In line with its mandate to position Dubai as the global capital of Islamic Economy, the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) in partnership with Dubai Exports, the export promotion agency of Dubai Economy, recently led a multi-sector trade mission to Australia.
The aim of the high level and diverse group was to capitalise on the opportunities that exist in the Islamic Economy sector, which has grown beyond halal food to include a whole spectrum of activities from food and beverage to shari’a compliance and halal tourism, charitable acts and the fashion and design. The diversity of the Islamic Economy was represented in its entirety within the delegation.
Engineer Saed Al Awadi, CEO of Dubai Exports, commented: “The modern Muslim consumer is very different from that of just a generation ago. They are educated, well connected to the global marketplace, and rely heavily on the internet and social media. Various surveys have shown that this consumer segment wants the benefits of modernity within an Islamic framework and there has been a huge growth in modest fashion, Islamic design, halal tourism and charitable giving.”
Al Awadi added that the buyers of halal or shari’a compliant goods and services were not only Muslims but also those looking for ethical and wholesome products and services. “This implies that the potential market for Islamic economy is well above the current estimates of over AED 22 trillion (US$6 trillion).”
Speaking on the mission, Abdulla Al Awar, CEO of DIEDC, said such initiatives are extremely important to create an awareness of Dubai and its goal to become the epicentre of the global Islamic Economy as well as to develop linkages between private and public sector entities in Australia with their counterparts in Dubai.
“Farm production in Australia is worth over AED178 billion (US$48.7 billion) and when one adds value-adding processes that food and fibre go through after leaving the farm, it goes up to AED 569 billion. For a country of 24 million people it’s not surprising that two-thirds of agricultural production is exported. The Islamic dollar is becoming important as a consumer and investor and this naturally implies that DIEDC needs to work with producer nations as well as consumer markets,” said Al Awar.
According to Thomson Reuters the halal sector is fast emerging as one of the most profitable and influential areas in the world food business. The halal food market has grown strongly over the past decade and is now worth an estimated US$1 billion (AED 3.67 billion). Australia is the largest supplier of red meat to the UAE from there it is re-exported into the wider region.
Halal tourism has grown by 20% in recent years, expanding beyond haj and umrah. The Islamic dollar now demands that holiday spending should be at its terms and not on conventional basis.
An important part of the trade mission was the Islamic Economy seminar with eminent speakers including the Honourable Bob Carr who was the former Australian Foreign Minister. Carr spoke of the strong and historical relations between the UAE and Australia and how these relations are strengthened through trade. Trade becomes the enabler for many other areas such as creativity and innovation, said Carr.
The aim of the seminar was to showcase the expertise of Dubai’s private and public sector. The seminar also sought to identify megatrends expected to unfurl over the next five to 10 years within the Islamic Economy.