These events always remind me of cooking. You put selected
ingredients together, and although you have some idea of how it is going to
taste, you really don’t know until the meal is served. And of course the
audience brings an unpredictable array of additional flavors and spices that
mix and simmer throughout the day.
The Muslim market, or Halal market (because it has huge
areas of overlap) is an emerging global market force. Many of the world’s
largest corporations and many of the world’s governments have recognised the
economic and political significance of this new commercial paradigm.
And while many would argue that its all about the huge
consumer markets and cash-flows of the Middle East or South East Asia, I have
long held the opinion that some key components of this market force will come
from the minority markets of America and Europe.
This is not just a numbers game; it is also about harnessing
the ideas, the expertise and the passion to bring about new collaborative
dynamics that will catalyze this new market paradigm. These key ingredients are
to be found, in abundance, in the USA.
The AMCC event was the first of its kind – anywhere – to
look at this market from the perspective of reaching the target consumers, and
the topic was approached from all sides. Both Muslim and non-Muslim speakers
unfolded their perspectives on the issues at hand, and while their perspectives
varied, there was the common thread… we are seeing something powerful coming
For me there were some key take-aways:
- Michael Hastings-Black’s array of cultural
reference points on the ‘identity politics’ of this new market, showing, from
the outside if you like, how the Muslim American identity is finding its place
in popular American culture – and therefore in the market.
- Crescent Foods President Ahmad Adam’s passionate
call for integrity thoughout the entire Halal production process, from idea to
ingestion. All too often these words have a slightly hollow ring, but here you
could recognise that we are witnessing the unfolding of a new Islamic corporate
identity, built on putting the highest of values into action in the
- Shahed Amanullah’s slide showing the map of the
real-time inquiries from the zabihah.com iPhone app, pinpointing all the Halal
restaurant searches along the East coast of the US, was real eye-opener. Not
just because of the density of all those little pins, but because here we could
see unfolding before our eyes the research of tomorrow. His graph of the growth
of Halal restaurants in the USA over the last 10 years is heading, literally,
through the roof.
- DinarStandard’s founder Rafiuddin Shikoh gave a
strategic analysis of the dynamics of this market. The high calibre of this
analysis could not have been produced by any of the ‘big name’ market analysts;
they may have the tools, but they do not have the insight. There is a new
league of experts with a profound understanding of this market phenomenon. If
the words of the old song, “you know something is happening here, but you don’t
know what it is…’ ring true for you in any way, then pay attention to
DinarStandard.com, and start reading between the lines.
Muxlim.com is showing every sign of becoming a leading force in shaping a new wave of social media for the Muslim world, and the potential impact of this, while hard to predict, is likely to be significant.
- Adnan Durani brought drive and high energy to the podium, and we wait with interest to see his gameplan unfold for the American Halal Corporation. If it is anything like what he did with Stoneyfield Farm organic yoghurt, it will be worth the wait. Watch this space.
- Perhaps the most telling question of the day was raised by
Time correspondent Carla Power, who, after taking us on a guided tour of the
global Halal market landscape, asked, “Can the Muslim consumers change the
political and social landscape?” For me, this is where the real question lies. And the answer is Yes!
There is no doubt that this is a big market. It is now being
driven by government policies, corporate market-share ambitions, and a
favourable social and economic climate. Almost a third of the world’s
population are now emerging as a ‘market demographic – albeit a complex one, but
with core values that are shared by many of the other two-thirds!
This is where the Islamic Sharia meets the marketplace, and
in a way that Islamic Finance could never
do, the Halal market is going to become a place of newly defined shared values;
values that are Divinely inspired, and deeply human in application.
At the AMCC there was a high level of shared awareness that this is the real issue. The articulation
and application of this deep understanding is going to be at the cutting edge
of this unfolding market paradigm.
So, as an important footnote, I would like to applaud and thank the organizers of the AMCC for their smooth and highly professional handing of the event. And as I said at the beginning…better book early for the
Abdalhamid Evans, Senior Analyst