The adoption of globally accepted standards for different Islamic economy jurisdictions will not only benefit the producers, but will also enhance trade between different jurisdictions, a top official at Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) said.
Speaking to Gulf News in an interview, Abdullah Mohammad Al Awar, CEO of DIEDC, said it is a “very important goal” to harmonise the various standards of Islamic economy, which includes Islamic finance, Halal sectors, such as halal food and fashion, halal tourism and digital economy.
“We in the UAE, we have started this last year when a certification for production of halal food; the halal mark of UAE was launched in an effort to streamline with other jurisdictions in the future who accept those standards [halal mark] and it becomes global,” he said.
“I think this harmonisation will not only benefit the producer, but it will also enhance trade between jurisdictions,” he added.
However, there are already some adopted standards in some Islamic sectors, mainly Islamic finance, where there are measures and guidelines in place, Al Awar said. But in other sectors, such as the halal fashion, or the Islamic fashion market, “nothing exists”, he pointed out.
Recently, a round-table discussion was held in Turin, Italy, on Islamic fashion and many concerned organisations, designers, companies and retailers in Islamic fashion were present, including Al Awar.
“Everybody agreed about having certain guidelines that define what Islamic fashion is and why fashion is something necessary to have,” he added.
Islamic fashion, which is a rapidly growing market, is estimated to grow by six per cent every year to reach $327 billion (Dh1.2 trillion) by 2020.
When asked to explain the expected increase in the fashion market, Al Awar said people around the world seem to like spending on these products. Non-Muslims show interest in halal fashion, or modest and conservative fashion.
“We have seen some celebrities nowadays wearing conservative scarves on their heads. For them, it is not a faith-base exercise, but they consider it like fashion,” Al Awar added.
UAE comes in second after Turkey in terms of spending on Islamic fashion, with $22.5 billion. In Turkey, the figure jumps to $39.3 billion.
Indonesia comes in third with $18.8 billion, followed by Iran with $17.1 billion.
The four countries are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit (OIC).
According to the previous State of Global Islamic Economy Report, the Islamic values-driven consumption of the 57-member OIC, most of whose populations are Muslims, represent 8.9 per cent of GDP and are expected to grow faster than the global average.
The economies of the OIC members are also growing at a faster rate than the global economy, the report added.
The projected growth of the OIC markets in 2015-2019 is expected to be an average of 5.4 per cent compared to 3.6 per cent, the averaged expected growth for the rest of the world’s GDP, according to the projections of the IMF.
As for the Halal food and lifestyle, it is estimated to be between 2.5 trillion and 2.8 trillion dollars in 2020 up from nearly 1.8 trillion in 2014, Al Awar said.
Commenting on the reports talking about halal shoes, Al Awar said, “I am not an expert in this area, but I will tell you that [with] the term halal, we are not only referring to the aspect technically complying with the Sharia. That is one element of it”.
“The term halal certification and halal mark have meanings and implications above that, meaning the quality that is used, how it was produced, the production process, storing it, what items are being used in the manufacturing of those products,” he said.
Halal products and economic sectors will be discussed in depth during next month’s conference in Dubai, where hundreds of delegates from different countries are participating.
“This summit, I think, is an important gathering whereby we identify within a year or so, what focus areas to concentrate on,” he said.
Dubai has already taken some initiatives related to Halal, including halal food and tourism, including one to add halal food to food festivals.
“God willing, there will be more initiatives,” Al Awar said without elaborating.