Islamic Economy Experts Anticipate Prosperous Future for Halal Industry Despite COVID-19 Disruptions
- Discussions during second GIES Virtual Series webinar find data is key to increasing fluidity in halal food value chain
- Third webinar of GIES Virtual Series on ‘The Future of Jobs’ is scheduled for Tuesday, 11 August, at 12 Noon (UAE)
Dubai-UAE: 25 July, 2020 – The Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC), in collaboration with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Dubai Chamber) and in strategic partnership with Refinitiv, recently organised the second GIES Virtual Series webinar that provided a positive outlook on the future of the halal industry, despite the supply chain disruptions caused by the measures taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Participants reviewed the Islamic economy sectors that had been most impacted and least impacted by COVID-19, while also assessing the sectors with the greatest opportunities for innovation, as well as the top import/export markets for halal products. Furthermore, during the conversations, speakers outlined elements that would be key for the future growth of the halal industry – including data and blockchain.
Titled ‘What will be the new normal for the Halal Industry?’, the webinar hosted Saleh Abdullah Lootah, Chairman of UAE Food and Beverages Manufacturers Group, Asma Nishat Ahad, Director of Halal Market Development at The Islamic Food And Nutrition Council Of America (IFANCA), Professor Ir Sukoso, Director General of Badan Penanggulangan Jaminan Produk Halal (BPJPH), the Indonesian Halal Product Assurance Organizing Agency, and Dr Rehab Faraj Al Ameri, Secretary General of the International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF). Rafi-uddin Shikoh, Founder and CEO of Dinar Standard, moderated the session.
Welcoming the participants and attendees to the webinar, Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of DIEDC, highlighted the significance of convening Islamic economy stakeholders through the GIES Virtual Series. In his keynote address, Al Awar said: “The GIES Virtual Series is a stepping stone to the fifth edition of the Global Islamic Economy Summit, scheduled from 1 to 2 November 2021, on the sidelines of Expo 2020 Dubai. The discussions that we are engaging in through these webinars on the future of the Islamic economy, will set the stage for more fruitful conversations and better informed decisions at GIES 2021.”
Al Awar also noted that the halal food sector had been minimally impacted by COVID-19 reprecussions. This was primarily due to the sustained focus of several countries, OIC and non-OIC alike, to continue importing food during the global health crisis and clearly highlighted the importance of food security and of ensuring a continuous supply.
While introducing the session, Rafi-uddin Shikoh unveiled the latest findings from DinarStandard that ranked India, the USA, and Brazil as the top three halal product exporters, respectively, and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Indonesia as the top three halal product importers.
During the session, Saleh Lootah recalled the first lesson he had learned from late Haj Saeed bin Ahmed Al Lootah, an acclaimed businessman and trader, who is considered a pioneer in the field of Islamic economy and passed away in June 2020. The visionary taught him to look holistically at the benefits of working in the halal industry, and not just at the salary package – the compensations in this life – but also the afterlife. He noted that Haj Saeed viewed the Islamic economy as a way of life. He lived and practiced its values in dealing with others, not just in doing business or conducting transactions.
He said: “Data is very important for all stakeholders in the food supply chain. Governments will be able to regulate supplies based on the stock they have in the country. Meanwhile, wholesalers will understand how much stock is available in the country – to avoid overstocking and liquidating their goods as expired products. Likewise, retailers and manufacturers will also benefit from greater data compliance, a critical element in Islamic economy. The question that arises is how can we capture this information, digitalise it, and utilise it through blockchain to help us with halal certification? This is what we are trying to promote through the UAE Food Platform that we initiated three years ago.”
For her part, Asma Ahad said: “There is a significant interest among consumers, especially halal consumers, to find products that will give them the right immunity in this environment and the physical health to survive the pandemic. We have seen an increased uptake for products such as supplements and pharmaceuticals that will enable people to build their resistance to disease during this pandemic.”
Professor Susoko noted that due to the large investments required for businesses to go completely digital, SMEs are extremely vulnerable to the evolving consumer habits. He reiterated that therefore, SMEs should be a focal point of any government’s economic stimulus measures.
Dr Rehad Al Ameri said: “Halal pharmaceuticals and food are the least-impacted industries, as they have been strongly supported by governments across the globe because people’s basic needs were a priority that had to be secured. Despite the lockdown and disruption that took place during COVID-19 across the supply chain, we are confident about maintaining the flow of halal goods.”
DIEDC also announced the details of the upcoming third webinar of the GIES Virtual Series, titled ‘The Future of Jobs’, scheduled for Tuesday, 11 August, 2020, at 12 Noon (UAE time).
All those interested in joining this global conversation can do so through registering on the GIES Summit website (link here).
In drumming up support for the upcoming edition of GIES next year, DIEDC is organising the series of virtual sessions until end-2020, to further strengthen Dubai’s position as a pioneering destination and a global capital of Islamic economy.