Tuesday, December 31, 2013

UAE: Halal food gains momentum

The halal food industry is gaining momentum in conventional and non-conventional markets across the globe due to its hygienic and safety qualities, say exhibitors at second OIC Halal Middle East Exhibition and Congress.
The industry stakeholders said investors are increasingly looking opportunities to make investments in halal food products to capitalise growth in this untapped market across many geographies. They also hailed various initiated launched by the UAE government to promote halal industry and said Dubai has strong potential to become the capital of Islamic economy in coming years.
The three-day exhibition and congress attracted exhibitors from non-conventional halal food markets like Italy, South Korea, Russia and Japan, among others. They were upbeat about the outlook of halal food market even in those countries where Muslims are in minority. Over 125 exhibitors and 200 delegates are attending the three-day event, which concluded on Wednesday.
“Halal food is picking up in Italy and we are confident of its success in the country because of its popularity even in non-Muslim population,” Mansur Giuseppe Baudo, audit manager at Halal Italia, told Khaleej Times.
He said Halal Italia is the Italian organisation for Islamic certification and it is also recognised from UAE’s Ministry of Environment and Water and Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura — Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.
“The UAE ministry issued a decree in 2012 to recognise Halal Italia certification, and now our certification is acceptable in all other countries of Gulf Cooperation Council including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain,” he said.
Baudo said halal food is very popular in Italy and playing a key role in establishing close relations between East and West.
bits_12182013Echoed the same views from another non-conventional market, Korea Halal Association advisor Jo Young Chan said halal food prospects are bright in the country. “Our association is a non-profit body that has been formed to provide a common platform to stakeholders in Korea halal industry,” he said.
Chan said the association right now has only 10 members, but due to growing popularity and demand of halal products he is confident of about 200 to 300 members in next five years. “
Halal food industry is growing rapidly in Korea despite low Muslim population and the association will start issuing its own halal certification from next year,” he said.
The exhibitors from Muslim nations are also buoyant about the future of halal food industry and said enormous opportunities exist in this fast growing segment. They underlined the need to uniform standards for halal certifications to realise the true potential of halal trade even in conventional markets of Muslim majority population countries.
“Halal food is progressing well and we see a promising outlook for the industry in coming years,” said Darningsih Rustiadji, director at Indonesian firm Deka Adiguna.
She said Indonesia is a big potential market for halal food and demand for halal products is on the rise as people are more cautious about edibles and shifting towards halal items.
“Halal food is not only for Muslims, it is getting popular even in non-conventional markets in Europe and Asia as we secure orders for our products from Netherlands, Korea and Japan,” she said, and adding that there is need to explore markets in South America.
Rustiadji said Middle East is a big potential market for Indonesian halal food products. “We have more than 100 halal products and secured reasonable orders from Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” she said.
Hamed Abedian, commercial manager at Iran’s Sefid Goosht Hamoon Company, said halal food future is good due to its growing demand and awareness in major markets. “We deal in fresh and frozen fish, chicken and beef. We are participating in the exhibition for the first time and hope to get good business,” he said.
Abedian appreciated the halal exhibition and congress to promote the halal food products and called for more strenuous efforts to explore new markets across the world.

Source: halalfocus.net

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Halal Industry Thrives In Russia

CAIRO – Foreseeing a bright future for halal industry, a growing number of Russian Muslims have led demands for uniform standards for halal products and certification in their country.
“The halal food industry is growing in double-digit numbers in Russia,” Madina Kalimullina, director of the Economic Department of Russia Muftis Council, told Khaleej Times on Monday, December 23.
“Annually, we certify more than 40 enterprises in different spheres of production.”
“The present stage of the halal industry development can be considered as mutual acquaintance and deeper knowledge of each other among certification bodies,” said Kalimullina, who is also a director of Moscow Halal Expo.Over the past three years, the Russian Muslims have been calling for issuing common standards for halal food production.
“The efforts of the Standards and Metrology Institute for the Islamic Countries (SMIIC) to work out common standards for halal production started in 2011 are likely to give results in the coming years.
“Based on commonly-recognized standards, system of audit, constant research and innovations, the halal industry, by the will of Allah, has the ability to become the world brand of healthy, ecological and safe products and services.
“In the coming years the issues of logistics, regulation, customs clearance and distribution would be put on the agenda more often as the concept of halal will require new routes in the international trade,” she said.
According to Kalimullina, the OIC has exclusively the right to unite views on uniform standards for halal certificates.
“The issue, however is complicated due to different mazhabs and business practice,” Kalimullina, who holds a PhD in economics, noted.
“At the same time, unanimous efforts of Muslims around the world are sure to result in a deeper integration and development of halal production, trade and investment.”
The concept of halal, -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Now other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
Halal Expo
In a bid to attract new investors to the growing halal market, the Russia Muftis Council (RMC) launched the project of Moscow Halal Expo in 2010.
“Their [native Muslims’] number now exceeds 25 million,” Kalimullina, the director of Moscow Halal Expo said.
“Apart from that number we have 10 million Muslim work migrants from CIS countries that form the demand for halal products; although they are from a low income group, but the demand is massive.
The success of halal food industry was not limited to Russian Muslims.
“Another big group of consumers are non-Muslims, who choose halal for its quality,” Kalimullina said.
Thee halal food industry has been one of the RMC' priorities.
In 2002, it established the centre for Halal Standardization and Certification.
By 2011, the administrative structure of RMC has formed the Economic Department for the council.
“In general, there is a plan of umma economic development worked out by the RMC Economic department which includes the enlightenment in the sphere of Islamic business ethics and Islamic finance, halal certification system development, educational courses, translation into Russian language of the international Shari’ah standards in Islamic finance adopted by the AAOIFI, support is halal business and Islamic finance companies, Business Development Club, and, finally, Moscow Halal Expo,” Kalimullina explained.
“Now, we direct efforts at development of new business and investment projects in halal sphere. Presently the most important of which is the chain of halal distribution chain all over Russia.”
The Russian Federation is home to some 23 million Muslims in the north of the Caucasus and southern republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.
Islam is Russia's second-largest religion representing roughly 15 percent of its 145 million predominantly Orthodox population.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Spain Regulates Halal Food

CAIRO – In a bid to normalize, regulate and control the Halal market in Spain, the Cordoba-based Halal Institute has cooperated with the Spanish standardization authority to develop new regulations related to the growing halal market.
“This is the first time that a Technical Committee on Standardization, addresses technical and religious aspects,” a press release obtained by OnIslam.net quoted Hanif Escudero, the director of Halal Standardization, as saying.
In a meeting held last week, the Halal Institute of the Islamic Board of Spain, based in Cordoba, together with the Spanish Association for Standardization and Certification (AENOR), to agree on the recently developed standardization activity related to halal food.

Escudero noted that the Technical Committee on Standardization AEN/CTN 308 'Halal' is the body created for this activity, whose Secretariat functions will be carried out by the Halal Institute, on behalf of the Islamic Board of Spain.The meeting was held with the support of the main Islamic federations, consumers, manufacturers and the Administration.
The Halal Institute is the Islamic and scientific organization dedicated to normalize, regulate and control the Halal market in Spain.
Escudero added that the Halal Institute of the Islamic Board was the driving force behind the development and signing of the Cooperation Agreements of 1992 (26/1992) and the registrant of the Guarantee Mark Halal (2466790 M 0. Halal).
It is, as has been pointed out, “a global concept that refers to the set of practices and behaviors that are acceptable according to the Shariah/Islamic Law,” he added.
In addition, as indicated by the responsible for the Halal Institute, the normalization process now begun also implies a historical event.
“In the sense that, after 20 years since the signing of the Cooperation Agreements (26/1992), it seems that the subject of Halal will be the first aspect in which there will be a normative progress,” the press release said.
“In other words, we now have an example to follow in aspects that the Cooperation Agreement itself restricts or even left undefined.”
Spain has a Muslim minority of 1.4 million, making up about 3 percent of the country’s population, according to the Islamic Commission of Spain.
Islam is the second religion in Spain after Christianity and has been recognized through the 1967 law of religious freedom.
Growing Market
The new agreement was passed as the halal market continues to hit new successes in the Spanish market.
“The Halal market, at international level, grows by 10/12%, while in Spain has a main consumer segment close to two million consumers, and a market revenue of 620 million euros generated by more than 240 industries, with 500 certified products and more than 600 retail stores,” the responsible of the Halal Institute said.
In the meantime, Aenor technical committees of normalization working bodies announced their willingness to the participation of all interested parties to develop the referred UNE Standards, which are voluntary and demanded by society.
In this sense, the first objective of this new Technical Committee on Halal Standardization “will consist in following-up to a European standard draft on Halal food requirements, the use of additives, animal slaughter and welfare, the traceability or labeling.”
In addition to the follow-up of this European project, the Halal Institute, as Hanif Escudero has pointed out, “has brought up the idea of organizing several working groups to assume other areas, as is the case of beverages, tourism, cosmetics or finances. Emerging sectors in which Spain must also be a reference.”
Another of the reasons for organizing various working groups is that the Committee of the Whole 'is a broad, representative and also diverse body.
The director of Halal Standardization has concluded that, “the working groups are a necessary tool in order to take advantage of the working meetings and all the efforts and dedication put in by the members of the Committee.”
The concept of halal, -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Now other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
Halal food is consumed not only by 1.5 billion Muslims around the world, but also by at least 500 million non-Muslims in the $2 billion global industry.


Friday, December 27, 2013

"A Big Question Mark on Islamic Finance Industry", Muhammad Zubair Mughal

Apparently, it is a matter of pleasure that global volume of Islamic Finance Industry has crossed $ 1.3 Trillion approximately, which is, definitely, providing the best and compatible sources of finance with interest free modes. According to a careful estimate, there are more than 2000 Islamic Financial Institutions are offering Islamic Banking, Islamic Insurance (Takaful), Islamic Funds, Mudaraba, Islamic Bonds (Sukuk), Islamic Microfinance and some other institutions actively providing Islamic financial services on different modes in adherence of Shari’ah principles of Islamic Finance. If we look into the market share of above mentioned institutions, we get shocked and depressed for a while with the fact that Islamic Banking and Finance has been nearly confined to the rich people and as per the ideology of capitalism, the profit urge has captured the Islamic Financial Industry and discriminated the underprivileged people and letting them deprived from Islamic financial services. Keeping in view these facts, it should be said as the commercialism has captured Islamic Finance institutions in such a way that business with and financing to the poor has gone astray from their agenda.

According to the facts and figures (March-2013) by Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), (an associated institution to the World Bank), the global volume of Islamic Microfinance has reached at USD 800 million with serving about 1.3 million beneficiaries. While as per the latest research (July-2013) conducted by AlHuda Centre of Excellence in Islamic Microfinance, the global volume of Islamic Microfinance has reached at $ 1 billion. Total number of Islamic Microfinance Institutions is more than 300, operating around the globe while the share of Islamic Microfinance is less than 1% from the overall volume of $ 1.3 trillion of Islamic Finance Industry, which, itself, is a big question mark on Islamic finance industry and proving its misfortune. These stated facts and figures give rise to different question such as: is social segmentation between poor and rich 1% : 99% ? Does Islamic Finance have financial resources only for the rich people? Not for the Poor? Is Islamic Finance an option only for the particular segment of society? Is it justice system of Islam? etc, whereas the answers to all these questions are in negative and awful, definitely.

As per the analysis of Islamic Finance in the light of Islamic teachings, we get into, the Islamic ideology of finance which aims at justice, cooperation, welfare of the poor and financially deprived people of society with its best principles. Islam is a name of revolution starting from poor and will ending at same. If we have a look at comparative study of different religions regarding the view point of poverty, then we come to know that poverty alleviation is not only the social responsibility in Islam rather a religious obligation as well. Zakat, Charity, Sadqa, Fitr, Usher and Qarz-e-Hasan etc are amongst the key religious responsibilities of Muslims, whereas it is a social responsibility in other religions rather than a religious one which recognized as branded name of “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR), and they doing good work for poverty alleviation and social development in the whole world, but unfortunately, Islamic Financial Industry have ignored its social or religious responsibilities.

If we look at the world poverty, we get surprising facts and figures. The 46% of whole world poverty exists in Muslim World while Muslim population in the world is 26%. United Nations have marked 26 out of 57 member countries of OIC, as the least developed countries. Current statistical information is highlighting that the poverty in the Muslim World is increasing day by day which is, as per the serious observation, caused by none or least response of poor people to Microfinance facilities because of interest, none or limited Islamic Micro Financing facilities provided by Islamic Financial Institutions and the least attention and interest of International Donor Agencies (UNDP, World Bank, IFC) towards Islamic Microfinance which, in return, is throwing the Muslim world into an era of poverty.

As per the praiseworthy analysis of economics experts of modern age (Mr. Tariq Ullah and Mr. Ubaid Ullah 2008), 650 million Muslims in the world are living below poverty line with less than $ 2/ per day income. While on the other hand, only the 1.3 million Muslims out of 650 million were tried to get them out of poverty through Islamic Microfinance services whereas remaining 649 million Muslim, living in poverty, are still looking forward any financial assistance through Islamic way. Islamic Finance Industry is facing lot of criticism in different aspects e.g. acceptability of Islamic Finance, objections from Shari’ah Scholars, Conflicts in Shari’ah related issues etc are the main challenges to Islamic Finance Industry. But objection to neglect the poor is very critical, once not resolved, can damage and bring a perpetual loss to the Islamic Banking and Finance Industry.

The optimal results for the economic prosperity of Islamic Finance can be ensured if Islamic Microfinance Institutions established by the Islamic Finance Industry. Although Islamic Microfinance can be energized by utilizing available charity amount of Islamic Banking and Finance industry which is worth in Million Dollars. Inter alia Zakat, Sadqaat, Waqf, other Islamic Microfinance products e.g Murabaha, Musharaka, Salam and Istisna etc can be used prolifically for poverty reduction and social development.

Our Shari’ah scholars are also responsible for insisting and pursuing the Islamic Financial Institutions to execute and promote Islamic Microfinance otherwise there is a definite chance of rumors that Islamic Banking and Finance services are only for rich people making discrimination of “Do Have and Have Not” and ensuring its ultimate benefits only to rich people.

( Muhammad Zubair Mughal as a Chief Executive Officer of AlHuda Centre of Islamic Banking and Economics (CIBE) has been working consistently for last nine (9) years for poverty alleviation through Islamic Microfinance concept; he can be reached at zubair.mughal@alhudacibe.com )

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Shariah and BLOM Bank

In the case of Investment Dar Co KSCC v Blom Developments Bank Sal, the Investment Dar (TID) was an investment company registered in Kuwait and the Blom Development Bank (BDB) was a bank incorporated in Lebanon. A wakalah investment agreement was entered into between the two parties governed by English law. The agreement provided that Blom deposit a certain amount of money with TID, appointing TID as its wakil (agent) to manage the money as an investment. When TID defaulted on payments under the wakalah agreement, BDB sued TID in the High Court of England and applied for summary judgment on the grounds of default in payment (claim in contract) and the deposits held in trust (claim in equity). The master found that there was an arguable defence to the contractual claim, but not to the trust claim due to a misunderstanding of Shariah and the application of common law to an Islamic finance transaction.

TID raised the defence of ultra vires. TID argued that the wakalah agreement, which was approved by its own Shariah board, did not comply with the Shariah and was therefore void and against TID's constitutional documents. Although within the wakalah arrangement some issues of Shariah non-compliancy arose, since the contract was approved by the TID Shariah Board and constituted a binding contract in both common and Islamic law with valid offer and acceptance. Thus, TID should have been held to the terms of the contract.

In terms of Islamic law, the Hanafis stipulated a valid offer and acceptance as the cornerstones of the agency contract. While the Hanafis restricted the contracts cornerstones to offer and acceptance or actions implying acceptance, the other jurists enumerated four cornerstones: (i) principal, (ii) agent, (iii) object of the agency contract, and (iv) the contract language. If the compensation is a ji'alah, whereby the task and the time period are not explicitly stated in the contract, then the majority of jurists agree that the contract is non-binding on the parties.

However, the Malikis ruled that the contract was, in this case, binding on the principal once the agent begins working. If the compensation renders the contract an ijarah, then the Hanafis and most Malikis ruled that the agency contract is thus binding. In contrast, the Shafis and Hanbalis ruled that the contract was still not binding in this case. In this instance, according to the Hanafis, the contract had valid offer and acceptance with principal and an agent consenting to the terms of the contract and initiating investment activity in the form of a wakalah. In addition, the wakalah contract appears to be an ijarah and thus valid and binding according to the Hanafis and Malikis.

According to the AAOIFI Shariah standard No. 23 (4/3) and as occurred in this case, "when agency is paid, involves the rights of others, when the agent commences tasks that cannot be discontinued or phased out without causing injury to him or to the principal, and/or when the principal or the agent undertakes not to revoke the contract within a certain period, it falls under the Shariah rulings on Ijarah and is binding." The judge ignored the valid and binding contract and the original contractual intent of the parties, applied western trust law to the wakalah arrangement, and unjustly ruled that TID was only liable to pay Blom the principle amount.

In the concerned wakalah arrangement, at the end of every wakalah period, TID was obligated to pay five percent profit to Blom . The issue arose when TID defaulted on payments of Blom 's principal and the agreed profits. Blom claimed that TID should pay it the principal deposits plus the contractually agreed five percent profit. However, TID argued that the agreement was not Shariah-compliant, being an agreement for deposit taking with interest, and therefore null, being ultra vires and beyond its legal capacity to conform. The Judge concurred and stated, "I agree...that where one finds, as one does in this master wakalah contract, a device to enable...the payment of interest under another guise, that is at least an indirect practice of a non-Shariah compliant activity." Due to constraints faced by the Islamic banking industry in terms of risk management, the reality of operating in a conventional system, and the need to compete, it is difficult to adhere to true Shariah banking at this moment in time[SO1] . It may be argued that in fact all Islamic banking products are devices to enable the payment of interest in another guise.

According to the AAOIFI Shariah Standard No. 5(2/2/2) on Guarantees, "it is not permissible to combine agency and personal guarantees in one contract at the same time, because such a combination conflicts with the nature of these contracts. In addition, a guarantee given by a party acting as an agent in respect of an investment, turns the transaction into an interest-based loan since the capital of the investment is guaranteed in addition to the proceeds of the investment (i.e. as though the investment agent had taken a loan and repaid it with an additional sum, which is tantamount to riba)." In this case, TID, as agent, also guaranteed Blom a five percent return. However, even if the wakalah agreement in question really was a loan with interest in disguise or a similar contraption, due to the fact that this agreement was approved by the TID Shariah board, TID should be held to the terms of the contract. TID should not be allowed to suddenly claim that the transaction is non-Shariah compliant in order to evade its contractual obligations to Blom Bank.

According to records, Jurists agree that an agent's possession is one of trust, analogous to deposits and similar to possessions. This ruling follows from the fact that the agent would possess goods as a legal representative of the principal (who is the owner). Thus, his possession is similar (but not the same) to that of a depository, following its rules for trust and guarantee. Under Shariah, TID was holding the five percent profit on trust for Blom as agent for principal even if the guarantee combined with agency is thought by some to have turned the wakalah into a deposit taking with interest or to have simulated an interest-bearing loan.

Although under Shariah, TID was technically only supposed to receive an agency fee, in this wakalaharrangement, TID was contractually to receive an agency fee plus all return above five percent, thus bearing risk of loss. In a proper wakalah arrangement, the principal bears all risk of loss and profit, while the agent only receives an agency fee. According to the AAOIFI Shariah Standard No. 21(4/2/c), "the amount payable as remuneration for agency should be known, whether in lump sum or as a share of a specific amount of income. It may also be defined in terms of an amount of income to be known in the future, as when remuneration is linked to an indicator that may be quoted at the beginnings of different intervals of time. However, it is not permissible to leave remuneration for agency undetermined and allow the agent to take an unspecified share from the entitlements of principal." In this arrangement, the agent was to take an unspecified share from the entitlements of the principal, being any amount of return above five percent. These Shariah issues were totally ignored by the judge. In this transaction, the judge misapplied Shariah law, ignored the reality of the Islamic finance and banking industry, and then judged the contracts in relation to Western trust law, unfairly ruling that Blom was only entitled to the principal amount.

The judge ordered an interim payment to be paid to Blom based on the fact that the contract was null and void (no trust) and that the transaction was ultra vires (non-Shariah compliant). The judge should have ruled thatBlom was entitled to the deposit amount plus any profit made up to a limit of five percent (if profit was made) rather than just the deposit amount. TID ultimately withdrew the case.

About: Camille Paldi is associate with Alhuda-CIBE, She is a legal expert and founder of FAAIF Limited as well as the popular ilovetheuae.com. In addition to being a qualified Islamic finance specialist with a Masters Degree in Islamic finance from Durham University (UK), Camille is also a lawyer in four countries and nine jurisdictions around the world and has received legal training in common, civil, and Shariah law in six countries spanning five continents.

Source: Zawya

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pakistan all set to capture international halal food products market

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) is all set to take steps to foster halal industry of Pakistan and to capture the international Halal products market worth US$ 3 trillion.
An inter-ministerial meeting would soon be convened in this regard, to expedite the progress on Halal food and making the industry compliant to international standards.
“There is strong need of developing standards and enacting a law to advertise our Halal products, and will boost our export especially in Middle East and Europe”, a Ministry official told APP.
He said Pakistan needs Halal professionals because globalization of food trade and increased consumer awareness regarding food safety standards contribute towards new demands for halal, healthy and hygienic food.
“We possess all imperative elements for Halal products’ production and have to streamline them at par, the demand of the target community”, he added.
He said creation of Punjab Halal Development Agency (PHDA) is a step toward making Pakistan, Halal hub by opening new vistas for entering the global Halal market while serving the domestic consumer market.
The demand for healthy and safe agro-livestock food products is increasing rapidly with increasing population growth rate and socio-economic conditions.
This will also open up new economic opportunities and employment for the youth and traders. PHDA, being a leading entity of government of the Punjab is established to prescribe standards and processes for Halal Certification of food and non-food sector in line with research and advanced laboratory testing facilities.
Official said the Ministry of S&T will promote Halal Industry of Pakistan worldwide by maintaining International standards, adding Halal Standards for Livestock, Beverages, By-products, Cosmetics and other edibles will also be introduced, which will build trust on Pakistani products and enhance export volume.

Source: Aaj TV

Saturday, December 21, 2013

British Muslims develop appetite for halal turkey

Covered in blood and Urdu script, the traditional halal butcher’s shop has catered to generations of Britain’s Muslims – serving up a platter of chicken, lamb and beef to mostly foreign-born customers.

But in a sign of changing consumer habits, they have taken to selling halal turkeys, as growing numbers of practising Muslims gobble up roast turkeys for Christmas dinner on the Christian feast day.

Last December, the Halal Monitoring Council certified 5,500 turkeys slaughtered in UK abattoirs. In 2011, they certified none. Last week alone, the HMC certified 1,500 turkeys.
Demand has taken many suppliers by surprise.
“I was shocked there was a market at all,” said Paul Kelly, managing director of Kelly Bronze Turkeys.

Ben Bayer, an executive at wholesaler DB Food, says there is “huge demand” for halal turkeys, but they are unable to meet it, as the UK’s biggest halal assurance body, the Halal Food Authority, does not yet certify any turkeys as halal.
Muslim butchers instead mostly import halal turkeys from Ireland and Italy. These are now even available at Smithfield Market in London.

A Financial Times survey of 20 halal butchers based in London, Lancashire and Essex found that over half sold halal turkeys in December – some for the first time this year.
JR Butchers in Tooting says it is on track to sell 2,500 turkeys this December – a 4 per cent rise on last year.

It is relatively recently that turkeys have waddled into the UK’s £2.6bn halal meat market, as estimated by the World Halal Forum, which is growing exponentially as the Muslim population grows.

Research by Eblex, the meat industry body, shows that Muslims constitute less than 4 per cent of Britons, yet account for 12-15 per cent of British meat consumption.
Turkeys are representative of the flush nature of an expanding market, which Javed Rashid, a partner at JR Butchers, describes as “the high end of halal”. It encompasses increasing Muslim demand for halal geese and halal free-range products.
“These are home-grown Muslims with a higher disposable income than their parents’ generation and are more at home with British customs – without compromising their faith,” said Noman Khawaja, founder of the Halal Food Festival who uses the term “haloodie” to describe these new halal “foodies”.

Businesses are increasingly catering to this market. Mr Rashid aims to give his customers “an education in meat, which old-fashioned halal butchers are unable to provide – they lack the product knowledge”.

Fast food outlets have long served halal meat in areas with a high Muslim population. Now more upmarket restaurants, from the PizzaExpress chain to China Tang in Mayfair, have halal menus, too.

John Man, senior manager at China Tang, believes that it is important the luxury restaurant “reflects its customer profile”, adding that “the quality of halal meat is always good, when other meat sometimes fails to meet our standards”.
The increasing diversity of the UK’s halal meat market reflects a bigger, worldwide trend. Last week, a Norwegian supplier of Scandinavian game meat unveiled the world’s first halal reindeer – enabling Norway’s Muslims to taste the traditional yuletide meat for the first time.

Source: www.ft.com

Friday, December 20, 2013

Islamic finance has taken the stage in 2013

It was the year that the Islamic economy moved from vague conceptual status, an item on Dubai’s “wish list”, to being a central part of the UAE’s economic strategy.

The tone was set early on, in January, when Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, set out the emirate’s aim to become the hub of global Sharia-compliant business within five years.
It was an ambitious plan. Dubai is already a leading financial centre for the issue of sukuk (Sharia-compliant bonds) but Sheikh Mohammed’s vision went far wider than just the sukuk market.
Sami Al Qamzi, the director general of the Dubai Department of Economic Development and one of the lieutenants entrusted with implementing the Ruler’s strategy, said the aim of the initiative was to create a global capital of Islamic industry, economy and finance.

“The plans to create an Islamic economic centre will provide access to a global market for Islamic products valued at more than US$2 trillion.”

Halal food production, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, tourism and travel, and all other aspects of Islamic lifestyle were included in the plan, as well as the essential infrastructure of standardisation and certification of halal products.
Although nobody doubts the potential market provided by the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims, it is widely spread both geographically and sectorally. Dubai’s strategy was the first time one country had set out to be the world capital of the Islamic economy.
Dubai faces serious competition. Kuala Lumpar has been the driving force in Sharia-compliant financial business, having built up its resources in sukuk and other forms of Islamic finance over the past two decades.

London, too, was keen to augment its position as the leading financial market in the European time zone by becoming the global centre for sukuk listing and trading, a lucrative part of the Islamic financial market.

Other centres, like Dublin, Luxembourg, Indonesia and Bahrain also had plans to develop their Islamic economic capabilities. To make Dubai the centre of the Islamic business world would be a challenging task. The plan was immediately backed by leaders of the Dubai business and policymaking elite. In the Dubai International Financial Centre, the Nasdaq Dubai stock market announced it was considering a trading platform for sukuk, hoping to take away some of London’s lucrative trade.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the chairman of Dubai World, applauded the move. “Dubai is pioneering; this is another example of how it does things before anyone else in the world,” he said.

The Dubai Multi Commodites Centre advanced plans to extend Sharia-compliant business in commodities and metals trading.
Banks beefed up their Islamic financial capabilities by hiring more experts on Sharia-compliant business, making it a growth market in the emirate’s financial scene and one of the forces behind Dubai’s recovery.
For most of the summer, the task force set up by Sheikh Mohammed was working hard behind the scenes to produce a practical strategy for the implementation of the grand plan.
By October, a master plan was in place. Seven separate strategic goals, each aiming to make Dubai a global leader in one aspect of the Islamic economy, had been identified: finance; the halal food industry; family-friendly tourism; the digital economy; fashion, arts and design; economic education; and standards and certification.

“The continued developments and changes in the global economy increase the need to constantly diversify the structure of our national economy,” said Sheikh Mohammed. “Our aim from all economic initiatives we launch is to improve the quality of life and provide opportunities that ensure a prosperous future for coming generations.”

And in a typical show of confidence that the emirate could achieve its ambition, he said that the time scale would be reduced. The aim was to make Dubai the capital of Islamic economy in three, not five years.

Early steps to be taken in 2014 include the establishment of an Islamic governance centre in Dubai, and an international laboratory for the certification and accreditation of halal products is also planned for early next year. Halal food and other products form an estimated US$3.5 billion global market.
Two other initiatives are also scheduled for the first part of next year: legislation to regulate the production of halal products locally and globally, and an international endowment authority to spread the culture of waqf, or Islamic charitable endowment.
At October’s World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in London, held for the first time outside the Islamic world, the competitive pace was stepped up when Britain announced its plan to be the first non-Muslim country to issue a sovereign sukuk. But Dubai managed to steal London’s thunder when, after months of careful negotiations with the Malaysia-based WIEF, it was announced that the 2014 forum would be held in Dubai.

The final showpiece of the year was the Global Islamic Economy Summit held in Dubai in November, organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and the information group Thomson-Reuters. Some 3,000 leaders of global Islamic business gathered to hear Dubai’s plans, and to give their general endorsement of the strategy.
The prize for Dubai had got bigger. A new study put the overall potential value of Islamic business at $6.7 trillion by 2018, more than the value of any national economy in the world except the United States and China.

Source: www.thenational.ae

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Indonesia aims for insurance, takaful legislation in 2014

Insurers in Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy, will have to wait until at least next year for a new law that will require the spin-off of their sharia compliant units, an official at the country's financial regulator told Reuters.
The move could reshape Indonesia's Islamic insurance, or takaful, market by spurring mergers as firms try to meet capital requirements for their full-fledged Islamic units.
A draft law is now with parliament but other legislative priorities means it won't be enacted this year as previously anticipated, said Alis Subiyantoro, head of the sharia insurance subdivision at the country's financial services authority.
"The draft is still in discussion. The government asked to look at other legislation so it was postponed until next year."
"It covers all areas - licensing, market conduct, corporate governance, consumer protection - for both takaful and non-takaful firms," he said.
Assets in Indonesian takaful firms grew 42.8 percent to 13.1 trillion rupiah ($1.1 billion) as of December 2012 from 9.15 trillion rupiah a year earlier, data from the regulator showed, representing 2.3 percent of total industry assets.
The law would give three years for insurers to comply with requirements to spin-off their Islamic units, although that timeframe is also under discussion, Subiyantoro added.
Minimum capital requirements for full-fledged takaful firms would be set at 50 billion rupiah, compared with 100 billion rupiah for conventional insurers, which could prompt smaller operations to either merge or close.
Indonesia's takaful market is dominated by windows: there were five full-fledged takaful firms versus 37 sharia units of conventional insurers, as of December 2012.
Takaful windows enable firms to offer sharia-compliant and conventional products side by side, provided client money is segregated, but the practice is not widespread as in commercial banking where Islamic windows are commonplace.
Takaful is based on the concept of mutuality; the takaful company oversees a pool of funds contributed by all policy holders, but does not necessarily bear risk itself.
Indonesia's takaful sector has attracted global firms keen to capitalize on rapid economic growth in the world's most populous Muslim country, a market of 240 million consumers.
Firms offering takaful products include Europe's top insurer Allianz, Britain's biggest insurer Prudential, Toronto-based Manulife Financial Corporation, and French insurer AXA.
Passing Indonesia's insurance law would close the last market that allows takaful windows to operate, helping develop the country's nascent Islamic finance market which still lags behind neighbor Malaysia.
The only other regulator that has allowed takaful windows is Pakistan, which passed a law in July of last year to that effect but which has been challenged in court by local takaful firms. The law has been in legal limbo ever since.
Source: Reuters

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Halal Research Council and KPK Agriculture University Signed Agreement

A strategic partnership agreement signing ceremony between Halal Research Council (HRC) and KP Agriculture University was held on Thursday in which the experts from food, nutrition, livestock and other Industries were participated. According to the agreement, Halal Research Council and KP Agriculture University will provide joint consultation, training, research and technical assistance to each other for the promotion of Halal industry especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. 

The strategic partnership agreement was signed by the Chief Executive Officer of Halal Research Council Muhummad Zubair Mughal, Professor Dr Khan Bahadur Marwart Vice Chancellor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Agriculture University and Professor Dr M Subhan Qureshi-Dean Faculty of Veterinary Sciences. 

As per the agreement, Halal Research Council will provide international linkages and Halal certification services to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Agriculture University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Halal related industries. Professor Dr Khan Bahadur Marwart Vice-Chancellor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Agriculture University, addressing the agreement signing ceremony, said that nowadays distinction between Halal and Haram has become a big issue and organisations like Halal Research Council has smoothen this issue for general public through its expertise. 

He further added that due to this agreement between Halal Research Council and KPK Agriculture University, Halal Industry in Pakistan and particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will progress rapidly. Professor Dr M Subhan Qureshi Dean Faculty of Veterinary Sciences said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has a specialty that livestock is in abundance here. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a mountainous area, hence, meat is available in excess here relatively to dairy; and substantial amount of profit can be earned by exporting meat in the international market with Halal logo. 

Muhummad Zubair Mughal the Executive Officer of Halal Research Council said that the Halal Research Council's agreement with KPK Agriculture University will be a milestone in the development of Halal Industry, due to which educational and training efforts along with trade and advancement in Halal sector can be further strengthened. He said that Pakistan's Shariah values are acknowledged all over the world. If we export Halal meat, poultry, dairy, confectionery, spices and other food products from Pakistan to international market, then they will be highly recognised due to our Shariah values.