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Missing the boat, Part II
Countries around the world are scrambling to jump on board the hugely lucrative halal sector, except, that is, Arab countries, Part II.
June 14, 2009 7:45 by Nathalie Bontems
Click here to read Part I.
Thinking outside the box. One of the few halal stalwarts inside the Arab world is Al Islami Foods. Established in 1981, its products have grown to include fresh and frozen chicken, meat, seafood, vegetables, and dairy products, on top of which it recently launched new dry and canned food lines. In 2007, the UAE-based company launched a five-year diversification and expansion plan dubbed “Big 5″, a major element of which is its franchise scheme, Al Islami Cart.
“In the UAE, Al Islami signed MoUs with the state-owned Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders and Alf Yad Venture Capital Fund to launch Al Islami Cart throughout the region,” says CEO Saleh Abdullah Lootah. “The concept has now been introduced in the lower Gulf, Egypt, Malaysia and, soon, in China.”
For Southeast Asian markets, Al Islami signed an MoU with Malaysian government-owned Halal Industry Development Corporation. In Egypt, the company inked a franchise agreement with Mo’men, and has forged a joint venture in Iran for processing and distributing its products. Beyond the regional arena, Al Islami Europe is in the final stage of introducing its portfolio in Britain “to tap the UK’s $4 billion halal food market,” adds Lootah.
“At a later stage, Al Islami Europe will cater to continental Europe in a bid to create Al Islami’s ‘Real Halal’ benchmark [there],” he says.
The catering and hospitality sectors beckon: in early 2007, Al Islami acquired regional chicken fast food chain Al Farooj Fresh. “There are 17 outlets and the plan is to expand regionally to 40 outlets by franchising,” says Lootah.
And halal is a tourism draw card: international hotels such as Al Jawhara or Almulla Hospitality have invested $2 billion to improve their halal-compliant branding. Last winter, Rotana Hotel announced the launch of Shari’ah-compliant brand Rayhaan Hotels and Resorts. With Muslim travellers making up 10 percent – and growing – of the world tourism market, according to the World Tourism Organization, it makes sense.