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Halal Industry
Halal industry wrap: Indonesia, Uruguay partner to improve halal products

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

Editor's note: Malaysia is planning to advance its Islamic economy ecosystem by setting up a taskforce to coordinate the development of halal industrial parks. The country is also considering tax incentives for the halal industry, while Indonesia and Uruguay are exploring cooperation for improving halal products. 

 

Company News


Saudi Arabia

LuLu signs MoU to promote Brazilian products in kingdom

LuLu Saudi Hypermarket has partnered with Brazil’s ApexBrasil to boost Brazilian product consumption in Saudi Arabia.

 

The agreement, sealed during Brazilian Vice President Geraldo Alckmin’s visit, aims to strengthen commercial ties and expand the market for Brazilian agricultural goods.

 

The MoU will leverage LuLu's vast retail platform to boost the presence of Brazilian produce in the kingdom (Arab News)

Malaysia

Lady K Malaysia Introduces halal and vegan Korean skincare line in Malaysia
Lady K Malaysia recently introduced L Soulle, its halal and vegan Korean skincare line, setting a new standard in Malaysia's beauty industry.

 

The products, free from animal-based ingredients and cruelty-free, offer skincare solutions while upholding strict ethical standards.

 

Developed in collaboration with Kolmar Korea, L Soulle meets the rising demand for inclusive and ethically conscious beauty products, providing accessible and effective skincare options for consumers. (The Malaysian Reserve)
 

 

Trade Developments


Indonesia / Uruguay

Indonesia, Uruguay explore cooperation to improve halal products

Indonesia and Uruguay have initiated a partnership to enhance global halal product standards, aligning with Indonesia's aspirations to become a frontrunner in halal production.

Efforts are underway to streamline the accreditation process for Uruguayan halal institutions such as UIC Halal Certification, demonstrating Indonesia's dedication to delivering superior-quality halal products and bolstering international halal standards. (Antara News)

 

Malaysia / Singapore

Malaysia will consider tax incentives for halal industry investments in Johor-Singapore SEZ
Malaysia is considering tax incentives for the halal industry within the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (JS-SEZ), announced Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi.

 

The finalized agreement is expected during the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat in 2024.  (The Straits Times)
 

Operational Developments


 

Malaysia

Govt sets up taskforce to coordinate development of halal industrial parks
The government has formed a task force to oversee the development of halal industrial parks and address constraints faced by state governments, announced Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The task force aims to collaborate with state governments to identify and resolve challenges hindering expansion in industrial parks. Only 11% of allocated land has been developed since 2009. 
(Bernama news)

 

UPCOMING EVENTS :

Islamic Finance
Islamic finance wrap: AlHuda CIBE launches platform to bridge skills gap

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

Editor's note: UAE-based AlHuda CIBE has established a talent acquisition platform to bridge the skills gap across the Islamic finance space. 

Meanwhile, sukuk seem to be the flavour of the month, with Central Bank of Bahrain's oversubscribed Sukuk Al-Ijara and Qatar Central Bank's issuance of treasury bills and Islamic sukuk.  

Company News


Oman

Oman’s Abraj Energy secures $104m Shariah-compliant facility
Oman's Abraj Energy Services, partially owned by state energy firm OQ, has secured a Sharia-compliant financing facility worth 40 million Omani rials ($104 million) from Alizz Islamic Bank.

 

Of this, 30 million Omani rials will fund Kuwaiti rigs, while the remaining 10 million Omani rials will cover non-funded working capital needs.

This move aims to reduce reliance on conventional debt. Abraj has also entered a five-year partnership with Kuwait Gulf Oil Company and Saudi Arabian Chevron to build three drilling platforms in Kuwait's Wafra oilfield.
(Zawya)
 

Operational Developments


UAE

AlHuda CIBE establishes talent acquisition platform to bridge skills gap

AlHuda CIBE has launched a platform to support the Islamic finance industry's development and success by connecting skilled individuals with the right opportunities.

 

This initiative addresses the demand for qualified, Shariah-compliant professionals in the growing Islamic finance sector, including banking, Takaful, Ijarah, Sukuk, and more. (Financial IT)

ESG Developments


OIC Countries
IsDBI and CIBAFI sign agreement to advance Islamic finance for sustainable economic development
The IsDB Institute and CIBAFI unite for sustainable development through Islamic finance.

The entities will evaluate economic progress in critical areas across select OIC countries, aiming to showcase the role of Islamic finance in fostering resilient economies.

This partnership highlights their commitment to sustainability and innovation, aligning with global efforts for prosperity.  (ISDB institute)

Investment


Qatar

Central Bank issues treasury bills, Islamic sukuk

The Qatar Central Bank issued treasury bills and Islamic sukuk totaling 2.5 billion Qatari riyals, with maturities of 24, 80, and 171 days.

 

The issuances include 500 million Qatari riyals for 24 days at a 5.7913% interest rate, 1 billion Qatari riyals for 80 days at 5.8313%, and 1 billion Qatari riyals for 171 days at 5.8268%.

 

The total private bids for the financial instruments reached 5.4 billion Qatari riyals, indicating robust market interest.  (Zawya)
 

Bahrain

CBB’s Sukuk Al-Ijara oversubscribed by 323%
The Central Bank of Bahrain announced that its latest issuance of Sukuk Al-Ijara, Islamic leasing bonds, was oversubscribed by 323%.

The oversubscription reflects strong investor demand, with subscriptions totaling 83.887 million Bahraini dinar for the 26 million Bahraini dinar issue.
The bonds, carrying a 6.05% return, will mature in 182 days, from June 6 until December 5.


This highlights the growing global appetite for Shari’ah-compliant investments. (Zawya)
 

All
Explainer: How collaborations can help unify halal standards globally

We speak with İhsan ÖVÜT, Secretary General at the Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC) about halal standards, collaboration, technology deployment and promoting awareness

 
How does SMIIC collaborate with other international organizations and regulatory bodies to harmonize halal standards globally?

Considering that international collaboration in standardization fosters a more interconnected, efficient, and equitable global economy, SMIIC, since its establishment, collaborates with other international organizations and regulatory bodies to unify halal standards globally.

In this regard, SMIIC has signed cooperation agreements with the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), Arab Industrial Development, Standardization, and Mining Organization (AIDSMO), GCC Standardization Organization (GSO), GCC Accreditation Center (GAC) and various other regional or international organizations related to standardization.

These agreements facilitate collaboration on developing and harmonizing standards, promoting mutual recognition of standards, and ensuring that the needs of diverse communities are met through unified and consistent standardization efforts.

İhsan ÖVÜT, Secretary General at SMIIC (Image courtesy: Supplied)

There are also ongoing dialogues with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). These dialogues with ISO and WTO TBT exemplify the importance of collaboration in creating a more integrated, efficient, and innovative global economy. These cooperation efforts, exerted for joint actions, are aimed at not only enhancing trade and economic growth but also contributing to the overall well-being and safety of global populations.

By aligning its standards with global best practices and ensuring consistency across different regions, SMIIC aims to establish a unified framework for halal standards that facilitates trade and ensures compliance with the requirements of the Muslim community worldwide.


In what ways does SMIIC engage with stakeholders, including businesses, consumers, and government bodies, to promote awareness and adoption of halal standards?

SMIIC engages with stakeholders through various channels to promote awareness and adoption of halal standards.

Here are some ways:

Partnerships and Collaborations: SMIIC, via its technical committees composed of experts and representatives from SMIIC Member State representative governmental bodies, works to develop OIC/SMIIC Standards.

SMIIC simultaneously collaborates with government bodies, businesses, and consumer organizations to promote OIC/SMIIC halal standards. These partnerships facilitate the exchange of knowledge and resources, helping to ensure that OIC/SMIIC halal standards are widely understood, adopted, and implemented.

Capacity Building Workshops and Seminars: SMIIC conducts workshops, seminars, and training programs to educate stakeholders about OIC/SMIIC halal standards and their importance. These events provide an opportunity for stakeholders to learn about the latest developments in the halal industry, OIC/SMIIC Halal Standards, foundation knowledge, and use and implementation of OIC/SMIIC Standards. 

Consultation and Feedback Mechanisms: SMIIC maintains open channels of communication with stakeholders, including businesses, consumers, and government bodies, to solicit feedback and input on OIC/SMIIC halal standards. By incorporating stakeholders' perspectives, SMIIC ensures that its standards remain relevant and effective.

International Conferences and Events: SMIIC participates in international conferences and events related to halal industry development. These platforms provide an opportunity for SMIIC to showcase its work, exchange knowledge with other stakeholders, and advocate for the adoption of halal standards globally.

Through these various initiatives, SMIIC actively engages with stakeholders to promote awareness and adoption of the OIC/SMIIC halal standards, contributing to the growth and development of the halal industry worldwide.

How is SMIIC leveraging technologies to improve halal standards and communication?
SMIIC is using technology to improve standards and communication in several effective ways. Firstly, we use a digital tool called the SMIIC Information System (SMIIC IS). This system helps us manage all the work related to developing and updating standards digitally. This makes the process faster and more organized.

Secondly, we are investing in research and development with artificial intelligence (AI) to make our standardization processes even better. Our AI system, AI Conversation, is now a part of the SMIIC Information System. It helps us work more efficiently and accurately.

Lastly, we have launched the SMIIC Academy, an e-learning platform that focuses on teaching about standards, certification, and accreditation in the halal industry. We offer online courses, webinars, and more. The academy is designed to help professionals and students learn more about maintaining the quality and safety of halal products.  

Can you share any success stories or notable achievements of SMIIC in advancing halal standards and practices globally?
The introduction of three OIC/SMIIC Halal Standards for the first time on May 17, 2011 can be considered as the start of SMIIC’s contribution to the halal industry.

We have announced May 17 of each year as “World Halal Standards Day” to promote the implementation of OIC/SMIIC Standards and underline their importance.

The first three standards on halal food, certification and accreditation, followed by new standards addressing industry needs in areas such as tourism, pharmaceuticals, logistics, and cosmetics paved the way for the establishment of the OIC Global Halal Quality Infrastructure. The worldwide implementation of OIC/SMIIC Standards by relevant parties in both OIC and non-OIC countries motivates SMIIC to further address industry needs and organize trainings on these standards.

Therefore, we have consolidated our training activities under one platform and launched the SMIIC Academy.

The academy provides trainings in the fields of standardization (especially OIC/SMIIC Halal Standards for our members and the private sector) metrology, and conformity assessment.  

This year, we are expecting the publication of OIC/SMIIC 49 - Terms and Definitions related to Halal Standards and the technical committees are diligently working on other topics related to halal. 

We can expect to see the standards on test methods for porcine detection; halal packaging; halal on-board meals; halal cosmetics claims; classification for wellness spa under halal tourism services; halal medical tourism; testing technics for identification of pig skin; identification of pig hair in textile; and others. 

Does SMIIC plan to develop halal standards for plant-based proteins or lab-grown meat?

The SMIIC Technical Committee 1 is currently exploring the possibility of developing one or more standards related to various halal-critical issues. To this end, a dedicated study group has been established, comprising eight member countries - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Palestine, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Türkiye - along with a liaison from IIFA.

The study group, New Protein Alternatives, is tasked with preparing a comprehensive visibility report on four main topics: cultured meat, insect protein, plant-based meat, and algae proteins. 

Three meetings have been conducted so far and two more meetings are to be organized before finalizing the report.

Halal Industry
How will Indonesia’s new government cement its halal economy?

Indonesia is five months away from welcoming defence minister - Prabowo Subianto - as its next president.

President-elect Subianto will succeed incumbent Joko Widodo in October. 

From an Islamic economy standpoint, how will the baton of the Sharia economic & finance national agenda be handed over to the next government?

The transition has, so far, been managed smoothly between the current and upcoming government, says Sutan Emir Hidayat, Sharia ecosystem infrastructure director at the National Sharia Economy and Finance Committee or KNEKS.  

Gauging from the communication conducted with the upcoming president’s Shariah economy teams, there is clear intent to strengthen KNEKS to become an independent entity. 

KNEKS operates under the ministry of finance. 

“They have shown strong commitment to continue what we have achieved. There were discussions regarding KNEKS and its transformation into an independent body, its pros and cons,” Hidayat told Salaam Gateway.

At the moment, KNEKS consist of 16 members, including three coordinating ministries; eight ministries – finance, religious affairs, industry, trade, cooperative & SME, state-owned enterprises (SOE), tourism & creative economy, national development plan - and three institutions as well as the Indonesian chamber of commerce and the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI). 

KNEKS has regional representative offices in almost all provinces across Indonesia except nine, including Papua Island, Bali Island, Nusa Tenggara Timur and Maluku, where majority of its residents are non-Muslims. 

Hidayat added that the Sharia economy and finance agenda is already a part of the National Long Term Development Plan (RPJPN) 2025-2045 and its derivative - the five-year medium term development plan (RJPMN) 2025-2029.

The medium development plan outlines more detailed performance indicators about the Sharia economy masterplan (MEKSI). 

“We are currently completing the MEKSI document and have welcomed governors from regions to explicitly include Sharia economy and finance agenda in their regional development plans with sustainability and continuity. We have asked provinces such as West Kalimantan, Riau, Gorontalo and they have shown enthusiasm so far,” says Hidayat.

The new Sharia economy masterplan, according to Hidayat, is a refinement of MEKSI 2019-2024 and has 13 priority programs. 

“We have worked on these priority programs, but they are very basic and still have gaps. To be more comprehensive, they must be developed further. The new MEKSI will be in line with the five-year medium development plan that is being drafted and it will be used to support the vision of Indonesia’s 2045 social economic transformation,” he emphasises.

The Sharia economy and finance agenda is also included in the 2025 state budget which specifically outlines performance indicators for ministries and institutions that are KNEKS members.

Hidayat hopes the new government, consisting of Subianto and vice-president Gibran Rakabuming Raka, finds new sources of growth. 

Meanwhile, Rezza Artha, a team member of the upcoming government, says the new vice president himself is strongly committed to advancing the Islamic economy through several policies such as training and upskilling professionals in the Islamic banking sector, improving the quality of halal tourism, and the overall halal industry in Indonesia.

During the electoral campaign, the president and vice president issued a vision and mission document, which outlined how the new government will use the Islamic economy as an engine of growth, encouraging Indonesia to become a center of the global halal economy through strengthening its Islamic financial institutions, expanding the ecosystem, education and research, as well as optimizing the utilization of social funds (zakat, sadaqah, waqf, etc.).

“The document also stated that they will establish a Waqf Bank as an economic driver based on the Sharia economy on the basis of academic, thorough study, and comprehensive feasibility tests as well as the preparation of laws and regulations related to the Waqf Bank,” says Artha.

Other initiatives include strengthening state-owned enterprises and the private sector that conduct businesses or offer services across the Islamic economy.

“Prabowo-Gibran clearly stated in their Asta Cita (vision and mission document) that the Islamic economy is a sector they will develop if they received the mandate to run the government in the future,” he adds.

Key challenges
Hidayat admits that not all of the 13 priority programs of the Sharia masterplan ran smoothly during the last five years, the delay of the mandatory halal certifications being one. 

Last month, the country’s coordinating minister for economic affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, announced that the government has postponed the mandatory halal certification of products until 2026, particularly for micro and small enterprises. Micro enterprises are companies whose annual sales are in the range of around $62,586 to $125,295. Sales of small enterprises reach approximately $939,718 per year.

The policy has been postponed for food and beverage products as well as those in the traditional, herbal, and other medicines. The mandate also applies on cosmetics and chemical products, accessories, household goods, and medical device categories.

The original October 2024 deadline for the certification policy will continue to be applicable on medium and large enterprises. 

e had aimed that by 2024 there would be 10 million halal-certified MSME products, but only 4.4 million have secured certifications so far. On that basis and perhaps due to lack of education and awareness, we require a big budget since the Halal Product Assurance Agency (BPJPH) and KNEKS alone are not enough for a country as big as Indonesia. That’s why the regulation was postponed for two years. I know we have a risk of reputation following this setback. But it is in the best interest of MSMEs,” says Hidayat. 

Number of halal certified products since 2019

4,418,343

Overall target

10,000,000

%

44.18%

Source: LPPOM MUI website

 

LPPOM director Muti Arintawati said many stakeholders will feel a sense of relief. Recognizing the vast number of businesses and the limited time until October this year, she acknowledged the challenges MSMEs would face in meeting the deadline. 

However, she cautions that this extension should not encourage complacency. Intermediate programs and strict targets must be established to ensure businesses do not delay the certification. 

“The attention should not be solely on the business scale within the MSME sector. The focus should be put on businesses supplying critical materials used in other industries, regardless of whether they are MSMEs or not. This is because the supply of food and beverage-related materials and services involves both large/medium and small/micro businesses," said Arintawati.

For example, meat availability from animal/poultry slaughterhouses is crucial, as meat and its derivatives are used in various culinary products. Extension of such MSMEs in the halal supply chain would hamper the availability of halal meat, hindering halal certification of businesses using meat. Several MSMEs offer repackaged products for spices and baking ingredients as well as operate services related to food and beverage.

Therefore, LPPOM urges the government to focus on solving halal issues in the upstream sector first. 

"Ensuring the availability of halal materials and services will make it easier for MSMEs to produce halal food and beverage end products. It's like a domino effect. If upstream issues are resolved, most halal product issues in Indonesia will also be resolved. The halal certification process will be easier, and the halal guarantee can be more accountable," said Arintawati.

Halal Industry
Why Thailand is poised to become a halal food powerhouse 

Thailand is emerging as a competitive force in the global halal food marketplace as it looks to capture a slice of the booming sector.

With more than 160,000 halal-certified products, the country aims to position itself as a regional halal hub over the next four years, capitalizing on its proximity to Southeast Asia’s Muslim-majority countries as well as increasing its food exports to the Middle East.

“Under the current government, the Ministry of Industry’s Office of Industrial Economics has set a new strategy with the vision of raising the Thai halal industry to be ASEAN’s halal hub by 2028,” Dr. Winai Dahlan, director of the Halal Science Center of Chulalongkorn University tells Salaam Gateway.

To achieve this vision, the Office of Industrial Economics intends to develop the local halal industry to ensure it has the highest quality and standards as well as to reduce limitations and amend regulations for halal accreditation, says Dahlan.

The Halal Science Centre is a government-funded facility that plays a pivotal role in developing halal standardization systems in Thailand.

In early 2024, the Thai Cabinet established the National Halal Industry Committee to steer the development of the halal food sector and the Thai Halal Industry Centre to promote local food products internationally.

These efforts are a part of a broader strategy to develop and promote various halal products and services, including fashion and tourism, as well as to develop a halal economic corridor across the southern border provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, Satun, and parts of Songkhla. The plan is expected to bolster GDP by 1.2% by 2028, while creating an estimated 100,000 jobs annually.

Thailand's halal outlook
Around 64,000 Thai companies
have had their food products halal-certified
There are over 160,000 products with halal certification Certified by the Central Islamic Council of Thailand
Source: Department of International Trade Promotion 

Trade promotion

Despite being a predominantly Buddhist country where Muslims make up only 5.8% of the population, Thailand has taken strategic initiatives to expand its halal food sector and is running intensive trade promotion campaigns to pursue opportunities in promising markets.

“The halal food sector is a large market where consumers have high purchasing power. It accounts for a global market value of approximately $1.2 trillion,” Phusit Ratanakul Sereroengrit, director-general of Thailand’s Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), tells Salaam Gateway.

“DITP has implemented various projects to enhance the potential of Thai halal products in international markets, including branding of such products and promoting their exports to targeted countries.”

DITP operates under the country’s Ministry of Commerce.

For example, the Thailand pavilion at the Gulfood exhibition, that took place in Dubai in February, saw the participation of 134 companies, with trade negotiations reaching a total value of $207.6 million, according to Ministry of Commerce data. These include immediate orders of about $9.2 million. 

Next on DITP’s agenda is to promote Thailand’s halal food products at the upcoming Thaifex 2024, one of Asia’s biggest F&B industry events, as well as among overseas stores and importers, with meetings planned in key cities of Chicago (US), and Doha (Qatar) next month. 

As the main promoter of Thai exports, DITP has also been organizing business matching and trade negotiation activities for halal F&B products. 

Following a series of such meetings in the MENA region in April 2024 - which brought together 10 foreign importers and 21 Thai exporters resulting in a total order value of $25.9 million - DITP has scheduled similar events for Southeast Asia in July, and for East Asia and South Asia in September.

“The Muslim market in ASEAN is massive, and Thailand has significant advantage in logistics and a variety of products that cater to the needs of this consumer segment,” says Sereroengrit.

“With the efforts of the Central Islamic Council of Thailand (CICOT) and the institutions that inspect and certify various halal standards in accordance with Islamic provisions, halal products have become one of Thailand’s key export sectors and have earned trust among global consumers for their quality and standards.”

Thailand’s free economic system which enables fair competition and is based on open market mechanisms, has also allowed the private sector to contribute to the growth of the halal food sector.

“The state is responsible for controlling and preventing the creation of advantages and disadvantages for any one or group of businesses, and for stimulating competition in price, quality, and style of products. It plays a small role in setting the direction for the country's industrial development,” explains Dahlan.

The halal business case is moving in the same direction, he adds.

“The rapid growth of halal food in Thailand is therefore the work of the private sector – either through agricultural or industrial production; the service sector and the Islamic organization sector in order to ensure the halalness of products. The state only provides support in various fields, including halal science and technology work carried out under state universities,” adds Dahlan.

Giant leap in halal exports

As a result of the government’s support of the industry and the private sector’s efforts, Thailand’s halal food exports have seen a 24-fold increase over the past two decades, with the lion’s share going to the 57 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries, says Dahlan.

Thailand’s exports of halal F&B products to OIC countries amounted to $6.2 million in 2023, a 5.3% increase year-on-year, according to Ministry of Commerce data. The exported goods included rice (35%), sugar (22%), canned and processed seafood (10%), cassava products (4.3%), wheats and ready-to-eat products (3.4%), and fresh and frozen chicken (3.4%).

The export figure is expected to grow by 3% in 2024 to reach $6.4 million.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Iraq, the UAE, and Mozambique accounted for nearly 76% of Thailand’s total halal food exports to OIC countries in 2023. 

However, the country plans to diversify its halal food export markets. Alongside OIC countries, it is eyeing non-Muslim majority countries with large Muslim populations, such as India, China, Russia, the US, and the UK, as well as countries that receive large numbers of Muslim tourists, such as Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong.

Halal compliance

A distinctive feature of Thailand's commitment to the halal industry lies in its compliance with international standards. This commitment led to the acceptance of Thailand as a member of OIC’s Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC) in 2017, positioning it as the first non-Muslim nation to be accredited as a participant of the OIC/SMIIC.

Additionally, CICOT - the government organization responsible for issuing Thailand’s halal certification mark - requires businesses that have never held a halal certificate to first undergo training with the Halal Standard Institute of Thailand before applying for certification.

In a step forward for the country’s halal food industry, CICOT received an accreditation from the Saudi Food and Drugs Authority in 2023 and the UAE’s Emirates International Accreditation Centre in 2024, enabling Thailand to export various halal goods to both Middle Eastern countries.

“Halal certification of products in Thailand is in accordance with The Administration of Islamic organizations Act B.E. 2540 (1997), which is under the authority of CICOT in collaboration with the Offices of Islamic Committee of Provinces (ICOP),” says Dahlan.

“As a result, there are 41 halal certification bodies in Thailand: one office of CICOT together with 40 offices of ICOP, with all parties agreeing on the use of the joint mark of halal certification. Around 160,000 products are halal certified and nearly 7,000 establishments and factories are using the joint mark.”

The Halal Science Center’s operations have also led to greater confidence in the safety of halal food products from Thailand. The center plays a major role in strengthening the industry through science and technology and assists other countries in analyzing food samples. 

Since its establishment in 2003, it has developed various innovations, such as the HAL-Q quality management system to integrate halal standards into food safety, and H-numbers – the world’s first database of chemicals used in the food industry. 

With the rapid growth of technology and its impact on the development of commercial businesses, the Halal Science Center is looking to apply Shariah-compliant blockchain, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing to its operations, with the goal of building greater trust in the halal economy, says Dahlan.

As Thailand continues to push forward with its strategy, including its plan to turn the Southern Economic Corridor into a hub for halal food, the country is poised to become a major force in the global halal market.

Islamic Lifestyle
Islamic lifestyle wrap: Saudi introduces digital ID service for Hajj pilgrims

Here's a roundup of key developments across the Islamic lifestyle ecosystem during the first two weeks of May

Editor's note: Hajj season is round the corner, so its only fair that Saudi Arabia dominates the news. The kingdom launched a digital identity service to facilitate Hajj pilgrims, and aims to test flying taxis and drones this season.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong aims to become more Muslim-friendly by broadening its halal food offerings. 

Operational Developments


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia launches digital ID service as Hajj draws near

Saudi Arabia introduces a digital identity service for Hajj pilgrims, aiming to enhance their experience through technological innovation aligned with the goals of Vision 2030.

 

Launched by the Ministry of Interior, the digital ID reflects the kingdom's commitment to leveraging digital transformation to serve pilgrims effectively. (Daily Pakistan)

 

Company News


United Kingdom

GymShark introduces sportswear hijab

Gymshark unveils its latest offering, a sports hijab, marking a significant stride in modest activewear and inclusive design. The scarf, available in cargo teal and sand beige shades, boasts sweat-wicking fabric suitable for gym and outdoor wear.

 

This launch continues Gymshark's trend of inclusive products. (Hypebae)

 

 

Trade Developments


Philippines

DOT to further boost Muslim-friendly tourism

The Philippines' Department of Tourism (DOT) aims to enhance Muslim-friendly tourism, targeting Middle Eastern visitors.

 

At the Arabian Travel Market 2024, tourism secretary Christina Frasco engaged with 90 stakeholders from the region. This initiative follows the country's recognition as an emerging Muslim-friendly destination at last year's ATM event. (Inquirer)

 

Türkiye

Halal tourism fair in Izmir boosts sector prospects

The International Halal Tourism Congress in Izmir underscored the global surge in interest in halal tourism, with experts foreseeing substantial progress by 2030.

 

The event convened academics, industry leaders, and experts to deliberate on Halal tourism matters. (Daily Sabah)

 

UAE

Islamic Tourism Centre returns to the ATM 2024 to captivate Middle East region

The Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC), operating under Malaysia's ministry of tourism, arts, and culture, actively promotes the nation's exemplary Muslim-friendly tourism at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2024 in Dubai.

 

ITC's participation, situated at the Malaysia Pavilion, underscores its commitment to showcasing Muslim-friendly attractions. (Zawya)

 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong seeks to expand halal food options to draw Muslim tourists

Hong Kong aims to become more Muslim-friendly by expanding its halal food offerings to attract tourists from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Muslim-majority regions in mainland China.

 

"We would like to attract more of the entire Muslim travel market… We hope they will come to Hong Kong, and then perhaps venture further into mainland China," said Hong Kong Tourism Board executive director Dane Cheng during a recent visit to Dubai. (Straits Time)

 

Philippines

Philippines to develop halal travel offerings in top resort island

The Philippines is enhancing halal-friendly options in its resort island of Boracay to attract more Muslim visitors.

 

Boracay, located in Aklan province, is renowned for its white sand beaches and coral reefs, making it one of the world's most famous islands.

 

Tourism, a vital sector for the Philippines, is seeing efforts by the country to ensure Muslim visitors have access to halal products and services. (Arab News)

 

Taiwan / Malaysia

Taiwan expands Malaysia outreach, targets Muslim travellers

The Taiwan Tourism Administration’s Kuala Lumpur Office has expanded its promotional efforts in Malaysia, shifting from a focus on local Chinese communities to targeting Malaysia’s Muslim population, which makes up over 60% of the country.

 

Many hotels, restaurants, and shops in Taiwan are now certified as Muslim-friendly, enhancing Taiwan's appeal as a destination for Muslim tourists from Malaysia. (Travel and Tour World)

 

Technology


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia to test flying taxis, drones this Hajj season: Minister

During this year's Hajj season, Saudi Arabia's minister of transport and logistic services, Saleh al-Jasser, announced plans to test flying taxis and drones. 

 

Al-Jasser highlighted intense competition among transportation firms to offer viable solutions in the near future, signaling a potential shift in transportation methods for pilgrims. (Al Arabiya News)

 

OIC Economies
OIC wrap: Qatar, Morocco review trade, investment ties

Here's a roundup of key developments across the OIC network during the first two weeks of May

Editor's note: Qatar is looking to ramp up bilateral ties with OIC countries. Proof? Its officials discussed cooperation in trade and investment with Moroccan authorities. Qatari and Omani officials also met to discuss matters of mutual interest.

Trade Developments


Egypt / Pakistan

Al Baraka Group launches portal to boost Egyptian, Pakistani cooperation

Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG), listed on Bahrain Bourse and the Egyptian Exchange, has launched an inter-franchise collaboration portal to boost business opportunities for customers in Egypt and Pakistan.

 

This initiative aims to strengthen ties between Pakistani exporters and Egyptian importers, enhancing communication and supporting commercial endeavors. (Zawya)

 

Qatar / Morocco

Qatar, Morocco review trade, investment ties

Qatari commerce and industry minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim Al Thani, held discussions with Moroccan minister of industry and trade, Ryad Mezzour, on enhancing bilateral cooperation in trade, investment, and industry.

 

He also met with Malaysian minister of investment, trade, and industry, Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

 

Both meetings highlighted Qatar’s economic policies, incentives, legislation, and investment opportunities aimed at attracting investors and supporting the private sector. (The Peninsula)

 

Saudi Arabia / Nigeria

Saudi Arabia, Nigeria discuss agricultural cooperation and food security

Saudi environment, water, and agriculture minister Abdulrahman Alfadley met with Nigeria’s minister of agriculture and food security Sen. Abubakar Kyari during his visit to Nigeria.

 

The ministers explored cooperation across various sectors, emphasizing agricultural collaborations and the potential benefits of shared agricultural resources and food products for both countries. (Saudi Gazette)

 

Saudi Arabia / Azerbaijan

Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan issue statement on energy cooperation

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman met with his Azerbaijani counterpart Parviz Shahbazov in Baku, resulting in a joint statement, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

 

Both countries reaffirmed their dedication to oil market stability and sustainability, aligning with OPEC Plus and global climate goals.  (Al Aswat)

 

Oman / Qatar

Oman, Qatar explore means of boosting cooperation, exchanging expertise

Sayyid Saud Hilal Al Busaidi, governor of Muscat, met with Abdullah Hamad Al Attiya, Qatar's minister of municipality, and his delegation to enhance bilateral cooperation.

 

They discussed matters of mutual interest, shared experiences, and highlighted projects. Both officials emphasized the importance of cooperation and expertise exchange.  (Zawya)

 

Malaysia / Kyrgyz Republic

Malaysia, Kyrgyz Republic place importance on cooperation in halal industry

Malaysia and the Kyrgyz Republic emphasized the importance of cooperation in developing the halal industry, recognizing its global economic significance and potential for economic growth.

 

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov expressed their commitment to enhancing the halal industry through collaboration between relevant agencies. (New Straits Times)

 

Mauritania

IsDB, Mauritania sign partnership framework agreement

President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser signed a partnership framework agreement with Mauritania’s Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Abdesselam Ould Mohamed Saleh.

 

The agreement aims to support Mauritania’s efforts towards economic transformation. (Zawya)

 

Saudi Arabia / Qatar

Saudi Arabia and Qatar sign tax rules agreement

Saudi Arabia and Qatar signed an agreement to avoid double taxation and prevent tax evasion.

 

During the signing ceremony in Doha, Al-Jadaan emphasized that the agreement aims to strengthen legislative coordination between the two countries, boost bilateral trade, and attract investment, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

 

Al-Kuwari highlighted the agreement's significance and its role in ensuring transparency by exchanging financial information, as both nations collaborate on taxation and economic relations.   (Arab News)

 

Trade Developments


Spain / Norway / Ireland

OIC welcomes Spain, Norway, and Ireland’s recognition of the state of Palestine

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) welcomed the decision of Spain, Norway, and Ireland to recognize the State of Palestine.

 

The OIC noted that this historic step aligns with international law and United Nations resolutions, affirming the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and enhancing Palestine's status internationally.(OIC ORG)

 


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