Wednesday, Jan 09, 2013
Dubai: Dubaiâs business community is urging the government to set up an Islamic economic hub that would integrate a range of sharia-compliant products from finance to food.
The time for this is now, just on the heels of the announcement to set up an Islamic economy in Dubai, they said on Wednesday.
The city could include manufacturers and traders of halal products including food, financial instruments, halal standardization bodies, cosmetics, dry hotels and exhibitions promoting halal productsâforming a complete Islamic economic hub similar to the industrial and financial hubs Dubai has created, industrialists said.
âSo many initiatives have been proposed about creating a hub for Islamic products but this did not go forward because of the financial crisis. But I think this would be the right time to take it forward,â said Saleh Lootah, managing director of Al Islami Foods, which has been involved with halal food since 1981.
Dubai has long realized the massive business potential of catering to Muslim consumers. Dubai Islamic Bank, that was set up in 1975, is one of the first modern Islamic banking systems in the UAE and, it claims, in the world.
Dubaiâs plan to create and Islamic finance council to regulate shariah-compliant equity and fixed-income products will âfurther strengthen Dubaiâs position as an international financial hub,â said Afaq Khan, Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Saadiq.
âIslamic finance has grown significantly over the past few years and has played a key role in the development of the financial industry as a whole,â he said.
The move towards an Islamic economy means developing commercial standards for Islamic industriesâincluding cosmetics.
âThey [Dubai] will have resistance from big companies and big brands. It will be seen as a protection act for the economy. It is hard for companies to turn halal to enter the market. From my point of view I like idea because thatâs what we as Muslims wantâ that what we consume is halalâbut it will be difficult for big companies to change their production lines,â said Anna Maria Tiozzo, president of the World Halal Development organization in Italy.
The market for halal personal care products in the Middle is estimated to be worth approximately $560 million.
There is also a major appetite for halal food products in Dubai. The halal food and products trade is expected to grow rapidly from $3.6 billion in 2010 to $8.4 billion in 2020,â said Dr Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water. Halal food products estimated to contitute 20 per cent of total food value by 2025.
The UAE was selected as chair of the first technical committee for Halal food standards set up by Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) at a recent meeting in Turkey.
The move towards an Islamic economy will bring some unification to the process of certifying halal products, as various countries have different standards, Lootah said.
By Deena Kamel Yousef, Staff Reporter
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