What can you tell about the current situation on the Russian halal market?
Halal is not only trade network. The share of halal in trade networks is less than 3%. The fact is that mostly small and medium-sized businesses produce halal, since they sell their products in other segments of the market. This is the eighth exhibition. We have been preparing for it for a year and a half and we altered the format a little, it’s now lifestyle format, halal-salon format. Halal-salon is for buyers and producers. And lifestyle is for the development of Islamic economy. Tourism, for example. Indonesia is currently conducting a research together with DinarStandard – how much Russian tourists and Muslim tourists from Russia in particular (about 25 million people) are interested in halal tourism.
What sectors of halal industry do you find the most promising?
Right now – food products. Of course, we expect that financial sector will begin to grow. We have companies that work on Islamic financing. Our company “Alif Consult” carries out great work in this direction together with our partners, including the Council of Muftis of Russia. I think that in Russian economy, financial component is the future.
How many visitors do you expect this year?
We expect five thousand unique visitors. Last year there were 3,901 unique visitors. At the same time, we want to reorient from quantitative indicators to qualitative. We want more visitor from businesses, more distributors, more contracts. One contract means more than thousand visitors.
Can you tell a little bit more about lifestyle?
If there’s halal food, then there are other halal services. Accordingly, there’s halal or non-halal clothing. There’s halal or non-halal tourism. There are halal and non-halal channels on television and YouTube. That’s what Muslim lifestyle means. Every nationality, every community has its own culture of life – lifestyle. It’s like that for Muslims.
Is it easier to host events like that now than it was eight years ago?
Every year it gets harder and harder to hold exhibitions, since participants want more and more. In addition, economic situation in the country leaves much to be desired. We held the first exhibition in the Council of Muftis of Russia during the crisis year – in 2010. And there was a crisis after that, and there’s a crisis now, and there will be crises. So we work in harsh conditions. But if we see satisfied participants, then we will do this again and again.
During the opening, representative of Chechnya invited you to their republic to hold an event there. Are you going to work in various regions, including the North Caucasus?
We chose Moscow because it’s the largest consumer market in Russia. 2.5 million Muslims live here – more than in any other republics. But now we see that there’s positive dynamic when it comes to halal in the North Caucasus – Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia. We’re working on this option, and perhaps before Ramadan we will hold an event that will contribute to the development of the industry in the regions.