The growing popularity of halal tourism
Halal tourism was a key focus at Arabian Travel Market 2017.
Dubai - Muslim majority countries represent more than $7 trillion GDP
By Saad Maniar
Published: Thu 27 Apr 2017, 9:00 PM
Last updated: Thu 27 Apr 2017, 11:03 PM
The burgeoning islamic economy is one of the fastest growing segments of the global financial industry, driven mostly by the key Islamic principles and values such as the concept of halal trading, Shariah finance, traditional values like modesty and halal tourism.
With a consumer base of predominantly young 1.7 billion Muslims around the world, growing at two times the rate of the global population, the influence of the fast growing and relatively young population of Muslims is increasingly being felt in the marketplace on industries such as finance, entertainment, travel and healthcare to products as varied as cosmetics, food and fashion.
According to the International Monetary Fund, the global economy is entering "secular stagnation" due to a decline in investments and an ageing population, however, the Islamic economy stands in stark contrast offering the most viable solution to global economic growth and success in the 21st century.
The 58 mostly-Muslim majority countries of the world represent more than $7 trillion gross domestic product and some of the fastest-growing global economies that stretch from Indonesia in the East to Turkey in the west with the Arabian Gulf states at their centre. Their influence stretches beyond Muslim-majority countries as more than 350 million Muslims reside as minorities in many nations, with largely affluent ones living in the West and large populations residing in the emerging nations of India, China, and Russia.
Driven by a growing demand, halal tourism is one sector that is powering the Islamic economy. It should be of no surprise then, that today, Muslim-friendly travel has transcended the paradigm of the Islamic economy to become a major sector within the wider global economy itself. According to a recent report by the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC), global Muslim spending on travel (outbound) is currently estimated to be $142 billion (excluding Hajj and Umrah) making the Muslim travel market 11 per cent of global expenditure. No wonder even non-Muslim markets from Spain to Japan are vying to invest in this market.
Numerous successes highlighted in the DIEDC report show the growing importance of this sector. This include Halalbooking.com, a travel search and booking website for Halal-conscious travelers, which has achieved tremendous success, with their bookings for their Turkey based hotels amounting to millions per resort. Yamsafer, a hotel booking startup, raised a $3.5 million from Global Founders Capital. Nevertheless, the global trends indicate a prosperous future for this sector as none other than the home of the Islamic economy, Dubai, is currently building hotels faster than any other city in the world.
Muslims today are reengaging their traditional values for modern times. From halal food sector to modest fashion, from pharmaceuticals and cosmetics to Shariah finance, the potential market universe for the core Islamic economy and services categories is enormous, and this presents a great opportunity for businesses to enter and profit from this rising global market.
The writer is a senior partner at Crowe Horwath UAE. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy