Islamic Development Bank names new president

Mohammed Sulaiman Al Jasser says bank's top priority is post-Covid recovery of member states.

A former Saudi Arabian government minister has been appointed to lead the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the largest development organisation in the Muslim world. 

Mohammed Sulaiman Al Jasser, the kingdom’s former economy and planning minister, will begin a five-year tenure at the Jeddah-based bank after taking the reins from Bandar Hajjar, who joined IsDB as president in 2016.

In an address to staff, Al Jasser said his first task would be to support IsDB member states struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, and to aid in rebuilding their economies.

“There is no greater priority than the immediate recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. “We face unprecedented challenges, which require a stronger and more responsive IsDB group.”

Founded in 1975, IsDB represents 57 member states across four continents, granting it access to a fifth of the world’s population. It is a major funder to much of the Muslim world, with operating assets of more than $16bn and a subscribed capital of $70bn. Its largest shareholder is Saudi Arabia.

The bank in recent years has worked to build new ties with the philanthropic sector, launching new partnerships and funds to support communities in the Middle East and beyond.

One example is the Lives and Livelihoods Fund, which was launched in 2016 in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other donors.

The $2.5bm fund provides concessional funding to low-income member states, in order to finance poverty-alleviation projects in areas such as health, agriculture and infrastructure.

In 2019, the bank announced the Global Muslim Philanthropy Fund for Children (GMPFC) in partnership with UNICEF. A first of its kind, the fund allows Islamic philanthropy, including zakat, to be used to finance emergency aid and development programmes for children in Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries.

The fund’s inaugural commitments came from Emirati philanthropist Abdul Aziz Abdulla Al Ghurair, who pledged $10m, and the King Salman Centre for Humanitarian Aid and Relief, which gave $9.2m.

Al Jasser served as Saudi Arabia’s economy and planning minister from 2011 to 2015, and as governor of the Saudi Central Bank between 2009 and 2011. - PA