UAE: Uniform standards needed to drive halal trade growth

By Muzaffar Rizfi, Khaleej Times

PrintThe global halal industry, which is gathering in Sharjah for a key exhibition and conference, is continuing its fight for uniform standards since lack of such guidelines are hampering the industry’s projected growth.

Currently the halal industry, which spans from food to medicine and tourism to cosmetics, is valued at $3trillion, less than half its potential value, according to a recently released international study.

Focusing on a myriad of issues ranging from standardisation to cooperation and opportunities to challenges, the second OIC Halal Middle East Exhibition and Congress got under way at Expo Centre Sharjah on Monday. It was opened by Shaikh Abdullah bin Salem Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, and will run until tomorrow.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the second OIC Halal Middle East consists of a trade fair and a congress, is being held along with the inaugural edition of Kitchen Equipment and Technology Exhibition Middle East.

Endorsing the need for common standards for certification and accreditation, Expo Centre Sharjah CEO Saif Mohammed Al Midfa said the halal industry has tremendous potential to grow.

“The factors working for the industry’s growth are plenty, right from a growing Muslim population, its spending power, increasing preference for halal products, and a region that is predominantly Muslim, among others. But if we have uniform standards, they will help further enhance movement of goods, resulting in faster growth of the industry,” he said.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by a host of ministers, scholars, executives and other dignitaries, including Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, OIC Secretary-General, Saudi Arabia; and Dato’ Hasan bin Malek, Malaysian Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism.

Others dignitaries who attended the opening included Haji Abdul Malik Kassim, Minister of State of Penang; Mufti Muhammad Rafi Usmani, Grand Mufti of Pakistan and President Darul Uloom University in Karachi, Pakistan; Dr Saleh H. Al Aayed, Secretary-General, International Islamic Halal Organisation, Saudi Arabia; Nabil A Molla, Secretary-General, GCC Standardisation Organisation (GSO); Khaled Al Aboodi, chief executive, IDB, Saudi Arabia; and Abdul Rahim Hasan Naqi, Secretary-General, GCC Chamber of Commerce, Saudi Arabia.

“The show has registered a 25 per cent rise in number of exhibitors for its very second edition. Besides, since a big chunk of the exhibitors are from the halal food and food products segment, we have decided to launch a new show that will be a good sourcing point for kitchen essentials. The inaugural Kitchen Equipment and Technology Exhibition Middle East will be a natural extension to the halal show,” Al Midfa said.

Uniform standards will help in eliminating delays in supply chain due to compatibility issues in product development, packaging and distribution in individual markets, improve the credibility and effectiveness of products, and make it easier to differentiate between competing products and services.

The UAE has become the focal point of the global halal industry, given that Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority has been mandated by Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to formulate new halal regulations and codes for food, and cosmetics and perfumes to be implemented in all Islamic countries.