ROME – Introducing new investment opportunities to pull Europe out of crisis, World Halal Food Council has held a conference in the Italian capital to promote the production, logistics and commercialization of new investments according to Islamic standards.
"We are willing to invest in Italy, which we want to see become the hub of the Halal market in the Mediterranean," Saudi sheik Fahah Alared, a member of the Committee for Islamization of Banks, told Italian news agency (ANSA) on Monday, March 31.
Halal products are a global market worth "13 trillion per year, growing 15% every year, reaching two billion Muslims," he added.
Alared was speaking at the World Halal Food Council (WHFC) event held in Rome March 26-30.
The event organized by the Italian section of the Halal International Authority (HIA), the only organism recognized for the quality certification for products according to Islamic standards, gathered together representatives of the 57 Islamic states of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for the first time in Italy.
The message of the meeting focused on promoting the growing halal industry, including Islamic finance and other products, as a means to pull Europe out of its crisis and Italy in particular.
This goal could be achieved by following Islamic and halal food standards in "production, logistics and commercialization" consistent with the precepts of Shari`ah laws.
The concept of halal, -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Now other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
Halal food is consumed not only by 1.5 billion Muslims around the world, but also by at least 500 million non-Muslims in the $2 billion global industry.
The global market in Islamic investments is rapidly expanding, rising by 150 per cent since 2006 and expected to be worth £1.3 trillion in 2014.
During Rome meeting, attendants signed a new protocol agreement that announced the birth of “Italy Halal Hub”.
"We have signed an protocol agreement with the Government Agency of Malaysia for the development of the Halal market (and) for the birth of the 'Italy Halal Hub'," sheikh Alared told ANSA.
In this way "Malaysia, the largest Halal market in the world, will make its experience available to Italy, which will become the leading Halal hub in Europe, serving countries of the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, the Balkans and obviously European countries," the sheik added.
Development would be based on "Islamic financing, which does not allow the application of interest, as it would be a capital sin" and see "investment through equity partnerships and the acquisition of company shares" with direct action "also in failing companies".
The new halal hub would include investments in food, clothing, tourism, medicines and even cosmetics.
Among the 270 Italian companies that are already Halal-certified, many have seen production "grow to point of not being able to keep up with orders coming from southeast Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia," according to Alared.
These companies would meet with sheiks "willing to open new branches and hire personnel".
"We are ready to invest also in infrastructure, but Italy must guarantee us official recognition of the Halal market, making certification mandatory among companies that are interested," he added.
Italy has a Muslim population of some 1.7 million, including 20,000 reverts, according to the figures released by Istat, the national statistics agency.
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