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HALAL ECONOMY

Russia To Increase Halal Meat Export To the Middle East

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Russia is planning to increase its Halal meat exports to the Middle East by 6 folds in the next eight years

Russian exports of halal products to Persian Gulf countries and Egypt could grow by more than six times by 2030 compared to 2020 data, the head of strategic communications and product promotion at Russia’s Agroexport Center, Andrei Kucherov has stated.

“Russia exported US$116 million worth of Halal products to these countries in 2020. The share of confectionary products was 59%, and meat products accounted for 40%. It is expected that the number of Russian exports of halal products to these countries will exceed US$700 million in 2030”

He said meat products have particular potential. “The meat industry in Russia is actively developing. About 20 million Muslims live in Russia, which creates domestic demand for halal meat. Halal meat production in Russia is now 10% of Russia’s total production of poultry, beef, and sheep meat.”

The key markets for Russian Halal exports are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,  Saudi Arabia imports over US$1.2 billion worth of meat products, US$670 million of dairy products, and more than US$1.1 billion in confectionary products, while the UAE imports over US$800 million of meat products and more than US$300 million of dairy products, Kucherov said.

“To realize the export potential of Russian Halal products, Agroexport initiated the development of a strategy to promote these products in the Middle East and North Africa. We concluded that there’s no point in promoting Russian Halal products as halal in this region. The consumer there already believes all products are Halal,” Kucherov said.

“Therefore, promotion should be built on a system of a nationwide Halal certification system and branding image. The instruments needed for the certification system to work well are traceability and the existence of reliable Halal certification bodies inside the country,” he said.

Promotion of Halal products could get an additional push by creating a national umbrella brand, he said. Consumers in Saudi Arabia, for example, know little about Russian Halal products and do not have an image of Russia as a food producer, he said.

“In this situation, launching a national umbrella brand could help raise awareness and establish a firm positive image of Russian food among Saudi consumers,” Kucherov said.

The Middle East and North Africa market for Halal food products total US$441 billion per year, the center said in its presentation. Global demand for such products is estimated at US$1.3 trillion-US$1.4 trillion per year, and it could grow to US$1.7 trillion-US$2 trillion by 2025.

Demand for Russian Halal products is not only growing in the Middle East, but also in China and other markets in Asia such as India,  IndonesiaMalaysia, and Thailand, as Halal is seen as a sign of quality and safety by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.


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HALAL ECONOMY

Muslim-Friendly Tourism is the Next Big Opportunity for Malaysia

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Global Muslim-friendly tourism is projected to contribute significantly to international tourism, with an estimated 230 million Muslim travelers expected to spend around $225 billion by 2028. Recognizing this immense potential, many popular destinations are introducing innovative offerings to attract Muslim tourists. Malaysia, already a preferred destination, stands to benefit greatly from this trend, provided it capitalizes on the opportunity and addresses rising competition from neighboring countries.

Muslim tourists currently make up about 20% of Malaysia’s total tourist arrivals, contributing approximately RM14.7 billion to the local economy in 2023. However, countries like Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand are aggressively promoting their Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality (MFTH) products and services, posing a competitive challenge for Malaysia.

In response to the increasing competition and to tap into the vast potential of Muslim tourists, the Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC), under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture (MOTAC), is enhancing its efforts to strengthen Malaysia’s position as a top Muslim-friendly destination. ITC has introduced the Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality Assurance and Recognition (MFAR) and the Muslim-Friendly Tourist Guide (MFTG) programs to ensure the quality of products and services, boost tourist confidence, and open new market opportunities.

Launched in 2019, MFAR is the first government-backed recognition for businesses offering Muslim-friendly services in various areas such as tourist accommodations, spas, medical facilities, travel management, transportation hubs, shopping centers, and entertainment parks. ITC sees these standards as essential for attracting Muslim travelers and enhancing their experience in Malaysia.

Nizran Noordin, ITC director-general, stated, “Just like how Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia’s (JAKIM) halal certification has been helpful for Muslims in their decision-making regarding food and consumer goods, MFAR aims to provide the same recognition for tourism products and services.” The goal is to optimize tourists’ satisfaction and experience, enabling them to explore Malaysia’s cultural and natural attractions confidently.

The MFAR program not only assures the quality of Muslim-friendly services but also serves as a marketing tool to communicate the availability of amenities such as prayer facilities, halal food, and water for ablution. While emphasizing Muslim-friendly tourism, MFAR recognition does not exclude non-Muslim patrons, ensuring inclusivity.

The MFTG program recognizes MOTAC-licensed tourist guides who have completed ITC’s training and passed assessments on understanding the Muslim tourist market. This initiative aims to enhance the quality of services provided to Muslim tourists.

Malaysia has consistently topped the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) since its inception in 2015. In 2023, Malaysia was named “Muslim-Friendly Destination of the Year” and “Muslim Women-Friendly Destination of the Year” at the Halal in Travel Awards. These accolades highlight Malaysia’s strong transport infrastructure, communication proficiency, ease of entry for travelers, safety, extensive halal dining options, and the availability of prayer places and Muslim-friendly accommodations.

With the upcoming Visit Malaysia Year 2026, the country targets 35.6 million tourist arrivals and RM147.1 billion in receipts. MOTAC aims to position Malaysia as an Umrah hub for Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania, further increasing Muslim tourist arrivals. Nizran Noordin emphasized that the growth of the Muslim tourist market could sustain various sectors such as banking, finance, and insurance through offerings like payment gateways, digital wallets, and travel insurance tailored for Muslim tourists.

To facilitate the application for MFAR recognition, ITC has developed a rating system where businesses can achieve silver, gold, or platinum recognition based on their level of commitment and compliance with the guidelines. Nizran Noordin expressed hope that industry players will adopt these recognitions to provide greater assurance to Muslim tourists, especially as Malaysia prepares to become an Umrah hub.

The potential for Muslim-friendly tourism in Malaysia is immense. By leveraging strategic initiatives and addressing competitive challenges, Malaysia can solidify its position as a leading destination for Muslim travelers, driving economic growth and enhancing its global standing. For the latest updates on Malaysia’s tourism initiatives, follow official announcements from the Islamic Tourism Centre and MOTAC.


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HALAL ECONOMY

Pilgrims Remain Bedrock of Saudi Tourism Plans

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By Andrew Hammond

Saudi tourism is to undergo a massive expansion with religious travellers remaining its bedrock – but some hotel operators are wary of an overheated market.

The kingdom is aiming to bring in 150 million visitors per year by 2030, with tourism accounting for 10 percent of non-oil GDP, playing a key role in its economic transformation plan valued at $1.25 trillion.

The Saudi Tourism Authority displayed the country’s offerings – from the futuristic luxury resorts in Neom, to wellness holidays in AlUla and mountain climbing in Aseer – at this year’s Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. 

The plans include an additional 320,000 hotel rooms by 2030 according to property consultant Knight Frank, with more than half of them expected to be in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

“Knight Frank’s analysis of hotel supply in Mecca and Medina reveals a significant figure of 221,000 hotel rooms announced, planned or under construction,” said the consultancy. Super-rich Muslims are also seeking homes there. It added that of the 320,000 extra hotel rooms, 251,500 will be in the luxury and upscale brackets, raising the share of high-end hotels from 66 to 72 percent of the total.

The high percentage of religious tourism is telling. As the location of the annual Hajj pilgrimage and the year-round pilgrimage known as Umrah, Saudi Arabia can be sure to attract a solid base of these visitors who still account for nearly 50 percent of tourism.

Pilgrimage tour and hotel operators say the opening up of the visa system since 2019 and the end of restrictions on businesses requiring a local partner have revolutionised the sector.

“The strategy for 2030 means they need pilgrims from everywhere,” said Ahmed Saber, CEO of Indonesia-based Diar Al Manasik International.

“Before it was difficult to get the visa, difficult to get the package. But now it’s easy, you can go online.

“Businesses used to need a Saudi partner but now you can bring your company from outside and start business (registering) with the government,” he said, adding he had set up new offices in nine countries over the past year offering pilgrim tours.

Earlier this year the government began offering visas on arrival for pilgrims who are resident in the EU, US and UK or who possess a valid visa for those countries. Nationals of Australia, Canada, China, Malaysia, Norway, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand and Turkey can receive an Umrah visa on arrival.

The Saudi market is so frenzied that few hoteliers seem to worry about cannibalisation amid the plethora of projects underway.

Red Sea Global, a key tourism-focused giga-project, says it will have 79 hotels by 2030. Neom is to host at least 12 resorts. Even cutting edge mall projects like Cenomi Central’s Jawharat Riyadh, which is due to open in 2027, will contain hotels.

Mandarin Oriental, which has only one luxury hotel in Riyadh among a number across the Gulf, is taking a cautious approach in contrast to some brands.

“Whilst we want to expand in Saudi Arabia, we are probably not on that progressive trajectory like some other luxury players,” said Michael Koth, general manager of the Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental in Abu Dhabi.

“I dont think on a global scale it’s the only country one wants to invest in, but it’s one of the countries one needs to invest in. Other luxury operators have chosen to do it differently.”


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HALAL ECONOMY

HLISB Introduces BizHalal To Support SMEs in the Global Halal Market

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In a significant move to empower Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) navigating the lucrative global Halal market, Hong Leong Islamic Bank (HLISB) has introduced BizHalal. This innovative, Shariah-compliant banking solution is designed to provide both financial support and Halal advisory services, aligning with Malaysia’s strategic vision to expand its Halal ecosystem.

What is BizHalal?

BizHalal is more than just a financial product; it’s a partnership between HLISB and the Halal Development Corporation (HDC), solidified through a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This collaboration underscores HLISB’s dedication to fostering growth and development within the Halal industry.

Strategic Goals and Historical Context

HLISB CEO, Dafinah Ahmed Hilmi, reflected on the bank’s ongoing commitment to the Halal sector since 2018 and expressed enthusiasm about how BizHalal will further stimulate the expansion of local Halal SMEs. The service package includes tailored financing solutions and expert advisory services, ensuring businesses are well-equipped to thrive in this dynamic market.

Market Potential and Economic Impact

The global Halal market, valued at USD 3 trillion in 2020, continues to grow, with projections placing Malaysia’s Halal industry at US$113.2 billion by 2030. Despite this potential, a gap remains between the market demand and supply, highlighting the critical need for increased investment and collaboration to tap into this burgeoning sector.

Partnership Impact

HDC Chairman, Khairul Azwan Harun, emphasized the importance of strategic partnerships like that of HLISB and HDC in closing the market gap and cultivating local Halal champions. These collaborations are pivotal in ensuring the sustainability and global competitiveness of Malaysia’s Halal SMEs.

Technological Integration

Acknowledging the role of technology, HDC has introduced the Halal Integrated Platform (HIP), which simplifies the certification process and enhances the operational efficiency of Malaysia’s Halal ecosystem. This digital approach not only streamlines operations but also broadens the accessibility of Halal certification for SMEs.

Support and Advisory Services

Under BizHalal, HLISB’s Halal Industry Specialists provide comprehensive support to customers. This includes a readiness assessment, advisory assistance, and integration into the Halal Digital Ecosystem. These services are crucial for both existing Halal-certified businesses and new entrants aspiring to obtain certification.

Inclusivity and Accessibility

BizHalal is accessible to all HLISB customers, supporting both current Halal-certified businesses and those seeking to achieve certification. Additionally, customers who avail of HLISB’s business financing facilities will automatically qualify for the BizHalal program, making it easier for SMEs to join and benefit from this initiative.

With the introduction of BizHalal, HLISB reaffirms its commitment to supporting the growth of SMEs in the global Halal market. This initiative not only aligns with Malaysia’s economic goals but also serves as a catalyst for the development of a robust, sustainable Halal ecosystem that can lead on the international stage.

This rewrite not only incorporates the key phrase “HLISB Introduces BizHalal To Support SMEs in the Global Halal Market” effectively for SEO but also enhances the article’s relevance and informative nature, making it more engaging for readers interested in Islamic finance and the Halal industry.


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