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OIC Economies
OIC wrap: Key Mideast countries look to bolster bilateral agreements

Here's a roundup of key developments across the OIC ecosystem during the first two weeks of November

Editor's note: Cross-border agreements have historically been a stronghold in the Middle East, leveraging strategic strengths of partner countries for transnational gains. If anything, this has gained momentum in recent times. 

Qatar held key discussions to bolster trade and investment with Senegal, and is looking to review ties with Lebanon. Other GCC nations Oman and Saudi look to establish projects in economic zones, while the UAE and Jordan sign a massive investment MoU to boost bilateral cooperation. 


Trade Developments

Qatar / Senegal
Qatar, Senegal review trade, investment ties
Qatar's Minister of Commerce and Industry, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim Al Thani, held discussions with the visiting Minister of Commerce, Consumer Affairs, and Small and Medium Enterprises of Senegal, Abdou Karim Fofana.

The meeting centered on mutual interests, focusing on bolstering collaboration in trade, investment, and industry between the two nations. (The Peninsula Qatar)

Saudi Arabia
Friday’s Saudi-African Summit set to establish strategic cooperation in key sectors
The upcoming Saudi-African Summit in Riyadh is anticipated to play a pivotal role in fostering strategic cooperation across political, economic, investment, security, and cultural domains, assert knowledgeable sources.

The summit aims to strengthen mutual interests, promoting development and stability between Saudi Arabia and African nations. (Zawya)

Bahrain-Bosnia trade ties to get a boost with reciprocal visa regime
The anticipated implementation of a reciprocal visa system between Bahrain and Bosnia and Herzegovina is poised to bolster bilateral trade and investments.

Jawad Al Hawaj, Chairman of the Bahrain-Bosnia and Herzegovina Friendship and Business Society, anticipates that this move will significantly contribute to fostering cooperation in the realms of economy, tourism, and culture. (Zawya)

Oman / Saudi Arabia
Oman, Saudi Arabia discuss opportunities to establish projects in economic zones
In Riyadh, discussions unfolded on Tuesday regarding the potential for strengthening economic cooperation and exploring investment opportunities within the economic zones, free zones, and industrial cities of the Sultanate of Oman.

Held at the Federation of Saudi Chambers, the meeting convened a delegation from Oman's economic zones, free zones, and industrial cities, alongside members of the Saudi-Omani Business Council and prominent representatives from major companies and businessmen in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. (Zawya)

Qatar / Azerbaijan
Qatar, Azerbaijan sign agreement to enhance labour ties
Qatar and Azerbaijan have inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen cooperation in labor-related matters. The agreement, signed on the sidelines of the Islamic Conference of Labour Ministers in Baku, outlines a collaborative strategy between the two countries' labor ministries.

The MoU emphasizes the exchange of experiences, research, and mutual visits, particularly in areas such as labor relations, inspection, and occupational safety and health. (Zawya)

Egypt / Malaysia
Egypt, Malaysia to boost cooperation in petroleum field
Egypt's Cooperation Petroleum Company (Copetrole), a subsidiary of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), has entered into a cooperation protocol with Malaysia's Petronas to strengthen collaboration in the petroleum sector.

The agreement outlines joint efforts in exchanging experiences, with a particular emphasis on research and development. Additionally, both entities will provide consultations on new investments, fostering a mutually beneficial partnership in the field of petroleum. (Zawya)

Qatar / Lebanon
Qatar and Lebanon review trade ties
Qatar's Minister of Commerce and Industry, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim Al Thani, held discussions with the Caretaker Minister of Economy and Trade of Lebanon, Amin Salam.

The meeting focused on mutual interests, with an emphasis on enhancing cooperation in trade, investment, and industry between the two nations.  (The Peninsula Qatar)

Tajikistan and Islamic Development Bank leaders to advance economic ties
The President of the Islamic Development Bank, Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser, engaged in discussions with the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, to strengthen existing ties and promote economic collaboration.

The meeting, preceding the OIC extraordinary Islamic summit on November 11 in Riyadh, aimed at enhancing the partnership. President Rahmon expressed satisfaction with the Islamic Development Bank's contributions to socio-economic development projects in Tajikistan and its ongoing support in addressing global challenges.  (IsDB)

The Gambia
IsDB and The Gambia fortify development ties
President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser, engaged in discussions with Gambian President Adama Barrow in Riyadh, focusing on strengthening cooperation between IsDB and The Gambia.

The meeting built on their previous encounter earlier this year, where they assessed progress on key infrastructural and educational projects funded by IsDB.  (IsDB)


ESG Developments

ACWA Power teams up with UAE’s Masdar to develop clean energy projects in Azerbaijan
ACWA Power of Saudi Arabia is set to collaborate with Masdar (Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co.) to develop 500 megawatts of renewable energy projects in Azerbaijan, as per a memorandum of understanding signed with the State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan.

The joint venture aligns with Azerbaijan's ambitions for net-zero emissions and contributes to global decarbonization efforts. (Arab News)



UAE / Jordan
UAE and Jordan sign $2bn investment MoU to boost bilateral cooperation
The UAE's Ministry of Investment has inked a $2 billion memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Jordan, establishing a framework for investment cooperation.

The agreement encompasses investment in infrastructure and development projects, with a focus on strengthening the enduring strategic partnership between the two nations. (Arab News)

Islamic Finance
Islamic finance wrap: Malaysia's Maybank launches Islamic wealth management hub

Here's a roundup of key developments across the Islamic finance ecosystem during the first three weeks of November

Editor's note: With the UAE set to host the COP climate summit later this month, Islamic financial institutions are taking cue and accelerating down the 'green road'. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) rolled out a $500 million green sukuk, as well as a three-year ESG strategy.

In other news, Australia's first ever sukuk active ETF was launched, while Islamic banking window of Oman's BankDhofar launched a new debit card campaign. Malaysia's Maybank rolled out its Islamic wealth management hub in Singapore. 


Company News

Hejaz Group launches Australia’s first ever Sukuk Active ETF 
Hejaz Group has introduced Australia's inaugural Sukuk active exchange-traded fund (active ETF), the Hejaz Sukuk Active ETF (Managed Fund), available on the ASX starting November 2, 2023.

This marks the country's first Shariah-compliant bond alternative for investors, allowing participation in a Islamically-aligned fixed-income asset similar to traditional bond ETFs. (Zawya)

Meezan Bank collaborates with SAFCO Microfinance Company 
Islamic lender Meezan Bank has partnered with SAFCO Microfinance Company to launch its first Islamic microfinance branch, 'Yaqeen,' in Hyderabad.

The collaboration involves Meezan Bank providing 100 million rupees in financing, technical support, and training for product development and capacity building. (Urdu Point)

Maisarah Islamic Banking introduces innovative debit card promotion campaign
Maisarah Islamic Banking Services, the Islamic banking window of BankDhofar, has launched a debit card campaign offering customers the opportunity to win 100 Omani riyals for the same amount spent. 

The initiative, valid until end of the year, aims to boost debit card usage in Point of Sale (POS) and online transactions. (Zawya)

Maybank Group launches regional offshore hub for Islamic wealth management solutions
Maybank Group has inaugurated its Islamic Wealth Management (IWM) regional offshore hub for solutions through Maybank Singapore, extending its IWM reach beyond Malaysia and Indonesia.

This move is part of Maybank Group's M25+ Strategy, aiming for global leadership in Islamic finance and wealth management. (Hubbis)

‘Abu-Ghazaleh for Technology’ signs cooperation agreement with Aoun Islamic Finance Company
Talal Abu-Ghazaleh for Technology (TAGTech) has entered into a cooperation agreement with Aoun Islamic Finance Company to provide advanced and integrated financing solutions to TAGTech's clientele.

The agreement outlines that Aoun Company will deliver financing solutions adhering to Islamic Sharia principles. (Zawya)

Meezan Bank with SAFCO Microfinance Co launches Islamic microfinance services
Meezan Bank, an Islamic bank in Pakistan, has partnered with SAFCO Microfinance Company Private Limited (SMCL) to launch its first Islamic microfinance branch named 'Yaqeen' in Hyderabad, Pakistan.

This collaboration includes Meezan Bank providing 100 million rupees in financing, technical support for product development, capacity building, and training. (Business Recorder)


Trade Developments

BSP-led body to further promote Islamic finance in Philippines
The Islamic Finance Coordination Forum (IFCF) has affirmed its commitment to advancing Islamic banking and finance in the Philippines.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced that the IFCF, led by BSP Assistant Governor Arifa Ala, plans to conduct market studies and roadshows to promote Islamic banking and finance to both local and international stakeholders. (Pakistan Observer)



President Tinubu secures multi-billion dollar In infrastructure funding From Islamic Bank
President Bola Tinubu is in advanced talks with the Islamic Development Bank in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to secure a multi-billion dollar infrastructure finance facility.

The funds will support a diverse range of infrastructure projects at both federal and sub-national levels in Nigeria.

The negotiations, following substantive discussions with the Islamic Development Bank's Vice-President Dr. Mansur Muhtar, are a crucial step in bolstering Nigeria's infrastructure development. (Leadership)



Sami Al-Suwailem highlights prospects of digital transformation for Islamic finance
Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, Acting Director General of the Islamic Development Bank Institute (IsDBI), delivered a keynote speech at a seminar on enhancing digitalization in Islamic financial institutions during the 10th Indonesia Sharia Economic Festival (ISEF) in Jakarta.

The event, jointly organized by Bank Indonesia, IsDB, and Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), focused on the pivotal role of digitalization in ensuring stability and sustainability in the Islamic financial system. (Pakistan Observer)


ESG Developments

ADIB successfully issues $500m green sukuk
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) has successfully raised $500 million through a green sukuk offering, establishing the world's first green USD sukuk issued by a financial institution.

The five-year senior sukuk, rated A+ by Fitch at a profit rate of 5.695 percent per annum, will be listed on the London Stock Exchange's International Securities Market and Sustainable Bond Market. (Gulf Today)

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank unveils robust ESG strategy
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) has pledged to elevate its sustainable finance objectives, emphasizing its commitment to responsible banking practices.

The bank unveiled a three-year environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy, detailing its sustainability agenda.

ADIB aims to contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy, aligning with the growing corporate emphasis on sustainable financing. (Zawya)

Sohar Islamic partners with Zakat Authority
Sohar International's Islamic Window has reiterated its commitment to community service by donating laptops to the Zakat Authority.

The laptop handover ceremony occurred at a gathering held at the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs. This initiative reflects the bank's dedication to enhancing the role played by Zakat committees in the distribution, governance, and control of Zakat duties. (Zawya)

Halal Industry
Philippines eyes additional 'halal champions' to strengthen profile

Philippines is looking at creating additional halal champions in the country to shore up its regional profile.  

Secretary of Philippines' department of trade and industry (DTI) Alfredo Pascual eyes more 'halal champions' to direct the country towards becoming the most halal-friendly trade and investment destination in the Asia Pacific region.

'Halal champions' are enterprises or individuals that are already thriving in the halal industry both locally and globally, Pascual said at the Philippine Halal Economy Festival held this week, Philippine News Agency reported. 

These will help the country achieve its target for the local halal industry to grow to 230 billion pesos in trade and investments, generating 120,000 jobs over the next five years.

"Our micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, or MSMEs, is also one of our halal champions. MSMEs are poised to reap significant benefits as we take substantial steps toward their growth in size, scope, and income," the DTI chief said.

The government has enacted laws that will make the Philippines a more investor-friendly country, including Muslims investors around the world. These injunctions include the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law, as well as the amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, Public Service Act and Retail Trade Liberalization Act, he added. 

"These laws give more incentives to Muslim investors from around the world, as we invite them to establish and operate their halal enterprises here in the Philippines."

The Philippine Halal Industry Development Plan, a national strategy to reach its trade and investment as well as jobs creation targets, is expected to be announced soon. 

Islamic Lifestyle
Islamic lifestyle wrap: Indonesia Hijabfest returns for its 11th edition

Here's a roundup of key developments across the halal industry ecosystem during the first two weeks of November

Editor's note: Has hijab fashion taken centre stage? Seems quite like it. Indonesia Hijabfest returned for the 11th time this month, becoming a platform for enthusiasts and designers to showcase modest clothing. New Zealand's first hijab fashion show, also roped in varying shades of modest multicultural designs. What's not to like?


Company News

Indonesia Hijabfest is back again
Indonesia Hijabfest this year returned to support the hijab and modest fashion industry.

As the first hijab expo in Indonesia, the 11th edition took place from November 2-5, at Sabuga, Bandung.

The event, which began in 2012, served as a platform for designers, business professionals, and hijab enthusiasts, showcasing a diverse range of Muslim clothing for women and children. (Tempo)

New Zealand
New Zealand's first hijab fashion show showcased modest multicultural designs
Le Amana, the first Hijab Fashion Show in Aotearoa (New Zealand), showcased the elegance of modest wear in South Auckland.

The event aimed to encourage the acceptance of the multicultural head covering, fostering confidence and comfort among hijab-wearing women.

Co-founder Feroza Rahman shared this vision during an interview on 531pi's Pacific Days, highlighting the show's commitment to empowering women through fashion. (PMN)

Development program launched for UAE-based Arabic language, Islamic education teachers
The Emirates College for Advanced Education (ECAE), in collaboration with Mohamed bin Zayed University for Humanities (MBZUH) and Emirates Schools Establishment (ESE), has launched the Ethraa Professional Development Program.

Geared towards Arabic Language and Islamic Education teachers, the program aims to boost their specialized abilities. (Zawya)


Trade Developments

Indonesia’s Muslim-friendly tourism microsite launch marks new beginning 
The Indonesia Muslim-friendly Tourism (IMFT) microsite was unveiled at the 5th International Halal Tourism Summit during the Indonesia Sharia Economic Festival.

Developed through collaboration between CrescentRating, the Halal Tourism Association of Indonesia (PPHI), Bank of Indonesia, National Committee for Sharia Economics and Finance (KNEKS), and the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Republic of Indonesia (Kemenparekraf RI), the microsite offers Muslim travelers a tailored resource to plan authentic and immersive trips to Indonesia.  (Travel Daily Media)

Indonesia / Qatar
Indonesia eyes Qatari FDI in hospitality, tourism sectors
Indonesia aims to strengthen collaboration with Qatar in hospitality and tourism sectors, with a focus on the multi-trillion global halal industry and the growing trade volume between the two nations.

Indonesian Ambassador Ridwan Hassan emphasized the significance of this cooperation during Hospitality Qatar 2023, held at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre until November 8. (Gulf Times)


Operational Developments

Saudi Arabia
Saudia announces Umrah websites in America and Canada
Saudia has introduced dedicated Umrah websites for US and Canadian markets, offering enhanced support and user-friendly booking services for pilgrims embarking on Umrah and Hajj journeys.

The airline, unveiling these platforms during the World Travel Market in London, aims to cater specifically to the needs of North American pilgrims, showcasing its commitment to facilitating seamless travel experiences for Umrah and Hajj participants from the US and Canada. (Arabian Business)

Halal Industry
Halal industry wrap: Tatarstan mulls establishing first halal laboratory

Here's a roundup of key developments across the halal industry ecosystem during the first two weeks of November

Editor's note: There is considerable activity in the halal space across Muslim-majority countries, and rightfully so. But it is rather encouraging to see significant strides in countries where Muslims are not numbered as an easy majority. 

A conference in Brazil highlighted the country's growing might in the halal foods space. There are deliberations of establishing a halal laboratory in Tatarstan, a Russian republic, while London beckoned the World Halal Business Conference Circuit for the year to explore global halal trends. 


Trade Developments

United Kingdom
London welcomes World Halal Business Conference Circuit 2023
The WHBC Circuit 2023 London, focusing on "Halal Opportunities in a Borderless World," commenced with an address by the Malaysian deputy prime minister Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The event explores global halal business trends, challenges, and emerging opportunities.  (PR Newswire)

Continued demand for Brazilian halal products worldwide 
The Halal do Brasil Day, organized by the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, ApexBrasil, ABIEC, and ABPA, showcased Brazil's rising prominence in the global halal market during the Anuga Halal Conference.

Representatives emphasized the growing popularity of Brazilian halal products worldwide, attracting a diverse customer base and reinforcing Brazil's position as a major exporter of certified foods. (Zawya)



Iran / Indonesia
Iran, Indonesia to expand cooperation in halal standards
The heads of Iran's Institute of Standards and Industrial Research (INSO) and Indonesia's National Standardization Agency (BSN) have agreed to enhance collaboration in the halal sector.

During the 18th General Assembly Meeting of the Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC) in Saudi Arabia, INSO's Mehdi Eslam-Panah noted Indonesia's significant experience in the halal industry, considering its sizable Muslim population. (Tehran Times)

Tatarstan mulls first halal laboratory 
The Muslim Spiritual Board of the Republic of Tatarstan is in discussions about establishing the first halal laboratory, adhering to religious rules to address recent cases of pig DNA detection in halal products.

The proposal involves conducting experiments by taking samples directly at the production site rather than in retail outlets, ensuring greater accuracy and reliability.

Manufacturers are reportedly supportive of this approach, expressing a commitment to uncovering the truth about the halal status of their products. (Realnoe Vremya)

SFA focuses on halal meat certification
The Sindh Food Authority (SFA) is set to collaborate with religious scholars to implement halal meat certification, as announced by the authority's director general, Agha Fakhr Hussain.

During a visit to the Jamia Tur Rasheed campus in Ahsanabad, Hussain expressed appreciation for the institution's efforts to provide students with both religious education and modern knowledge.

A meeting between the SFA and religious scholars is planned to outline the details of their cooperation. (The Nation)

Azerbaijan adopts state standard for halal medicines
The Azerbaijan Institute of Standardization (AZSTAND), under the Ministry of Economy, has approved the state standard AZS OIC/SMIIC 50-1:2023, titled "Halal medicines - part 1 - general requirements."

This standard outlines fundamental requirements for the production and transportation of halal medicines, aligning with Islamic principles. (Azernews)

Company News

United Kingdom
The Halal Guys to open in north London
The Halal Guys, originally a New York food cart from the 1990s, is expanding its presence with a new location at 6 High Road, Wood Green N22 6BX.

The event will feature giveaways, and guests can enjoy menu favorites like gyro and baklava.  (London Post)



Halal Industry
Turkiye to host World Halal Summit, OIC Halal Expo

Turkiye is set to host the 9th World Halal Summit and the 10th Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Halal Expo later this month. 

The two events, which are to take place in Istanbul between November 23-26, are expected to host 500 exhibitors from 40 countries, with more than 40,000 visitors. 

"The [halal] market is expected to reach $10 trillion in the next five years. Our expo sees the participation of important companies in the field of food, food technology, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and modest fashion every year," said Yunus Ete, the head of the World Halal Summit Council, according to a Daily Sabah report. 

"This year, there is also significant demand from sectors related to Islamic finance and halal tourism." 

Ete noted Türkiye has accelerated its search for alternative markets. "Türkiye, which exports to 197 countries, is increasing its per-unit export income and is also focusing on alternative items. In this context, the halal market represents one of the biggest potentials."

"According to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Halal Economy Report, Türkiye, Indonesia and Malaysia have managed to become among the top 20 exporters in halal economy products," he stated.

Muslim countries' expenditures on food surpassed $1.07 trillion in 2022, and is expected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2026, the head noted. 

"This growth presents a strong opportunity window in production, investment and export among OIC countries. There is high consumer demand for healthy, halal and organic food products."

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Halal Expo London 2023



Halal Indonesia Expo 2023



Food Africa Cairo

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