Strong Demand for Malaysian Government RM4.5bn (US$990m) MGII Lestari Sustainability Sukuk “Reflects Investors’ Confidence in the Country’s Resilient Economic Performance and IF leadership”
Kuala Lumpur – Despite rising uncertainties over the global economic outlook, the Government of Malaysia, leveraging on the successful landmark issuance of the US Dollar Sustainability Sukuk in April 2021, successfully tapped into the domestic market with an inaugural issuance of Sustainability Malaysian Government Investment Issues (Sustainability MGII) of RM4.5 billion (US$990 million) in nominal value.
The strong demand for the MGII Lestari Sukuk issuance at end September 2022, stressed the Ministry of Finance, was evidenced by the Sustainability MGII’s oversubscription of 2.38 times and was successfully priced at a profit rate of 4.662%. The total incoming bid of MYR10.7 billion was the largest since July 2019 for a long duration (≥15 years) MGS/MGII auction.
“The keen interest,” maintained Senator Tengku Datuk Seri Utama Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Malaysian Minister of Finance, “demonstrates investors’ vote of confidence in Malaysia’s strong economic fundamentals and growth outlook for 2022. The issuance proceeds will be utilised to finance or refinance eligible social and green projects, as defined in the Government of Malaysia’s SDG Sukuk Framework, similar to the U.S. Dollar Sustainability Sukuk issued in 2021.
“The issuance will enable Malaysia to not only meet its commitments as a responsible nation and signatory to the Paris Agreement, but also further its efforts to advance its people’s socio-economic well-being. The issuance is also a testament to the Government’s efforts in advancing climate action as well as accelerating the transition towards achieving a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable nation, in line with the Twelfth Malaysia Plan, 2021-2025.”
This issuance also showcases the Malaysian Islamic finance industry’s innovative capability and global leadership in Sukuk structuring, and in advancing SDG-focused policies to enable everyone in Keluarga Malaysia to prosper together, added Tengku Zafrul.
The issuance attracted a diverse group of investors, with the allocation distributed among local financial institutions (50.3%), institutional investors (38.4%), insurance companies (7.2%) and foreign investors (4.1%). The new Sustainability MGII is expected to further entice demand from real-money investors, particularly those who are looking to formulate a sustainability portfolio.
“As the first domestic sustainability MGII issuance, this issuance serves as a new benchmark, and showcases Malaysia’s global leadership in Islamic finance, reinforcing its position as the world’s largest Sukuk market,” said the Minister.
Riyad Bank Successfully Completes the Issuance of a SAR3.75 billion (US$1.0 billion) Additional Tier 1 Capital Perpetual Sukuk in October 2022 Through a Private Placement to Qualified Investors
Riyadh – Riyadh Bank is the latest Saudi bank to successfully raise funds from the market through a Riyal-denominated Sukuk. On 5 October 2022, Riyadh Bank, in a disclosure to the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul), confirmed that it had completed the issuance of a SAR3.75 billion (US$1.0 billion) Additional Tier 1 Capital Perpetual Sukuk.
The Sukuk of each Series are perpetual securities and accordingly do not have a mandatory fixed redemption date. The transaction was priced at a profit rate of 5.25% per annum payable quarterly in arrears on each Periodic Distribution Date. The return rate shall thereafter reset on the First Reset Date and every five years thereafter. The Sukuk are callable in five years by the Bank.
Following approval from its Board and the Capital Market Authority, Riyad Bank announced in September 2022 its intention to tap the local Sukuk market through a SAR-denominated Tier 1 Capital Perpetual Sukuk.
The proceeds from the Sukuk will be used to strengthen the Bank’s capital base in accordance with the Basel III framework.
The Sukuk issuance was distributed by way of private placement to eligible institutional and qualified clients and investors. Riyad Bank mandated Riyad Capital to act as the Sole Lead Manager and Bookrunner for the transaction.
Cagamas Launches Skim Saraan Bercagar Islamik (SSB-i), a Global-first Islamic Reverse Mortgage Financing Scheme for Senior Citizen Homeowners to Fund Their Retirement
Kuala Lumpur – Another sign of Malaysia’s pre-eminence in structuring Sharia’a compliant social and financial inclusion products is the launch in October 2022 by Cagamas Berhad, the National Mortgage Corporation of Malaysia, of Skim Saraan Bercagar Islamik (SSB-i), a global-first Islamic reverse mortgage financing for senior citizen homeowners.
SSB-I, says Datuk Chung Chee Leong, President/ Chief Executive Officer of Cagamas, is aimed at helping senior citizen homeowners fund their retirement in compliance with Sharia’a principles. “With the launch of the SSB-i, we have enhanced our reverse mortgage offerings to appeal to the local market. The introduction of SSB-i offers an alternative for senior homeowners who prefer a Sharia’a compliant financing solution. It also represents our continuous commitment to support the development of Islamic finance,” he added.
SSB-i is an Islamic Reverse Mortgage Financing facility which allows retirees aged 55 and above, to leverage against the value of their fully paid homes and convert it into a steady monthly cash payout to supplement their retirement funds up to the age of 120 years, without sacrificing home ownership.
SSB-i is based on a sale-based commodity transaction, under the Shariah concept of Commodity Murabahah via a Tawarruq arrangement. SSB-i will enjoy the same stamp duty exemption as the conventional SSB scheme until end of 2023.
SSB and SSB-i are now available to senior homeowners in Johor Bahru and Penang, in addition to the Klang Valley. Interested applicants may apply for participation in the scheme at designated Employees Provident Fund (EPF) branches subject to the eligibility criteria, or through submitting applications online through Cagamas’ collaboration with Google Cloud.
“With the positive response garnered during our pilot in the Klang Valley, we are delighted to continue collaborating with the EPF and AKPK in bringing Cagamas’ reverse mortgage products to market. We will continue to evaluate the expansion of SSB and SSB-i to other cities in Malaysia. SSB and SSB-i represent Cagamas’ continuous efforts to address financial gaps in the marketplace with an initial RM100 million allocation to help retirees unlock the value of their homes safely to receive guaranteed monthly payout throughout their lifetime,” explained Datuk Chung.
“The success of SSB to date strengthens our belief that Malaysia is a viable market for reverse mortgages as we continue refining its features for the local market. This comprehensive and integrated solution focuses on retirees who may be affected due to a lack of savings and aims to help them maintain a decent standard of living,” he added.
Saudi National Bank Arranges SAR3bn (US$800m) 5-year Murabaha Revolving Credit Facility for Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Company
Jeddah – Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Company signed a SAR3 billion (US$800 million) Murabaha Revolving Credit facility agreement with Saudi National Bank (SNB) on 3 November 2022.
The facility, according to a disclosure by SNB to the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul), has a tenor of 5 years and is guaranteed by an Order Note by Saudi Kayan to the value of the facility and is valid for the five-year term of the facility.
The proceeds from the facility will be used to support and enhance the working capital and financial efficiency of Saudi Kayan.
Saudi Kayan reported a net loss after Zakat and tax of SAR452.77 million for the first nine months of 2022 compared with a net profit after Zakat and tax of SAR1,941.33 million for the same period in 2021. However, sales and revenues increased marginally by 0.55% to SAR9,141.04 million, compared with SAR9,091.1 million in the same period in the previous year.
The reason for the net loss compared to the same period of the previous year, according to the company, is due to the decrease in the average selling prices of products in addition to the increase in the average cost of feedstock, despite an increase in the quantities sold.
Malaysia’s Mortgage Securitiser Cagamas Berhad Continues Issuance Momentum with Aggregate RM3.3bn (US$720m) of IMTNs, Social SRI Sukuk and Conventional Bond Issuances in October 2022
Kuala Lumpur – Cagamas Berhad, the National Mortgage Corporation of Malaysia, one of the most prolific issuers of Sukuk, continued its Sukuk issuance momentum with the successful pricing of its RM500 million 3-year ASEAN Social Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) Sukuk, RM300 million 3-year ASEAN Social Bonds, RM2.3 billion combined multi-tenured Islamic Medium Term Notes (IMTNs) and 1-year Singapore Dollar (SGD) 65 million (RM218 million equivalent) Fixed Rate Euro Medium Term Notes (EMTN) on 1 November 2022.
These issuances follow the RM1.63 billion issuances in September 2022, comprising RM560 million 1-year Islamic Medium-Term Notes (IMTNs), RM30 million 1-year Conventional Medium-Term Notes (CMTNs), RM40 million 2-year CMTNs, RM30 million 3-year CMTNs and aggregate Singapore Dollar (SGD) 300 million 1-year Fixed Rate Euro Medium Term Notes (EMTNs).
Datuk Chung Chee Leong, Cagamas President/Chief Executive Officer, explained that “Cagamas continued to conclude the issuances of RM3.3 billion worth of bonds and Sukuk from both domestic and international markets despite market expectations of further monetary policies tightening in the upcoming Federal Open Market Committee Meeting (FOMC) and Monetary Policy Committee Meeting (MPC) this week. Demand for Cagamas’ domestic and foreign currency bonds and sukuk remain resilient amid market uncertainties with the continued support by the local and foreign investors which include asset managers, financial institutions, insurance companies as well as statutory bodies.”
The above issuances bring the Company’s year-to-date issuances from both domestic and international markets to RM16.1 billion. The SGD issuance also marks the company’s fifth foreign currency issuance exercise for the year and brings the year-to-date SGD denominated issuances to SGD615 million.
The SGD denominated bonds, issued via the Company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Cagamas Global P.LC. are fully and unconditionally guaranteed by Cagamas while the Ringgit issuances, which will be redeemed at their full nominal value upon maturity, are unsecured obligations of the Company, ranking pari passu with all other existing unsecured obligations of the Company.
Proceeds from all the transactions will be used to fund the purchase of eligible assets from the financial system.
Cagamas plays a major role in Sukuk origination and continues to be an innovator in the mortgage finance and securitisation market. The Cagamas papers are listed and traded under the Scripless Securities Trading System of Bursa Malaysia.
Cagamas’ corporate bonds and Sukuk continue to be assigned the highest ratings of AAA and P1 by RAM Rating Services Berhad and AAA/AAAIS and MARC-1/MARC-1IS by Malaysian Rating Corporation Berhad, denoting its strong credit quality. Cagamas is also well regarded internationally and has been assigned local and foreign currency long-term issuer ratings of A3 by Moody’s Investors Service Inc. that are in line with Malaysian sovereign ratings.
The Cagamas model is well regarded by the World Bank as the most successful secondary mortgage liquidity facility. Cagamas is the second largest issuer of debt instruments after the Government of Malaysia and the largest issuer of AAA corporate bonds and Sukuk in the market. Since incorporation in 1986, Cagamas has cumulatively issued circa RM366.3 billion worth of corporate bonds and Sukuk.
IILM Continues Consecutive Monthly Auction in October 2022 with a US$1.12bn Reissuance of Short-Term A-1 Rated Sukuk
Kuala Lumpur – The International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM), an international organisation that develops and issues short-term Sharia’a-compliant financial instruments, successfully reissued a total of US$1.12 billion short-term Sukuk across three different tenors of one, three and twelve-month respectively on 4 October 2022.
This follows two separate auctions in August and September 2022 when IILM reissued an aggregate US$2.37 billion of short-term “A-1” rated Sukuk across three different tenors of one month, three-months, 6 months.
In the October auction, the IILM reissued a total of US$1.12 billion short-term “A-1” rated Sukuk across three different tenors of one, three and twelve-months, priced as follows:
- US$540 million of 1-month tenor certificates at a profit rate of 3.22%
- US$330 million of 3-month tenor certificates at a profit rate of 3.95%
- US$250 million of 12-month tenor certificates at a profit rate of 4.50%.
The October auction, says the IILM, also marks the Corporation’s second 12-month Sukuk offering, further exemplifying the IILM’s efforts to supply its Sharia’a-compliant paper across the short-term yield curve. The 12-month tenor received a strong market demand with a total orderbook of US$496 million, with a bid-to-cover ratio of close to 200%. The 12-month tenor also saw a more competitive pricing compared to the first 12-month tranche issued in July 2022.
This latest Sukuk reissuance is the IILM’s eleventh Sukuk auction for 2022. The auction garnered significant interest among Islamic Primary Dealers and investors across the GCC markets as well as Asia. The competitive tender witnessed a strong total orderbook in excess of US$1.92 billion, representing a weighted average bid-to-cover ratio of 172%.
Further to today’s reissuance, the IILM has achieved year-to-date cumulative issuances totalling US$11.55 billion through 31 Sukuk series. The IILM, says, it will continue to reissue its short-term liquidity instruments monthly as scheduled in its issuance calendar. The IILM short-term Sukuk programme is rated “A-1” by S&P and recently received a second international short-term credit rating of “F1” from Fitch Ratings on 28th September 2022.
The IILM is a regular issuer of short-term Ṣukuk across varying tenors and amounts to cater to the liquidity needs of institutions offering Islamic financial services. The IILM has issued a total of US$85.31 billion across 184 short-term Sukuk issuances over the last eight years, reflecting the organisation’s ability to provide high quality Sharia’a compliant instruments and reliable offerings to Primary Dealers and investors, as well as offering stability to the global Islamic liquidity market.
The IILM’s short-term Sukuk programme has a current outstanding issuance size amounting to US$3.51 billion. According to the IILM, the primary dealers that participated in the auction conducted under the competitive bidding of the Bloomberg AUPD Platform included Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank; Al Baraka Turk Participation Bank; Barwa Bank; Boubyan Bank; CIMB Islamic Bank Berhad; First Abu Dhabi Bank; Kuwait Finance House; Macquarie Bank; Maybank Islamic Berhad; Qatar Islamic Bank; and Standard Chartered Bank.
ITFC Leads US$100m Syndicated Murabaha Financing Facility for Uzbek Ministry of Finance and US$50m Line of Trade Finance to Local Banks to Support Their Private Sector and SME Clients
Samarkand – The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and the Ministry of Finance of Uzbekistan signed a US$100 million Syndicated Murabaha Financing Agreement in early November 2022 on the sidelines of the 2nd Uzbekistan Economic Forum in Samarkand.
The financing, says the ITFC, will support the food and agriculture sectors in Uzbekistan and contribute to the food security of the country through the purchase of wheat and related input material for the agriculture sector. The US$100 million facility is a landmark transaction as it is the first syndicated Sovereign financing facility in Uzbekistan and Central Asia by ITFC.
Nazeem Noordali, COO of ITFC stressed that “ITFC and Uzbekistan enjoy a successful partnership. As a catalyst for trade development in member countries, ITFC will ensure providing trade financing to support the strategic sectors, especially the food and agriculture sector. This financing is part of ITFC’s contribution to the IsDB Group’s US$10. 54 billion Food Security Response Programme announced in 2022 to support our Member States counter the rising food security challenges due to inflation and supply chain disruptions.”
The agreement also falls under the US$500 million Framework Agreement, signed between Uzbekistan and ITFC in April 2019. ITFC has already provided US$50 million in 2019 and another US$ 50 million in 2020 for the agriculture sector in Uzbekistan. Since 2018 ITFC has approved a total of US$423 million for Uzbekistan, which includes US$ 200 million for the Government of Uzbekistan.
The ITFC also signed a second agreement to extend a US$50 million line of trade financing in favour of local banks in Uzbekistan, namely Invest Finance Bank, Ipak Yuli Bank, Qishloq Qurilish Bank and Joint-Stock Commercial Bank ‘Turon’.
This financing, according to Mr Nazeem Noordali, will cater to the needs of the private sector and SME clients of the Banks for funded (Murabaha Financing) and un-funded (LC Confirmation) trade finance solutions. Moreover, the private sector clients of the Banks, especially the SMEs will be able to access Sharia’a compliant trade financing and meet their import and pre-export financing needs.
“At ITFC we believe that the private sector is the backbone of the economy, as such, financing extended by ITFC to local banks enables the private sector participants to obtain much needed trade financing and be an active player of cross border trade. This helps SMEs to grow and contribute towards the job creation, poverty alleviation and improving the household incomes. With these agreements, we target also private sector and SMEs operating in the food and agriculture sector and more importantly, support women entrepreneurs, he added.”
ITFC is also providing Technical Assistance for development of capacity at Turonbank on International Financial Reporting System (IFRS). Since 2018 ITFC has extended US$ 223 million to local banks in Uzbekistan to support the private sector and SMEs in meeting their trade finance needs. These Lines of Financing facilities were extended so far to 10 banks in the country.
Sharjah’s Arada Developments Follows Up with a US$100m Tap Issuance of its Maiden US$350m Sukuk Offering in June 2022
Sharjah – Arada Developments, the largest developer in Sharjah, successfully closed a US$100 million tap in October of its existing US$350 million Sukuk, which was issued in June 2022 and listed on the London Stock Exchange. The tap was priced at 99 cents on the dollar, with an investor yield of 8.386%.
The US$350 million 5-year fixed rate RegS Sukuk issuance in June was Arada’s maiden public debt financing offering. The Sukuk certificates, rated BB- by Fitch Ratings and B1 by Moody’s Investor Services, were priced at par with a coupon of 8.125% per annum, inside the initial price guidance area of 8.25% for a spread of 530 basis points over Treasuries.
According to Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, Group CEO of Arada, “the company continues to expand at an extremely rapid pace. To maintain that aggressive growth strategy, we took the decision to tap the markets opportunistically to secure the capital that will guarantee our plans remain on track. This exceptional response and oversubscription from the international debt capital markets is a further sign of faith in Arada’s impressive growth trajectory, fundamentals and future prospects. We are pleased to have closed this issuance during an uncertain time for global markets, which is again a positive endorsement of our investor proposition, good governance record and credit strength.”
The tap, he added, witnessed resilient demand from the global finance markets, with a lead order of US$185 million. The proceeds from the tap will be used for general corporate purposes and to support the development of Arada’s existing projects. Standard Chartered Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, HSBC, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Mashreq, Sharjah Islamic Bank, Kamco Invest, and Warba Bank acted as Joint Lead Managers and Bookrunners for the tap transaction.
Both the maiden and tap issuances took place shortly after Moody’s and Fitch assigned Arada first-time credit ratings, of B1 and B+ respectively, both with a stable outlook. Arada is 40% owned by Basma Group, which is owned by Sharjah’s deputy ruler, and 60% by Corp KBW Investments, which is owned by Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family.
Since its launch in 2017, Arada has launched three successful master planned projects in Sharjah, with a combined sales value of AED33.5 billion, which are setting a new standard for integrated community living in the Emirate. In January this year, Arada announced the purchase of a plot of land on Dubai’s The Palm Jumeirah megaproject, in line with the company’s stated intention to diversify into new markets.
The developer is targeting a year-on-year 25% increase in the value of property sold in 2022 to AED3 billion and is also aiming to complete 4,000 homes during 2022. In total, Arada has sold just under 10,000 units since inception, valued at over AED7 billion. The developer has completed 2,500 units, with another 27,500 homes in the pipeline.
ICIEC and AFC Sign MoU to Promote Joint Origination, Financing and Execution of Climate Action Projects Using ICIEC credit and Investment Risk Insurance Solutions in Common Member States
Sharm El Sheikh – The Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), the export credit and investment insurance agency of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, signed an important MoU with Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) whereby the two parties agree to co-operate “in promoting joint action in the origination, financing and execution of Climate Action projects through ICIEC’s credit and investment insurance support in African Member States common to both.”
The MoU was signed by Mr Oussama Kaissi, Chief Executive Officer of ICIEC, and Mallam Samaila D. Zubairu, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the AFC in Sharm El Sheikh on the side line of COP27. ICIEC is a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Insurance and the only Sharia’a-compliant multilateral insurer in the world. The AFC is the leading multilateral infrastructure development finance institution in Africa.
Sustainable investment, climate action, adaptation and finance, and Green Finance are firmly embedded in the due diligence process of both institutions through linking all new business and other queries with SDG and climate action indicators. ICIEC and peer multilaterals have an important role in contributing to the international climate finance ecosystem. It is committed to further boosting its green and sustainable finance operations.
Climate change impacts all sectors of the economy. According to the IMF, Sub-Saharan Africa and some MENA states are the world’s most food and energy insecure regions. Africa benefited from less than 5.5% of global climate financing despite having a low carbon footprint and suffering disproportionately from climate change. The World Bank estimates that the Continent would need to spend about US$100 billion every year for the next decade to meet its infrastructure needs. According to UN, the response of African States to the climate crisis does not match the magnitude of the challenge the continent is facing.
Promoting climate action through capacity development, resilient financing and policy support in climate adaptation infrastructure and through the provision of risk mitigation and credit enhancement covers the mandates of both ICIEC and AFC. Another mandate of ICIEC is to promote trade and FDI flows in this case to its 23 African Member States, in partnership with peer and specialised institutions.
The MoU recognizes that co-operation between AFC and ICIEC would bring about better co-ordination and a more efficient implementation of their respective activities to the benefit of Climate Action projects, including renewable energy production in ICIEC member states, including in Africa region.
In this respect, the two institutions under the 3-year MoU will exchange information on their respective renewable energy project pipelines on a regular basis, with a view to explore origination, financing, insuring and delivery of such projects focusing especially on the renewable energy sector. The AFC has a proactive relationship with the IsDB Group and has even raised infrastructure funding through the issuance of a Sukuk.
Mr Oussama Kaissi, Chief Executive Officer of ICIEC, strongly welcomed the signing of the MoU with AFC: “This MoU further enhances ICIEC’s evolving playbook on Climate action and risk mitigation whether it relates to financing, underwriting, credit enhancement and risk management. It is also yet another example of South-South Cooperation and the recognition that Africa has to come up with African financing solutions to finance African needs. Islamic project finance and investment, and de-risking solutions, are ideal for long-term infrastructure projects given its connectivity to financing the real economy especially through risk-sharing Private Public Partnerships. We look forward to building on this important relationship with AFC in this key area of Climate Action infrastructure.”
Prominent Malaysian Sharia’a Advisory Tan Sri Dr Daud Bakar Crowned Winner of 2022 Royal Award for Islamic Finance
Kuala Lumpur – Prominent Sharia’a Advisory, Tan Sri Dr Mohd Daud Bakar, was named as the recipient of the 2022 Royal Award for Islamic Finance at a Gala Awards Dinner in October in tandem with the Global Islamic Finance Forum.
The Royal Award) was bestowed to Dr Mohd Daud Bakar by the King of Malaysia, His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at an award presentation ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur. In his citation, Tun Musa Hitam, Chairman of The Royal Award International Jury, stressed that “the Jury went through a stringent and rigorous selection process on the merits and achievements of each nominee before arriving at a final decision. As a respected Sharia’a scholar, author and entrepreneur, Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Daud Bakar has played a prominent role in shaping the global Islamic finance industry. He is widely recognised for his contributions in advancing Shariah thought leadership in Islamic finance.”
Dr Daud Bakar currently serves as Chairman of the Shariah Advisory Council (SAC) of the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), but in October resigned as Chairman of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM’s) SAC.
He is also a Shariah board member of international financial institutions and organisations such as Amundi Asset Management (France), Bank of London and Middle East, Dow Jones Islamic Market Index (New York), Morgan Stanley (Dubai), and Sedco Capital (Saudi Arabia). He was also instrumental in developing the first Sharia’a standard on gold issued by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI).
His multidisciplinary knowledge, according to the Royal Award for Islamic Finance Secretariat, has also helped bridge the application of Sharia’a principles in modern Islamic finance, leading to further advancement of the industry.
Apart from his active involvement in the global industry, Dr Daud Bakar was also a former President of International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). In addition, he has established a few Shariah advisory services and fintech companies including Amanie Advisors, which is contributing to Sharia’a-related framework and policies, product structuring, human capital development and technology solutions.
A prominent figure in Islamic finance thought leadership, Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Daud Bakar is also an award-winning author, with more than 40 books written in various genres. His books shed light on modern scholars’ interpretation of Sharia’a rulings and its practical application in the Islamic finance industry. He has published numerous articles in academic journals, some of which were presented at established international conferences.