The third Halal Middle East Congress aims to create awareness about issues in halal trade and find opportunities for the UAE market to flourish.

ABU DHABI // An annual halal conference taking place in Sharjah next week will tackle the challenge of varying standards around the world, which pose trade barriers to the development of the industry.

The third Halal Middle East Congress, being held at the emirate’s Expo Centre from Monday until Wednesday, aims to create awareness about issues in halal trade and find opportunities for the UAE market to flourish.

“We see many examples where a country has good halal standards and producing halal certified products, while another country has the demand of the same halal products and also has the money to buy them, but the trade doesn’t happen, as the producing and buying countries have different halal standards,” said Asad Sajjad, the secretary general of the Halal Development Council.

“For example, the different halal standards between Singapore and Malaysia or between Malaysia and Pakistan.”

Mr Sajjad said the solution was obvious. “Member countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have to realise the problem, understand the issue and sit together to work on one halal standard for the world, which is backed by one halal test that is accepted by all countries, with one halal logo that is recognised and accepted by all.”

“Another challenge is the lack of awareness regarding the potential of halal trade and opportunities.”

Most Muslim countries, including the GCC states, still relate halal only to meat and chicken slaughter and do not accept the fact that all food and non-food products and services are included in the global halal umbrella.

Mr Sajjad said this restricted them from properly promoting halal in their countries. “So despite the fact that they may have a lot of products that can be halal certified and exported under the halal brand, they don’t promote halal certification and hence are not able to take any share or have a nominal share in the huge halal market,” he said.

“The solution to this challenge is in the hands of the OIC governments who have to understand this issue and organise activities in their countries to create awareness.”

The congress’ main theme this year will be ‘halal branding opening doors to the trillion-dollar market’. Participating countries include the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Malaysia, Turkey and Pakistan, among others. Saif Al Midfa, the Expo Centre’s chief executive, said he expected about 200 delegates with more than 150 exhibitors from countries around the world.

Twenty-six countries took part last year. This year’s plan is to include halal food, beverages, ingredients, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, Islamic finance and tourism in the programme.

cmalek@thenational.ae

Published: December 5, 2014 04:00 AM

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