SOURCE: Kamakura Corporation

Kamakura Corporation

January 27, 2010 09:00 ET

New Version of Kamakura Risk Manager Incorporates Saudi Umm al-Qura Calendar

NASA Projections Used to Embed Calendar 100% Accurate From 1937 to 2200

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - January 27, 2010) - Honolulu-based Kamakura Corporation reported today that it has incorporated what it believes is the most accurate version of the Saudi civil Umm al-Qura calendar in Kamakura Risk Manager version 7.1.2, which will be shipped to clients in February. The Kamakura Corporation implementation goes far beyond a simple but inaccurate tabular mapping between the Islamic calendar and the Gregorian calendar. Kamakura has used advanced tools from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration to project the exact timing of the new moon, sunset and moonset in Mecca to ensure the accuracy of Umm al-Qura dates from 1937 to 2200. This is 123 years farther into the future than the best previously available projections of the Umm al-Qura calendar. Alternatively, a user-specified Hijri calendar can be used.

Ardi Tavakol, Managing Director for Client Services at Kamakura, explained the Kamakura implementation of the Islamic calendar: "To an increasing degree, financial contracts in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region have payment dates specified according to the local variation of the Hijri calendar. Beginning in February, Kamakura Risk Manager will automatically produce scheduled cash flows based on the Umm al-Qura calendar without any need for the client to make a conversion from the Umm al-Qura calendar to the Gregorian calendar first. Most importantly, the Kamakura implementation of the Umm al-Qura calendar through the year 2200 is based on state-of-the-art astronomical calculations. The current astronomical rules are determined at the Institute of Astronomical & Geophysical Research of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh. Our extension to the year 2200 is based on NASA's most accurate projections for the relative motion of the moon, the sun and the earth."

Kamakura's President Warren A. Sherman said Wednesday, "Kamakura's large client base from the Middle East to Malaysia is made up of very important and sophisticated clients. Our implementation of the Umm al-Qura calendar is a testimony to the sophistication of our clients. The Kamakura development team included Ph.D. researchers in physics, astrophysics and finance in order to make this stunning step forward, particularly the projections of the calendar to 2200."

Background on the Umm al-Qura Calendar in Kamakura Risk Manager

The Islamic Calendar, also known as the Hijri Calendar, is a lunar calendar where Year 1 (1 AH = 1 anno Hegirae) corresponds to the year in which Prophet Muhammad and his followers moved (Arabic Hijra = migration) from Mecca to Medina to escape an assassination attempt on the Prophet. Most sources quote July 16, 622 AD as the first day of the Islamic era (the first day of the first month of the year 1 AH).

Calendars based on the phases of the moon have been in use for thousands of years. There are many variations on the rules used by different cultures (in particular, within Islam) to determine the start of the new Lunar month. The time from one astronomic New Moon to the next varies from 29.26 to 29.80 days due to the perturbing effects of the Sun's gravity on the Moon's eccentric orbit, with an average of 29.53059 days. For this reason, the number of days in a Lunar month can be either 29 or 30, with no regular pattern (attempts to institute a regular, repeating pattern of 29-day and 30-day months are doomed to failure because the average number of solar days in a lunar month cannot be represented by an exact fraction). Moreover, one has to take care in formulating (and revising) the rules for the start of a new Lunar Month to avoid the occasional appearance of 28-day or 31-day months.

The average length of a 12-month Lunar Year is 354.3671 days, which is 10.8751 days short of the average length of the Solar Year (365.2422 days). To preserve synchronization between lunar years and the four seasons, most lunar calendars (Chinese, Hindu, Hebrew, etc.) add the 13th intercalary, or leap, month every 2 or 3 years, which makes these calendars Lunisolar. For about 200 years before Muhammad, Arabs also used intercalation (the Nasi month). In 10 AH, Muhammad, speaking in the name of Allah, prohibited Nasi, making the Islamic Calendar a purely lunar one. Hence, relative to the Solar year, Islamic festivals come about 11 days earlier each year than they did in the previous year. For each 391 Gregorian years, there are approximately 403 Hijri years.

In the Islamic calendar, the seven days of the week are the same as in the Western calendar; they begin at the sunset of the previous day. Islamic tradition states that the first day of the new month shall be the day (beginning at sunset) when the new moon crescent is first visible shortly after sunset; if the crescent is not visible for any reason (including clouds) after the sunset on the 29th day of the month, the current month is declared to have 30 days. The science of predicting the day of the first sighting of the new crescent elevated astronomy and algebra to a highly revered position in the Muslim world.

However, there are many complications involved in following this tradition. First is the definition of visibility: should it be done with a naked eye or is the use of optical aids permissible? What if there is no agreement among the observers? What if the western horizon is cloudy, etc. Moreover, the moon sets earlier as one moves East, and later as one moves West. Due to all these subtleties, the start of a Hijri month in one Muslim country versus the other can be different by up to two days, and quite often no reliable prediction of the start of the next month can be made.

This latter complication -- the unpredictability of the start of Islamic calendar's months -- makes a calendar based on direct observations of the lunar crescent highly complex for civic and financial purposes. For this reason, for administrative (but not religious) purposes many Muslim countries rely on their own version of a deterministic Hijri calendar that is based either on periodic tables ("tabular calendars") or on astronomical calculations in conjunction with a certain set of rules. In Saudi Arabia, it is the calendar developed by the Umm al-Qura University in Mecca.

The astronomical rules used by the Umm al-Qura calendar evolved over the years and reached their final form in 2002 AD: using the Sacred Mosque Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca as a point of reference, the current month shall have 29 days if

--  The geocentric conjunction of the sun and the moon (the astronomical
    new moon) shall occur before sunset on the 29th day of the month,
--  The moon shall set after the sun.
    

Otherwise, the month shall have 30 days.

Here are the basic facts about the Hijri calendar implementation in Kamakura Risk Manager version 7.1.2:

--  KRM performs Hijri calculations in the Saudi civil Umm al-Qura
    calendar, valid from years 1937 to 2200 AD.
--  The KRM implementation is the best Umm al-Qura calendar
    implementation known to exist. The Saudi civil calendar is based on
    astronomical calculations and a certain set of rules; these calculations
    had been done at most through the year 2077 AD. Using astronomical tools
    provided by NASA, Kamakura has derived the Saudi Hijri calendar through the
    year 2200 AD.
--  The Gulf nations, Iran, Malaysia, etc., each have their own versions
    of the Hijri calendar that is different from the Saudi. Within KRM, clients
    have the additional option to define their own version of the Hijri
    calendar. This is another unique strength of the Kamakura implementation.
--  Kamakura has implemented the Hijri calendar at the most fundamental
    software level in KRM, in the Date class. This allows Kamakura to extend
    Hijri date support to more complex financial instruments quite easily (in
    fact, in most cases it would happen automatically).
--  While payment dates are calculated according to the Hijri calendar,
    discount cash flow calculations are done in the Gregorian basis, which
    makes it easy for a portfolio manager to add Hijri-based products to a
    portfolio that is dominated by Western financial instruments.
    

The length of a Hijri year is usually quoted as "354 or 355 days," but it is important to know that the distance between the 1st of a given month and the same date in the following year in the Umm al-Qura calendar can be 353, 354, 355, and in extremely rare cases 356 days. This is handled correctly in KRM 7.1.2.

About Kamakura Corporation

Founded in 1990, Honolulu-based Kamakura Corporation is a leading provider of risk management information, processing and software. Kamakura, along with its distributor Fiserv, was ranked number one in asset and liability management analysis and liquidity risk analysis in the RISK Technology Rankings in 2009. Kamakura Risk Manager, first sold commercially in 1993 and now in version 7.1.2, was also named in the top five for market risk assessment, Basel II capital calculations, and for "risk dashboard." Kamakura was also ranked in the RISK Technology Rankings 2008 as one of the world's top 3 risk information providers for its KRIS default probability service. The KRIS public firm default service was launched in 2002, and the KRIS sovereign default service, the world's first, was launched in 2008. Kamakura has served more than 200 clients ranging in size from $3 billion in assets to $1.6 trillion in assets. Kamakura's risk management products are currently used in 32 countries, including the United States, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Russia, the Ukraine, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Japan, China, Korea and many other countries in Asia.

Kamakura has world-wide distribution alliances with Fiserv (www.fiserv.com), Unisys (www.unisys.com), and Zylog Systems (www.zsl.com) making Kamakura products available in almost every major city around the globe.

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