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Second OIC Halal Middle East Exhibition and Congress gets under way in Sharjah

The global halal industry, which is gathering in Sharjah for a key exhibition and conference, is continuing its fight for uniform standards since lack of such guidelines are hampering the industry’s projected growth.

Currently the halal industry, which spans from food to medicine and tourism to cosmetics, is valued at US$3 trillion, less than half its potential value, according to a recently released international study.

Focusing on a myriad of issues ranging from standardisation to cooperation and opportunities to challenges, the second OIC Halal Middle East Exhibition and Congress got under way at Expo Centre Sharjah on December 16, 2013.

It was opened by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Salem Al Qassimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, and will run until December 18.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the second OIC Halal Middle East consists of a trade fair and a congress, is being held along with the inaugural Kitchen Equipment & Technology Exhibition Middle East.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by a host of ministers, scholars, executives and other dignitaries, including Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, OIC Secretary General, Saudi Arabia; Dato’ Hasan bin Malek, Malaysian Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism; and Mr. Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, CEO, Expo Centre Sharjah.

Others dignitaries who attended the opening included Haji Abdul Malik Kassim, Minister of State of Penang; Mufti Rafi Usmani, Grand Mufti of Pakistan & President Darul Uloom, Pakistan; Dr. Saleh H. Al Aayed, Secretary General, International Islamic Halal Organization, Saudi Arabia; Mr. Nabil A Molla, Secretary General, GCC Standardization Organization (GSO); Mr. Khaled Al Aboodi, CEO, IDB, Saudi Arabia; and Mr. Abdul Rahim Hasan Naqi, Secretary General, GCC Chamber of Commerce, Saudi Arabia.

“The halal industry has tremendous potential to grow. The factors working for the industry’s growth are plenty, right from a growing Muslim population, its spending power, increasing preference for halal products, and a region that is predominantly Muslim, among others. But if we have uniform standards, they will help further enhance movement of goods, resulting in faster growth of the industry,” said Mr. Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, endorsing the need for common standards for certification and accreditation.

Uniform standards will help in eliminating delays in supply chain due to compatibility issues in product development, packaging and distribution in individual markets, improve the credibility and effectiveness of products, and make it easier to differentiate between competing products and services.

“The show has registered a 25% rise in number of exhibitors for its very second edition. Besides, since a big chunk of the exhibitors are from the halal food and food products segment, we have decided to launch a new show that will be a good sourcing point for kitchen essentials. The inaugural Kitchen Equipment and Technology Exhibition Middle East will be a natural extension to the halal show,” added Mr. Saif Mohammed Al Midfa.

The UAE has become the focal point of the global halal industry, given that Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority has been mandated by Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to formulate new halal regulations and codes for food, and cosmetics & perfumes to be implemented in all Islamic countries.

The global halal industry is also keenly watching the developments in the GCC, which had announced that it is considering making it mandatory for all meat imported into the region to carry a halal stamp. A set of guidelines for halal certification bodies in the UAE is also in the works, apart from a unified code for halal products that is valid for the whole of GCC.

More than 125 of the world’s leading halal manufacturers and distributors from over 35 countries are taking take part in the exhibition, while more than 200 delegates are attending the congress, which is taking up issues like growing opportunities, certification norms, banking, and the processes and procedures involved in the industry.

“There are hundreds of halal certification bodies in countries where halal products are sold, creating confusion among consumers and authorities. Halal norms should be uniform, applicable to all countries and regions in the world, especially since the halal market is the fastest growing in the world,” Mr. Asad Sajjad, CEO of Halal Development Council of Pakistan and Co-Organizer of the Halal Congress Middle East.

The Kitchen Equipment & Technology Exhibition is the region’s first single-point sourcing platform for the hospitality & catering sector, providing easy access to latest kitchen essentials such as food storage, preparation and handling technologies & products.

The highlight of the show is the Chef’s Corner, which is presenting live demonstrations on using kitchen equipment, new technology & multi-tasking, and seminars & workshops to visitors, courtesy the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA Dubai).

The seminar on industrial and catering equipment will be addressed by Chef Colin Campbell of Abela & Co., while the Coffee Workshop will be managed by Mr. Gautam KS of Marco Beverage Systems.

The events will run from 16th to 18th December at Expo Centre Sharjah. Timings are from 10am to 6pm on 16th & 17th December and 10am to 5pm on 18th December.