Further to the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in boosting the status of the country as the Global Capital for Islamic Economy, the secretary-general office of the International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF) has started the groundwork in solidifying the presence of the world’s first Halal international accreditation network.

IHAF, the first international accreditation entity related to Halal to be based in the UAE, is now finalising the drafting of its by-law that will be deliberated by its general assembly in November this year. Following the approval of its by- law, IHAF will expand its multi-lateral agreements with major food and product exporting countries.

IHAF’s 10 founding members include Dubai Municipality (Dubai Accreditation Center), Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (Emirates National Accreditation System), American Association for Laboratory Accreditation, Pakistan National Accreditation Council, Entidad Nacional de Acreditacion (Spain), GCC Accreditation Center, Saudi Accreditation Committee, United Kingdom Accreditation Service, Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand, and National Council for Accreditation Egypt.

H.E. Mohamed Saleh Badri, Secretary-General of IHAF, said: “The rate of growth witnessed in the Halal market shows that by 2030 it can be the biggest industry in the world. However, although Halal standards and processes are based on the universal principles and teachings of Islam, the Halal industry is yet to use one universal set of determinants and one all-encompassing mark.”

“More than a hundred Halal marks are currently being used all over the globe. IHAF’s ultimate mission is to unify Halal criteria and Halal practices and generate a global agreement among the authorities that would ease the flow of Halal goods between countries and create a Halal market consumers can trust,” he added.

Based on a report by Thomson Reuters, the global expenditure in Halal food sector alone stood at $1.128 trillion in 2014 and this is expected to grow to $1.585 trillion by 2020. The global market for Halal food and lifestyle sector including travel, fashion, media and recreation, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics was valued at $1.8 trillion in 2014. This is estimated to increase up to $2.6 trillion by 2020.

While the Islamic Economy can be considered an excellent opportunity to promote the Halal industries and Halal-based business across the world, it faces structural and operational challenges in the area of regulation, standardisation, compliance, supply chain integrity, innovations, research and development, consumer education and awareness.

“Despite the challenges, the growth rate of Halal products and services has been significantly high. It is high time that a committed global effort amongst governments and all Halal stakeholders be done. It is about time that we establish innovative, reliable compliance schemes that are acceptable to one and all,” he concluded.

Spearheaded by the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA), IHAF is anchored on the belief that greater cooperation among regional and international organisations is the key in creating a Halal industry that is strong, stable, reliable and responsive to the needs of consumers and businesses across the world.

IHAF is an independent, non-government network of accreditation agencies all mandated to enforce Halal standards in their countries and regions. It is empowered by its aim to protect the growing number of Halal consumers, to facilitate international trade, and to establish a solid ground for the global industry of Halal food and non-food products.