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Kazakhstan’s First Islamic Fund for Pilgrimage Starts

(Corrects name of fund to Hajj Fund in third paragraph of story published yesterday.)

June 8 (Bloomberg) -- The first Islamic fund in Kazakhstan started today to lure capital from Muslims who plan to travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the Islamic pilgrimage.

The Hajj Fund, co-managed by AmanahRaya Capital Group Sdn Bhd, part of Amanah Raya Berhad, and Astana-based Fattan Finance, will be invested in portfolios that consist of properties, equities and other Shariah-compliant instruments mostly outside of Kazakhstan, said Ahmad Rodzi Pawanteh, group managing director of Kuala Lumpur-based Amanah Raya. Almost half of the country’s 15.5 million people are Muslim, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.

“This Hajj Fund is actually a fund to enable the Muslim community in Kazakhstan to have a saving program to enable them to perform Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam,” he said in a telephone interview from Astana today. The fund will return between 6 percent and 8 percent on average annually over a three-year period, he said.

The fund may attract 1 million investors over the next three years, and will likely enable about 200 people to travel to Mecca for Hajj in the next two years, the fund managers said in an e-mailed statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dana El Baltaji in Dubai at delbaltaji@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Maedler at cmaedler@bloomberg.net

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