The global market for halal goods is growing at an annual rate of $500 billion and is now worth $2.1trn, according to experts.
Shariah-compliant products have developed from a niche market to a complete industry, said Hesham Belweil, international business development manager at the Halal Development Corporation (HDC) of Malaysia.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the three-day Halal World Expo, which opened at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre yesterday. Global demand for products, which include pharmaceutical, cosmetics, toiletries, food and beverages, account for the present rates of annual growth, Belweil told Emirates Business. The rest of the industry was made up of Islamic banking, mutual funds and endowments, and services in consumer product and financial sectors, all of which were experiencing similar levels of growth.
“Halal is today among the world’s fastest growing global businesses with a built-in base of two billion Muslims across the world,” he said. “It is also an emerging market force that is attracting non-Muslims with its hygienic and contamination-free principles in food production. The industry with these qualities and clean financial services is also reaching out to millions of non-Muslims.”
The halal expert said most of the people incorrectly believe halal refers only to meat prepared according to Islamic law. “When we say halal, we always think of meat. The fast-growing halal industry includes all the consumer products and financial services. For instance, Islamic banking and financial services in compliance with Shariah and of course, it can be food, products like body care and cosmetics and textile materials. Halal for these products means they should be free of ingredients that are not in compliance with Islamic teachings.”
He urged Gulf and other Middle Eastern countries to help promote the industry. The Middle East has been positioned as the largest consumer of halal products, with countries like the UAE taking in 80 per cent of the imports of halal food products from Brazil and Australia.
Halal cosmetics have also captured a huge market across the Middle East. The category, according to exhibitors at the expo, has grown by 12 per cent annually and it was estimated the total value of related sales in the region reached $12.1bn (Dh44bn) in 2006.
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