there. Betterment, Wealthfront, and smart advisors from major banks all let consumers become serious investors and save for retirement without requiring as much money or time as personal financial advisors. But a major group of investors hasn't been served by these options. Wahed Invest wants to be the first roboadvisor to allow American Muslim investors to go digital and at the same time meet Sharia standards for investing. "While online investing may seem unorthodox to some Muslims across the globe, Muslim millennials in the U.S. have been interested in digital investment services and computer-generated, wealth management advice for some time," said Wahed CEO Junaid Wahedna in a press release.
A tiny number of Syrian refugees, having travelled through Sudan, work in restaurants while others beg in Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa - Abdulwahid Mohammed, a young Syrian refugee from Hama, is tending to customers at Damascus, a restaurant jointly owned by Ethiopians and Syrians in Addis Ababa's Bole Michael district. He currently manages the restaurant, serving a mix of Syrian and Ethiopian food. Among his Ethiopian staff, he is known as a shy workaholic. "I came to Ethiopia through Sudan. Ever since arriving in Ethiopia I have found it to be a stable country, with a relatively easy process to get foreign residence ID. Ethiopian people have been generous to me," he told Al Jazeera.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - On Tuesday, as dawn broke with a hint of sunlight piercing through the thick rain-season clouds, residents in Addis Ababa woke up to an unusual sight. A spectacle so rare, not seen for more than two decades: an Eritrean flag hanging side-by-side their own one from lamp posts in the main streets of the Ethiopian capital. Nearby, several banners reading "Welcome" in Amharic, Ethiopia's main language, and in Tigrinya, one of Eritrea's official languages, also appeared. Bigger surprises were in store for them. It wasn't long before news bulletins announced a high-level delegation from Eritrea - Addis Ababa's long-time foe - would arrive in Addis Ababa for landmark peace talks.
In Dubai's decades-old Gold Souq, customers from around the world haggle over bangles and necklaces. Elsewhere in the emirate, the region's top centre for gold trade, bullion is playing a new role in financial engineering. A local start-up company founded last year, OneGram, is issuing a gold-backed cryptocurrency - part of efforts to convince Muslims that investing in cryptocurrencies complies with their faith. The global surge of interest in bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies extends into the Gulf and Southeast Asia, the main centres of Islamic finance. But because they are products of financial engineering and objects of speculation, cryptocurrencies sit uneasily with Islam.