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Sunday, 16 August 2015

New markets for Islamic finance emerging

JEDDAH — New markets for Islamic finance are emerging, with African countries launching debut sovereign sukuk and East Asian countries enabling their domestic markets to tap into Islamic financing, a glimpse of the 2015-2016 edition of the ‘State of the Global Islamic Economy’ said ahead of the Global Islamic Economy Summit that will run in Dubai on Oct. 5-6, 2015 said.

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have formally launched a $500 million grant facility to address poverty and diseases in IDB member countries. Meanwhile, European banks in Russia and Germany, for example, are also investing in Islamic finance through debut sovereign sukuk and Islamic banking windows.

Besides, as the demand for safe, wholesome and humane food grows around the world, producers of halal food who truly adhere to the concepts of ‘halal’ and ‘tayyib’ foods have an opportunity to become the global standard for this segment. 

The report cited Saffron Road as a leading premium US brand in the halal and all-natural market. The company is ranked as the fastest growth brand of natural entrées in the US, among all frozen entrées, not just halal. The brand will achieve over $40 million in retail sales this year, and is expected to grow over 50% next year.

Moreover, there have been many success stories in the ever-burgeoning halal travel sector., a travel search and booking website for halal-conscious travelers, has achieved tremendous success. The website’s booking for Turkey-based hotel clients has exceeded millions per resort, and hopes to reach 10 million per hotel for many of its properties by end 2015 and through 2016. This is in addition to other success stories such as Yamsafer, a hotel booking start-up from Palestine that raised $3.5 million from Global Founders Capital.

Furthermore, the report noted a new frontier in the Islamic economy, that is the digital component. This segment has woven itself into the lives of many Muslims worldwide as an integral part of their lifestyle. From Qur’an and halal travel mobile apps to online Islamic education services and tools for locating the nearest halal restaurants, the Islamic Digital Economy has emerged as a high growth segment. Success stories include, a leading location-based guide to halal restaurants and markets with a digital reach of 10 million unique users, MuslimPro, a prayer, and the ‘qibla’ tracking mobile app with over 10 million Android downloads in 16 different languages.

In addition,  pharmaceuticals & cosmetics sector offers several success stories and opportunities for growth. The halal cosmetics sector in particular is growing quickly in the Asia Pacific through smaller brands, forcing large companies such as Unilever to start looking at halal cosmetics to ensure they maintain their strong presence in this region. South East Asia is leading the development of halal vaccinations for meningitis, hepatitis and meningococcal for Hajj pilgrims. 

To boot, in stark contrast to the pressures the mainstream fashion industry faces in the aftermath of the global recession, the modest fashion space continues to expand. Muslim fashion e-commerce platforms such as Hijup and Modanisa are receiving further investments to grow their user base, while mainstream fashion players such as Uniqlo, Mango and Tommy Hilfiger are following the lead of haute couture houses such as DKNY in tapping into the modest fashion market, the report said.

The report is released ahead of the Global Islamic Economy Summit 2015, organized by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and Thomson Reuters.

Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of DIEDC, said “the launch of this year’s State of the Global Islamic Economy report reiterates the commitment of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, along with Thomson Reuters and DinarStandard to nurture a knowledge-based Islamic economy within the emirate and wider UAE as part of our continued priority to develop Dubai as the Capital of Islamic Economy. We are confident the report will inspire and empower entrepreneurs, industry leaders and investors from within the Arab world and beyond to evaluate and develop an actionable, practical and high impact market strategy focused on growing the opportunities for Islamic economy in their own geographies.

(Saudi Gazette / 16 August 2015)
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