Saturday, March 29, 2014

Third International Halal Conference, Meat Festival in May

Punjab Halal Development Agency (PHDA) and Halal Research Council (HRC) jointly announced the 3rd International Halal Conference and Meat Festival in May 2014 to showcase the Livestock and allied industries potential of Pakistan among international community in association with PAMCO, USAID, UVAS and Government of Punjab. 

Agency facilitates more than 50 international potential buyers and exhibitors to visit Pakistan and observe the Livestock experience and Meat Festival to appraise Pakistani meat taste to foreigners. PHDA has also planned field visits for the foreigners including Livestock farms, abattoirs and allied industries to highlight the latent of the industry. Halal conference is scheduled from May 22 to 23 at International Expo Centre Lahore and Meat Festival on 24th May at Serena Islamabad. 

Chairman PHDA, Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman said Government of Punjab is striving to boost up Halal industry of the country and this event is a flagship for the same. He further said all stakeholders must participate in the conference to showcase their profile otherwise they will probably loose international contacts of meat importers. Referentially, Meat, Poultry, Dairy and by-products, Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals, Beverages, Islamic Financing and other related industries are eligible for stalls. Last date for stall reservation is 30th, said a spokesman of the PHDA here on Thursday. 


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Get Pak Share In Halal Market

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - MINISTER for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid has drawn attention of both the Government and the private sector towards huge Halal food potential of the country and the existing meagre 0.5% share in Halal food market of the globe, which is worth over three trillion dollar. This is really a pathetic state of affairs as market experts believe that Pakistan can play a major role in the global Halal meat industry and has the potential to become a market leader since it has all the required ingredients.

Pakistan is the fifth largest milk producer and has more than 160 million quality live 
stock including 71 million cows and buffaloes and 89 million goats and sheep. Halal is not only the name of meat but more than 26 Halal industries are also based on bi-products of Halal meat like casings, bone crashing, gelatine, sausages, leather and other industries are associated with it besides a host of Halal dairy products that are in great demand almost in every part of the world. The concept of Halal is founded on Islamic ideals of purity and cleanliness, on the promotion of health and wholesomeness, a set of ethical values about food production known as tayyab that should, these days, appeal to all consumers who care about provenance, sustainability, respect for the environment and humane animal husbandry. This means an unlimited market all over the world and this can surely be tapped through production of quality meat, value addition and milk and dairy products. The proposed legislation for establishment of Pakistan Halal Authority can prove to be first step towards this direction. We hope that the Government and the proposed Authority as well as private sector would lay emphasis on research and marketing, address issues relating to certification of Halal food, improve slaughtering and processing methods and launch campaign to counter misconceptions about Islamic way of slaughtering. Some estimates suggest that the country can earn additional six to seven billion dollars worth of foreign exchange by tapping the global Halal market and this call for a comprehensive strategy by tapping of Islamic banking. 


Monday, March 24, 2014

Pakistan shares 0.5pc only in Halal food market: Zahid

ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Science & Technology Zahid Hamid has said Pakistan despite having great potential in Halal food was sharing only 0.5 per cent of international market as other countries’ share was $ 3 trillion annually.

The minister was speaking at a meeting held here under his chairmanship to discuss draft bill of Pakistan Halal Authority 2014. The meeting was attended by Kamran Ali Qureshi, Federal Secretary Ministry of Science and Technology, Justice (retd) Khalil ur Rehman, Chairman Punjab Halal Regularity Authority, representatives of federal ministries of science & technology, religious affairs, commerce, finance and Establishment Division, and all the four provinces and Giligit-Baltistan. The proposed draft was discussed in detail. Various suggestions presented by the representatives of ministries and provinces were incorporated in it.  The main purpose of the proposed act is to promote the Halal sector and ensure implementation of uniform Halal standards and thereby promote import and export trade and commerce with foreign countries and Inter-provincial trade and commerce in Halal articles and processes.
The draft bill was unanimously approved by all the representatives of the ministries and provinces and will be presented in the parliament for its enactment.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WHA to Review Global Halal Market

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - Karachi—Over 140 scholars and experts would participate in the OIC_SMIC World Halal Assembly (WHA) to review global Halal market and quality assurance to hit the choosy market. To be held on June 3-4, 2014 in Islamabad. The global assembly is being organized jointly by Halal Association of Pakistan (HAP) and Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) which will be the first ever World Halal Assembly duly supported by SMIIC (Standards & Metrology Institute of Islamic Countries), the OIC body mandated to work on Halal Standards and Accreditation on behalf of OIC. (Organization of Islamic Countries) 

The Secretary 
General and CEO of the Halal Association, Asad Sajjad said that the 8th Board of Directors and 6th General Assembly Meeting of SMIIC would also be held along with the Halal Assembly, making it the biggest Halal event of the region. The Assembly would be held with the support of following institutions: OIC, SMIIC (Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Studies), IDB (Islamic Development Bank); ICCIA (Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture); ICDT (Islamic Centre for Development of Trade); ITC (International Trade Centre); HDC (Halal Development Council); GSO (Gulf Standardization Organization); IIHO (International Islamic Halal Organization); ESMA (Emirate Standards & Metrology Authority); DAC (Dubai Accreditation Centre); and Halal fraternity from all over the world. It is expected that more than 150 delegates would attend this Assembly from 40 countries. The event would provide excellent opportunities to the Pakistani exporters, traders and government departments to interact and take advantage of the expert gathering.

Objectives of the event are to invite international Halal industry experts to give comprehensive knowledge to the audience, in addition to bring Pakistan on the Global Halal Trade map and inform the opportunities available for the exporters of Pakistan in the trillions 
dollar Halal market to give a boost to the efforts of government to achieve desired export results. The Assembly will focus on issues and challenges related to Halal business, certification, accreditation and marketing. It would also highlight the role of trade bodies in promotion of Halal trade and highlight the issues, which could be taken up by the government for the next budget and promotion of Halal exports of Pakistan.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Pakistanis invited to China Halal Food Expo

LAHORE: The presence of over 20 million Muslims in China offer a huge potential for the halal food market, an opportunity Pakistani businessmen should avail.
This was stated by the Qinhai Chamber of International Commerce (QCIC) Chairman Xihui Wang, who was heading a 20-member delegation, while speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Tuesday.
Xihui Wang said that a big halal food exhibition is being held in the Qinhai province in May and it would be a great opportunity for the Pakistani businesses. He said that another exhibition titled ‘Green Economy’ is scheduled for June while a carpet expo will be held in August.
The chairman invited Pakistani businessmen to all three exhibitions, saying that Chinese were quite keen to do business with their Pakistani counterparts.
Speaking on the occasion, LCCI Acting President Mian Tariq Misbah said that rapid economic globalisation and regional integration provides a good opportunity for further cooperation between the two countries.
He said that the visit by the Chinese delegation would pave way for active collaboration in different sectors including halal foods, livestock, carpets, pharmaceutical, textile products and machinery. It will also lay a solid foundation in expanding the scope of people-to-people contact including businessmen from both the countries, Misbah added.
“Joint ventures in (various) sectors with Chinese investors will certainly boost production, employment and exports earning of the country. We would like to play a role in materialising these business deals.”
He informed the Chinese delegation that LCCI has established a Mediation Centre in August 2012. There are more than 40 accredited mediators registered with LCCI who can help local, national and international businessmen for out of court settlement.
Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI Vice President Kashif Anwar sought the help of Chinese businessmen for cooperation with the LCCI Mediation Centre, saying some Chinese companies even do not reply to letters from LCCI Mediation Centre therefore it is requested that the message should be conveyed to the Chambers of Commerce in China.
He said that the quality of goods and machinery, being supplied to Pakistan was not up to the mark and the Chinese businessmen should look into this area.


Posted By: Rabia HRC

Friday, March 14, 2014

Poverty in Muslim World is Rapidly Increasing: Zubair Mughal

Poverty can easily be driven away through Islamic Microfinance

Zubair Mughal, CEO, AlHuda CIBE is receiving the plaque of appreciate from H.E Dr. Mounir Tlili, Minister of Religious Affairs of Tunisia during Int’l Islamic Microfinance Symposium which was organized by Islamic Development Bank, Tunisian Association of Islamic Economics & GIZ on in Tunis.

(Tunis) Half of global poverty reside in Muslim world while the Muslim population is 24% of the total global population, if the dangerously increasing poverty in the Muslim community is not controlled soon then it will be alarming. These concerns were addressed by Muhammad Zubair Mughal, Chief Executive Officer, AlHuda Centre of Islamic Banking and Economics while speaking at Islamic Microfinance Symposium that was held at Tunis – Tunisia which was organized by Tunis Association of Islamic Economics with association of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and German Donor Agency GIZ. 

He mentioned the various causes of rapidly increasing poverty in the Muslim world i.e. lack of education, lack of employment political instability and so on. But on the other hand, the main hitch is unavailability of the proper financial products which are in line with the Muslim’s religious values and social norms. Micro financing is not utilized by Muslim population due to interest and thus is excluded from financial inclusion. On the other hand, Muslim world can be led out of the poverty by extending financial inclusion through Islamic microfinance. He said that the according to the statistical information of multilateral development agencies, 300 million people were graduated from Micro to SME level in past year, and the countries mentioned in the list are China, India, Brazil and Chili etc. but when we look at the enlisted countries we will come to know that then countries mentioned in the list are not Muslim and by this we will come to know that the poverty is decreasing in non Muslim countries and increasing in Muslim world. 

He further added that unfortunately, Islamic microfinance is not given the proper place in the poverty alleviation strategies of International development agencies (e.g World Bank, UNDP, IFC, USAID etc) in the way it should have been given. Islamic microfinance is just 1% of the total micro financing of the world that is just 1 Billion USD. He said that there is no religion of poverty but religion plays an important role in poverty alleviation. This is the reason; Islamic microfinance should be given a proper place in the modes of poverty alleviation through which both Muslims and non-Muslims can take benefit. He added that there are various non Muslim countries where Islamic micro fiancé has been used so effectively to alleviate poverty. 

Experts from 15 countries including Morocco, Kenya, Yemen and Pakistan had taken part in the symposium. A mutual declaration about the legal frame work of Islamic microfinance was given at the end of the event. 

Kangaroo meat ‘Halal,’ Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate says

Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) has issued a fatwa stating that kangaroo meat and grasshoppers are “Halal” food, but Islam bans eating “badgers, martens, weasels, beavers and sea otters.”

“Islamic scholars agree that ‘Halal’ animals that are not mentioned in the Quran and in the hadith [the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad] are those that don’t eat feces and carcasses, and which are therefore neither wild nor coarse,” the Diyanet’s High Committee of Religious Affairs said in response to a citizen’s question.

As such, the fatwa continues, kangaroo is classified in the same category with other “grass eating, clean animals like deer, gazelle and antelope.” Grasshopper is also categorized as “Halal” because “there is a special provision in the Sunnah,” it adds, referring to the way of life prescribed as normative for Muslims on the basis of the teachings and practices of Prophet Muhammad.

The fatwa describes badgers, martens, weasels, beavers and sea otters as “naturally wild.” Although there are differing views among Islamic scholars related to these animals, the fatwa argues, “As these animals are wild and carnivorous, it’s not appropriate to eat their meat.”

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Islamic Banking need to be promoted in SME sector

Saturday, March 08, 2014 - Karachi—The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has submitted recommendations for the serious consideration of the policy makers in the forthcoming budget and trade policies in order to stimulate the economy which can only be done by promoting the majority SME sector wholeheartedly and giving them a comfortable environment. The Union believes that SME promotion and development is no charity but it is the right of every SME and responsibility of the state to uplift the sector. The state must provide them equitably and make dedicated efforts to make doing business easy.

The SME sector includes traders, manufacturers, farmers and service providers. There are millions of SMEs all over Pakistan including many hospitals schools and consultants’ services. We were told 15 years ago that they were 3.2 millions SMEs but we are sure if you also include the SME farmers there would be almost 6 millions by now. We have created awareness about the importance of the sector and identified the impediments and have submitted recommendations every year for inclusion in the budget, trade policy, industrial policy and have urged the ministry of industries to revisit the SME policy made in 2007. We keep voicing the requirements of the sector all the time. The SME issues are poor law and order, loadsheding, poor infrastructure, lack of finance, information, transfer of technology, incentives and defective taxation system other than the corruption, non implementation of SME policy in right earnest. The union has submitted the following recommendations to SMEDA for onward submission to the concerned policy makers.

Law & Order: We have suggested the formation of SME Liaison Committee (SME-LC) on the pattern of the CPLC to arrange collective protection squads in industrial areas as the SMEs are threatened by gangsters and politically patronized miscreants. The SMEs need a strong committee to work as liaison between the police and the entrepreneurs and to exert pressure on the police to trace the culprits and prosecute them. The SME-LC chief must get the status of honorary first class magistrate to prevail on the police department and the relevant S.H.Os. 

Energy Crisis: We have suggested that alternate energy systems must be promoted and those SMEs willing to install alternate energy devices of solar, wind, Biomass be encouraged and the government needs to exempt the import of alternate energy systems on duty and leasing facilities must be provided on special affordable mark-up. Finance: This is a very important issue, as banks are demanding immovable property as collateral. The banks need to be educated on the subject of SME financing and taught risk management. The commercial banks need training and education on collateral management, warehouse financing, also financing on the basis of positive cash flows and the government must promote Islamic financing, leasing, hire purchase, commercial property leasing. The union has urged the government not to privatize the SME Bank but make it an SME Bank in the real sense.

The union has also urged the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to establish the SME Guarantee Insurance Company to insure SME financing and indemnify the banks against default by the borrowers. The SME needs venture capital and the system of venture capital needs to be promoted. The SMEs are looking forward to the establishment of the Exim bank as promised in the trade policy. Infrastructure: The infrastructure is poor and the SMEs are disabled due to poor infrastructure in the industrial areas. There is need for industrial estates and the need for government to allot land at concession for industrial estates. The leasing companies must adopt commercial property leasing to finance the SMEs to buy shops, workshops, warehouses and factories under commercial property leasing.

Technology Transfer: The SMEs need to import technology to manufacture quality goods and the government should facilitate collaboration with advanced countries to enable SMEs to manufacture goods with indigenous raw material and also import substitution goods in Pakistan.


Demand Grows For Halal Food As Industry Evolves

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The global industry for Halal food and lifestyle products — ones that meet Islamic law standards of manufacture — is estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars and is multiplying as Muslim populations grow. Producers outside the Muslim world, from Brazil to the U.S. and Australia, are eager to tap into the market. The United Arab Emirates is positioning itself to be their gateway, part of its push to become a global center of Islamic business and finance.

UAE officials announced last month that the city of Dubai has dedicated around 6.7 million square feet of land in Dubai Industrial City for a "Halal Cluster" for manufacturing and logistics companies that deal in Halal food, cosmetics and personal care items.

Dubai Industrial City CEO Abdullah Belhoul said the idea to create a zone just for Halal manufacturers was driven by the increased demand locally and internationally for such products.

"This industry itself, we know it is growing," Belhoul told The Associated Press. He said the industry is expected to double in terms of value within five years. "So we think there is a lot of opportunity... and we need to capitalize on this."
The world's Muslim population is estimated at around 1.6 billion, and the majority is believed to adhere to or prefer to adhere to Halal products when possible. The general understanding is that halal products should not be contaminated with pork or alcohol and that livestock is slaughtered in accordance with Islamic Shariah law. Similar to kosher practices, Islam requires the animal is killed with single slash to the throat while alive. It is intended as a way for animals to die swiftly and minimize their pain.

However, as with most issues in religion, opinions vary greatly over what is permissible and what is not. Despite attempts by international Islamic bodies, such as the World Halal Food Council, to achieve worldwide guidelines, there are no global standards for Halal certifications.

Stricter interpreters of Shariah say chicken must be slaughtered by hand to be considered Halal. Others say it is acceptable if the chicken is slaughtered by machine, as is the case in much of the fast-paced food industry around the world. To accommodate various Muslim consumers, several companies even specify on their packaging how the chicken was slaughtered.

Belhoul said that if Halal products are manufactured in the UAE, they will need to be certified Halal by the government body that oversees this. But, as with most countries, if the Halal products, such as livestock or raw material, are being imported from abroad for processing in the UAE, then the stamp of approval comes from Islamic organizations in the exporting country.

This is where organizations such as Halal Control in Germany have an important role to play, said General Manager Mahmoud Tatari. He said that when the company started 14 years ago in Europe, there was little awareness or demand for Halal products. Today, Halal Control has 12 Islamic scholars who offer guidance on certifications to international companies such as Nestle and Unilever who want to do business in the Muslim world.

Halal Control, which concentrates on products made in Europe, does not certify meat and poultry, but almost everything else from dairy products to food ingredients. Tatari said Muslims around the world may think they are eating Halal-certified food, but that often raw materials may include alcohol or pork gelatin in candies and soups, or may have been cross-contaminated during production.
"It is a process and this will take maybe now five to 10 years (until) we can more safely eat Halal," he said.

Malaysia is the global leader in developing the Halal industry and putting forth the highest standards, said Tatari and others in the industry.

Malaysia exported $9.8 billion worth of Halal products in 2013, the Oxford Business Group said. That makes it one of the largest suppliers in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an international group with 57 members.
U.S. manufacturers, such as Kelloggs and Hershey, plan to build Halal-compliant plants in Malaysia. The Oxford Business Group says Indonesia, with the world's largest Muslim population, plans to establish a center for the Halal industry in 2015. In Thailand, more than a quarter of food factories are already making Halal products. But it is in the Gulf, where countries almost entirely rely on food imports, where the Halal industry seems to have the biggest potential for growth in the coming years.

Brazil is the world's second top exporter of meat and poultry to Muslim-majority countries after the U.S. The Brazil Food Company, which is among the world's largest food companies, plans to open its first manufacturing site in the Middle East in UAE's capital, Abu Dhabi, in June. The factory will process poultry from Brazil for repackaging and shipping to other countries.

"Having the factory will allow us to be closer to the market and will allow us go to different markets that today we cannot export to from Brazil," BRF Quality Assurance Supervisor Tiago Brilhante said. The company already exports 70,000 tons of chicken to the Middle East each month, making the region its biggest export market.

Datamonitor, a company that provides market and data analysis, says halal food already accounts for about a fifth of world food trade, and the Muslim market is growing substantially. According to a Global Futures and Foresights Study, 70 percent of the world's population increase from 7 billion today to 9 billion people by 2050 will be born in Muslim countries.

Already in Muslim-majority countries, outlets like McDonald's, Subway and Papa John's pizza serve Halal to their customers.

In the U.S., the family-run Midamar Corporation, based out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has been tapping into the Halal market since 1974. Midamar exports American beef and chicken to around 35 countries.

Jalel Aossey said the company's Halal certification comes from an organization his father started called the Islamic Services of America, which he says was the first of its kind in the U.S.

Today there are around 30 Halal certification bodies in the U.S. and several mainstream supermarkets that carry Halal food items.

Even in markets where Muslims are not the majority, there are billions of dollars to be made in the Halal industry. The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, a not-for-profit Halal certification organization, said the domestic U.S. Halal market is estimated at $20 billion.

Mark Napier, director of the Gulfood trade show that brings together more than 4,500 food and beverage vendors from around the world to the Dubai World Trade Center annually, said producers of halal products want to serve markets where their supply is not keeping up with demand. Many Muslims in the West buy Jewish kosher products when their Halal counterparts are not available.

"Food business is big business," Napier said. "Producers are increasingly aware of the need for Halal standards and certification and bringing that to the fore of their export promotions."


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dubai to launch Halal Index

Dubai: Dubai Exports is looking to issue an online Halal Index to list all UAE-based firms that are halal, Saeed Al Awadi, CEO of Dubai Exports, told Gulf News.
The index will be set up by Dubai Exports, an agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED), and will include relevant information about all the halal companies, banks, financial institutions, Islamic products and Islamic services in Dubai.
“This Index will boost the businesses of these firms by encouraging to enhance their local industries and products and by providing these businesses with new export opportunities across new markets,” Al Awadi said.
Halal companies, are firms engaged in the business of production, marketing and distribution of products that are Sharia compliant.
Al Awadi said that this comes in line with the government’s initiative to position Dubai as the world capital for Islamic economy in two years.
He added that this index will facilitate the growth of Dubai’s halal exports, which are expected to lead the region soon.
Dubai could emerge as the leader in the next phase of the evolution of Sharia-compliant sectors, including finance and insurance, Halal food and lifestyle, and travel.
“This index will be a good platform for all halal firms in the UAE to gain the opportunities for halal businesses and Islamic industries, which is now well established across geographies,” Al Awadi added.
With a clear vision of establishing itself as the centre of a global Islamic economy, Dubai looks likely to be the one with the biggest potential.
With Muslim consumer expenditure globally on food and lifestyle sectors around $1.62 trillion (Dh5.9 trillion) in 2012 and expected to reach $2.47 trillion by 2018, Al Awadi pointed to the need to boost this business sector by providing the right infrastructure and services.
Dubai Exports is looking to boost the emirate’s export by 20 per cent this year through the expansion to new markets, Al Awadi said.
“Dubai’s export long–term strategies to grow with the exports will continue to provide support required for our local companies to grow with their businesses and in turn the emirate’s Gross Domestic Production (GDP).
“The infrastructure and facilities already in place provide simple export process to our local companies wanting to enter new markets,” he said.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Turkey has great potential for Islamic insurance, report says

Turkey has significant potential in the sector of Islamic insurance, as participation banks in Turkey held $39 billion in Islamic assets in 2012 and these are expected to grow to $121 billion by 2018, according to the Global Islamic Insurance Forecasts Report prepared by Ernst & Young (EY) for the period 2013-2014.

The report also stressed that Turkey's high potential for Islamic insurance is based upon its young population, along with ongoing regulatory reforms and a government that is willing to promote financial inclusion through participation banking.

However, as only four participation banks currently operate in Turkey, there is a major supply-side constraint, as well as limited legal infrastructure in the Islamic finance sector. In a press statement released on Feb. 28, EY Turkey Audit Partner Seda Hacıoğlu stressed that Turkey does not have a clause on Islamic insurance in its insurance law yet, adding that the lack of a developed Islamic capital market by world standards is the primary obstacle to the spread of Islamic insurance in Turkey.
Another factor negatively affecting Islamic insurance in Turkey is the problematic pricing of this insurance, which leads prices to remain relatively low in the sector. Hacıoğlu said that Islamic insurance is based on making profit at the end of a certain period, stressing that this factor constitutes a threat and weakness in the sector.

According to the EY report, global Islamic Insurance assets had reached $11 billion in 2012, a 16 percent increase compared with previous year. Islamic insurance is widespread in Arab countries, Malaysia, Indonesia and also Europe and the US. “It is estimated that currently over 200 Islamic insurance firms operate in 33 countries, while 51 percent of the participation was from Saudi Arabia, followed by the Asian region with 25 percent, in 2012,” Hacıoğlu stated.

Hacıoğlu predicts that as the variety of Islamic bonds starts to diversify, asset management in the Islamic insurance sector will also begin in Turkey, along with an increased trade volume and interaction with Arab countries.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Chubu Airport to provide prayer rooms, halal food for Muslims

Chubu Airport will open prayer rooms and offer halal foods for Muslim travelers to coincide with the start of a new route to Malaysia, Central Japan International Airport Co. announced March 4.
“(Malaysia) is a region full of vitality, and we have great expectations that the number of visitors from there will increase,” said Kenichi Suzuki, director of the company’s sales promotion planning division. “I hope to make the airport a place that Muslim people will look forward to visiting again.”
According to officials, the airport will open a prayer room on the second floor of the terminal building on March 17, the first day of the new route to Malaysia. The carpeted 20-square-meter space will have an arrow on the ceiling pointing toward Mecca, the holiest city in Islam.
A similar facility will be set up in the international departure area on the third floor in April, the officials said.
Narita, Kansai, New Chitose and other airports in Japan have similar prayer spaces for Muslims, the officials said.
Because Islamic law bans the consumption of alcohol and pork, some restaurants in the Chubu Airport terminal building will feature menus with items that do not contain such ingredients.
The start of the new services is in line with the opening of budget carrier AirAsia X’s new route linking the airport with Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, a country where Muslims account for 60 percent of the population.
According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, the number of visitors from Malaysia last year rose by 35.6 percent from the previous year to a record 176,500, thanks to easier requirements for tourist visas and Malaysia’s steady economic growth.
Chubu Airport has had only one route to the Islamic world--flights to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, offered by the country’s Etihad Airways.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Halal holidays: World's best destination for Muslim tourists named

Malaysia is the world's friendliest destination for Muslim travellers, according to a survey released Tuesday, but Japan has shown most improvement as it ramps up efforts to cash in on a growing market.
Malaysia was followed by the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia in this year's rankings for "halal" friendly holiday destinations released by Singapore-based Muslim travel specialist Crescentrating.
The survey evaluates countries in terms of their attentiveness to the needs of Muslim travellers, including the presence and accessibility of halal restaurants with meat slaughtered to Islamic standards, and the provision of prayer rooms at airports, shopping malls and hotels.
"An increasing number of destinations are now keen on tapping into this segment and adapting their services to take into account the unique faith-based needs of Muslim travellers," said Crescentrating chief executive Fazal Bahardeen.
For largely Muslim Malaysia, Bahardeen said the country's Islamic Tourism Centre has "continued to educate the industry on how to cater to the Muslim travellers".
"There are now more and more hotel kitchens with halal certification, an increasing number of hotels are also now catering to the specific needs of Muslim travellers," he added.
One hotel even has separate timings for the use of gym and swimming pools for males and females requiring privacy, he said.
Bahardeen said the Muslim travel market was estimated to be worth $US140 billion ($A155 billion) last year, accounting for almost 13 per cent of the global total. It is expected to rise to $US200 billion by 2020, he added.
Japan was in 40th place among the 60 ranked, but its score is 10 notches up from 50th place last year -- the biggest improvement overall.
"Japan has definitely been the most active destination during the last year to focus on this segment of travellers," Bahardeen said.
"It has launched a number of initiatives -- from awareness programmes to the local industry to releasing the Muslim travel guide to Japan."
Some airports and hotels in Japan have also started offering halal food and prayer rooms, he said.
Singapore placed sixth in the global rankings, and was the only non-Muslim country in the top 10, followed by Morocco, Jordan, Qatar and Tunisia.
The tiny island state touts its man-made attractions, a vast array of local food and reputation for cleanliness and order to travellers, and "does better than even some of the Muslim countries" in enticing those who follow the Islamic faith, Bahardeen said.
Italy, Belgium, Ireland and Mexico were the bottom four countries in the rankings, as they had "not really focussed" on the possibilities of the Muslim market, he added.
The top ten in order were: Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Morocco, Jordan, Qatar and Tunisia.

Read more:

Friday, March 7, 2014

Halal, shechita and the politics of animal slaughter

f, after raising the issue for almost three decades, the British Veterinary Association was beginning to despair of ever securing front-page coverage for its campaign to ensure all animals are stunned before slaughter, it can breathe a sigh of relief. But probably a very short and shallow one.
Thanks to the interview its new head gave to the Times – picked up by the Today programme and countless others – the matter is now nothing if not high-profile. And, coming weeks after Denmark in effect outlawed kosher and halal slaughter, it is certainly topical, which may explain why the BVA's president-elect, John Blackwell, judged it a more alluring target than even the government's badger cull.
Blackwell's suggestion that the UK "may well" have to follow Denmark's example if British Jews and Muslims refuse to allow animals to be stunned before they are killed did not please the groups concerned. Nor did his assertion that cutting the throat of an animal without stunning it caused prolonged and unnecessary suffering.
"They will feel the cut," he said. "They will feel the massive injury of the tissues to the neck. They will perceive the aspiration of blood they will breathe in before they lose consciousness."
Although the BVA is a seasoned campaigner on the issue – and has also urged the government to label non-stunned meat to alert consumers to its origins – Blackwell's intervention has met with a swift and furious response from Jewish and Muslim groups, who argue their long-practised methods are completely humane. They have also hinted his comments could be used by far-right groups to stir up community tensions.
"He has made the extraordinarily misleading statement that what Jews do and Muslims do is to slit animals' throats and allow them to bleed to death," said Jonathan Arkush, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. "That is unbelievably misleading because he must know that the way the animal is killed is to cut its throat so as to bring about an immediate and irreversible loss of sensation and death."
Suggestions that the animal had its throat cut "and you just watch it while it bleeds to death", said Arkush, were pejorative, misleading and "could not be further from the truth".
Shimon Cohen, campaign director at Shechita UK – which campaigns for the right to carry out Jewish religious slaughter – described Blackwell's calls as "an extraordinary dereliction of duty" and asked why he had decided to focus on an issue that affected only a tiny minority of animals.
Although Shechita UK has no figures for the number of lambs and sheep slaughtered according to Jewish law in the UK each year, it estimates the number of cows to be 15,000-20,000 and the number of chickens to be around 1m. Figures from Compassion in World Farming suggest that 32m chickens and 70,000 cattle are slaughtered without being stunned in the UK each year.
"The fact is that religious slaughter is at least as humane as the industrialised methods used in conventional mechanical slaughter, which include electrocution, gassing, shooting, trapping, drowning and clubbing," said Cohen. His views were echoed by Arkush, who said that 9% of animals in the UK were mis-stunned, causing them pain and distress before slaughter, adding that European veterinary bodies put the figure at around 31%.
"Let's call it 9%: in this country, the total number of animals who suffer mis-stunning exceeds the whole number of animals killed for the kosher market by a factor of 10," he said. "If you've got 10 times as many animals mis-stunned as you have kosher, surely you should be attacking that?"
Arkush also said he feared that the Danish government had introduced the ban as a reaction to increasing public discontent over Muslim immigration.
"This was a political move; a populist move because there has in fact been no shechita in Denmark for 10 years because the community there is too minuscule and it wouldn't be economic," he said. "Why pass a law about it? Denmark was not done out of consideration for animal welfare but out of consideration for popular, anti-immigration sentiment."
Dr Shuja Shafi, the deputy secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said he was disappointed that the issue of religious slaughter had been brought up yet again. "Halal is a humane method; it's a clean, clear method and has got rules and regulations about how it's carried out," he said. "Stunning has got lots of problems in itself … and if it's not done properly, actually animals are a lot worse off."
He also said that focusing on minority religious practices "could give ammunition" to the far right, which already uses halal slaughter as a means to try to attack the Muslim community. "People should be more responsible in how they tackle this. It's going to cause confusion and will be used by elements to have a negative effect." Blackwell told the Guardian that while a ban "may well be the end point", he would prefer to get all the groups involved together so that they could discuss the scientific evidence on stunning. He admitted that human and operator error would inevitably lead to some mis-stunning but said he did not accept that it was as common as had been suggested.
"I've heard talk today of anything between 9% and 31%, and I just don't buy that," he said. "There are veterinary surgeons working continuously in plants, monitoring the welfare aspects of the animal from the moment it arrives … to the moment it's killed."
Asked why he had chosen to raise the issue of religious slaughter rather than comment on intensive farming or the badger cull, he said: "This isn't a single-policy issue; it's part of a portfolio of issues. Welfare is very important, if not the most important thing, to veterinary surgeons. It's almost our raison d'être to try to improve welfare, and as far as animal production goes, we're concerned with the welfare from the birth of the animal till its final slaughter."
Blackwell also said that while the BVA acknowledged the sensitive nature of the debate, it was not seeking to stir up a religious or political debate on the issue of slaughter.
"We're just trying to take the moral high ground on behalf of the animal," he said. "It's not about trying to clamp down on people's very, very well-held beliefs; it's about moving forward and looking at the issues and seeing that if we can't have a ban, then how can we fine-tune it so the welfare of the animals is not compromised at slaughter?"
Blackwell's calls won the support of Compassion in World Farming, which said stunning worked and was merciful.
"In the UK, 1.4m sheep and goats, 32m chickens and 70,000 cattle are slaughtered without being stunned each year," said its chief policy adviser. "There is clear scientific evidence which shows that animals suffer when they are slaughtered without being stunned."
The response from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was rather more guarded. "We respect the rights of religious communities to eat meat prepared in accordance with their religious beliefs," said a spokeswoman. "There are strict laws in place to ensure welfare standards are met during slaughter."