Monday, 31 October 2022

Bright outlook for plant-based food

The global plant-based food market is set to be worth US$34 B by 2030, according to Growth Market Reports.

Global Plant-based Food Market by Types (Seafood Substitute, Egg Substitute, Meat Substitute, Dairy Substitute, and Others), Sources (Pea, Wheat, Nuts, Soybean, and Others), Distribution Channels (Online Retail, Specialty Stores, Convenience Stores, Modern Groceries, and Others), and Regions: Size, Share, Trends, and Opportunity Analysis, 2021-2030 states that the market was valued at US$10 B in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12% till 2030.

Research highlights:

- The modern groceries segment is expected to hold a major market share in the coming years, owing to the appealing discounts, shelf space, and bundling tactics.

- Athlete-led and celebrity awareness campaigns have encouraged the consumption of vegetarian products in order to have a healthy diet.

- High costs associated with the products and raw materials is anticipated to hamper the market growth during the forecast period.

- Collaborations between key players in the plant-based food market and restaurants, large chains, as well as industry titans including Beyond Meat, Oatly, and Impossible Foods will drive growth.

The dairy substitute segment is anticipated to expand at a sustainable CAGR during the forecast period, due to the nutritional advantages of plant-based dairy alternatives. Dairy substitutes are prioritised by many people due to lactose intolerance and concerns over animal cruelty in conventional dairy farming practices.

The soy segment is expected to grow at a significant pace during the forecast period, due to the wide applications in various food and beverage sectors including bakery, meat, and dairy alternatives. Soy is less expensive as compared to other sources and is increasingly accepted by consumers.

Brands profiled in the report include:

- Plamil Foods 

- Sahmyook Foods

- Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company

- The Hain Celestial Group 

- Taifun –Tofu 

- Unilever 

- VBIte Food


Buy the report

Sunday, 30 October 2022

BioCell Collagen receives halal certification

BioCell Collagen, a clinically-studied dietary supplement ingredient with more than 20 years of safe and effective use, is now recognised as halal-certified by Islamic Information Documentation and Certification (IIDC).

The IIDC is an independent and internationally-accredited inspection and certification centre for halal foods and services. It is officially recognised by organisations such as the Saudi Food & Drug Authority, The Central Islamic Council of Thailand, JAKIM Malaysia and HAK Turkey.

Collagen ingredients are complex and various methods need to be used to characterise the quality of the ingredient at the supply level.

"The halal product category is growing, and more consumers are looking for the IIDC halal symbol as it affirms the product's commitment to safety and health," said Mohammed Ishaq, CEO of BioCell Technology.

"It's important to us to reach and serve those who seek halal-certified products, and BioCell Collagen meets those strict standards."

BioCell Collagen addresses the physiological degradation of connective tissue. More than a decade of research, including seven human clinical trials, shows that BioCell Collagen can combat visible signs of ageing, such as wrinkles, fine lines and crow's feet, while providing internal support for healthy connective tissues and joints. This is achieved as a result of BioCell Collagen's unique composition of naturally-occurring hydrolysed collagen type II peptides, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid.

"With this new specification, we look forward to supporting more consumers who want more youthful-looking skin, active joints and healthy connective tissue as they incorporate BioCell Collagen into their daily dietary supplement and nutrition routines," said Ishaq.

Sunday, 23 October 2022

Madinah joins SDG Cities Global Initiative

Madinah in KSA has signed a letter of intent with the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) to join its SDG Cities Global Initiative.

This reflects the commitment of the Madinah Region Development Authority to ensure an inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable city. Madinah's efforts are focused on the wellbeing of citizens and to advance in the direction of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDG Cities Global Initiative is intended to catalyse local governments' sustainability efforts and build their capacity to localise the SDG. It also aims to celebrate cities for their sustainable development achievements by sharing their promising practices and policies globally. Under this initiative, UN-Habitat provides planning tools, expert assistance, financing, and publicity incentives.

Madinah City is the capital of Madinah Province in KSA. As of 2020, its population is an estimated 1.5 million. 

Aerial view of the Prophet's Mosque at night.
Source: Madinah Region Development Authority. Located in Madinah City, the Prophet's Mosque was built by the last prophet, Muhammad (), in 622. Muhammad is also buried here.

Tuesday, 11 October 2022

Divine renames app to 'Islam Divine'

Divine, the community project that leverages space technologies to broadcast the Quran from space,  today announced that it has renamed its mobile app to Islam Divine to make it easier to be found by users on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Formerly known as Divine Live, Islam Divine features an enhanced user interface (UI) that includes a day/night switch, wallpapers, and colours inspired by Islamic art. 

For those new to Islam, or keen in accessing more information on it, the developers have added a chat, where users can ask questions on Islam. More information has also been added on the daily obligatory prayers.

Users who are more well-versed in Islamic teachings can now save and copy content from the Quran, du'a' and hadith (prayers and associated accounts) on the app. A new bookmarking feature allows users to save their spot in the religious text.

Divine was founded in 2021 to dispel misconceptions and stereotypes of the teachings of the Quran and to present a better understanding of what the Quran is for young and new Muslim communities, and the world.

By hosting information in terrestrial servers in space, Divine is able to transmit the teachings of the Quran to a wider audience due to the large coverage area afforded by the satellite. The content is transmitted from space to several platforms built for the Divine project, including the Divine official site; as well as the Islam Divine app.

Divine is operated and managed by Eurasian Space Ventures (ESV), a private company registered in Kazakhstan which aims to serve as an international hub for space projects and related organisations looking to capitalise on the well-established space infrastructure and ecosystem in the country. It is an initiative under the I AM PART OF global charity foundation established by entrepreneur Shukhrat Ibragimov.

Saturday, 8 October 2022

Modest fashion extravaganza kicks off in Indonesia

Bank Indonesia (BI), the Indonesian Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs, and the Indonesian Fashion Chamber (IFC), as part of the Indonesia Sharia Economic Festival (ISEF), kicked off the inaugural Indonesia International Modest Fashion Festival 2022 (IN2MOTIONFEST 2022) in Jakarta, Indonesia on 6 October.

The five-day festival covered deluxe ready-to-wear fashion, streetwear, eveningwear, cocktailwear, and officewear.

"Indonesia's inaugural global modest fashion festival has been a huge success. It is expected to become the biggest international modest fashion festival. This can be done through strengthening the branding of Indonesia's modest fashion, increasing capacity and network between domestic and global business actors. We'll continue to nurture Indonesia's cultural heritage and share it with the world," said Governor of Bank Indonesia Perry Warjiyo.

Attendees caught up to 1,256 looks of wastra* Nusantara from designers such as Dian Pelangi, Itang Yunasz, Khanaan, Laudya Chintya Bella, Syahrir Nurdin from Malaysia, Yod Koko from Thailand, as well as A3 from France X Emmy Thee.

"Wastra from Sabang to Merauke, such as songket, ikat, lurik and batik, have been the highlights of this year's festival. It is amazing to share our cultural heritage with the world and see the same joy we feel when seeing these amazing fabrics," said Ali Charisma, National Chairman of the IFC.

"By involving hundreds of designers with the use of 14 types of wastra, we hope that in the future more stakeholders will be involved in the effort to make Indonesia a trendsetter in the world's modest fashion industry," added the Minister from the Indonesian Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs Teten Masduki.

According to Statistics Indonesia (BPS), Indonesia is the world's 13th exporter of Muslim clothing in 2021 with the value amounting to USD 4.68 billion, up by 12.49 percent compared to 2020. 

*Wastra derives from Sanskrit and means "handwoven textile". The term has rich cultural and historical meaning. Most wastra are made by skilled artisans, and much appreciated for their beauty.

Thursday, 6 October 2022

Tan Sri Dr Mohd Daud Bakar receives Royal Award for Islamic Finance 2022

The Royal Award for Islamic Finance 2022 (The Royal Award) has been bestowed onto Tan Sri Dr Mohd Daud Bakar by the King of Malaysia, HM the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. 

Tan Sri Dr Mohd Daud, an eminent shari’ah scholar, is widely recognised for his contributions to the development of the global Islamic finance industry. He currently serves as Chairman of the Shariah Advisory Council for both Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC). He is also a shari’ah board member of international financial institutions and organisations such as Amundi Asset Management (France), Bank of London and Middle East, Dow Jones Islamic Market Index (New York), Morgan Stanley (Dubai), and Sedco Capital (KSA).

Tan Sri Dr Mohd Daud is additionally instrumental in developing the first shari'ah standard on gold issued by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). His multidisciplinary knowledge has helped bridge the application of shari’ah principles in modern Islamic finance, leading to further advancement of the industry. 

Tan Sri Dr Mohd Daud was also a former President of International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). In addition, he has established a few shari’ah advisory services and fintech companies, contributing to shari’ah-related framework and policies, product structuring, human capital development and technology solutions. 

A prominent figure in Islamic finance thought leadership, Tan Sri Dr.Mohd Daud Bakar is also an award-winning author, with more than 40 books written in various genres. His books shed light on modern scholars’ interpretation of shari'ah rulings and its practical application in the Islamic finance industry. He has published numerous articles in academic journals, some of which were presented at established international conferences. 

Jury Chairman Tun Musa Hitam said, “The Jury went through a stringent and rigorous selection process on the merits and achievements of each nominee before arriving at a final decision. As a respected shari’ah scholar, author and entrepreneur, Tan Sri Dr Mohd Daud Bakar has played a prominent role in shaping the global Islamic finance industry. He is widely recognised for his contributions in advancing shari’ah thought leadership in Islamic finance.” 

The Royal Award, established in 2010, is a biennial award jointly organised by Bank Negara Malaysia and the Securities Commission Malaysia as part of the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) initiative to recognise and honour individuals who have excelled in advancing Islamic finance globally through their outstanding contributions and achievements. 

Past recipients include Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (2018); Professor Datuk Dr Rifaat Ahmed Abdel Karim, former CEO of the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (2016); Dato’ Dr Abdul Halim Ismail, founding member of Malaysia’s first Islamic bank (2014); Dato’ Paduka Iqbal Khan, CEO of Fajr Capital (2012); and the late Shaikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel, founder of the Dallah al Baraka Group (2010).

MIFC Leadership Council to guide Malaysia's progress as an international Islamic finance gateway

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) have announced the establishment of the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) Leadership Council. The Council will provide industry stewardship to enhance Malaysia’s proposition as a global marketplace and as an international gateway for Islamic finance. 

The MIFC Leadership Council will provide thought leadership as well as drive strategy formulation and monitoring industry initiatives to solidify Malaysia’s leading position in Islamic finance. It is expected to catalyse industry developments towards nurturing new ideas, deepen and diversify strategic linkages with international partners and strengthen MIFC global advocacy. 

Appointed for a term of three years, the Council members will be guided by national strategic development plans, including BNM’s Financial Sector Blueprint 2022 - 2026 and the SC’s Capital Market Masterplan 3 (CMP3). Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar will lead the Council as the Chairman, with council members comprising prominent local and international industry figures as well as representatives from BNM and SC. 

In undertaking its mandates, the Council will leverage the expertise of and collaborate with experts from the financial, corporate and academic fraternity as well as relevant authorities and agencies, to advance areas of mutual interest and support deliberation of industry’s initiatives.

Emerging Leader Prize and Impact Challenge Prize 2022 winners announced

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) have shared the winners’ list for the Emerging Leader Prize and the Impact Challenge Prize in conjunction with The Royal Award for Islamic Finance 2022

The Impact Challenge Prize was awarded to duithape and Pod for their innovative solutions in Islamic finance. The prize recognises digital and innovative solutions based on Islamic finance principles that aim to improve the economic and social resilience of financially-impacted communities worldwide. 

This prize is jointly organised with the World Bank Group Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Finance Hub in Malaysia and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). The organisers received 50 applications from 14 countries. Twenty-five teams were then shortlisted to join an Accelerator Programme, after which the two winners were selected. 

Duithape, with roots in Indonesia, is a biometric-based mass payment system focusing on the unbanked. The digital payment system enables financial providers to disburse shari’ah-compliant microfinancing via a cashless in-merchant transaction to micro and SME borrowers, including those in remote areas. 

Pod is a financial wellbeing platform for gig workers and the underserved in Southeast Asia. This Malaysian solution helps users save money and access shari’ah microfinancing and financial products. The platform also uses artificial intelligence (AI) to build credit records for borrowers that give them better access to financing products from banks. 

The Emerging Leader Prize recognises young international talent who have made outstanding contributions in advancing innovative ideas in the field of Islamic finance. The inaugural prize was awarded to Umar Abdullah Mahmud Munshi, the co-founder and Group MD of Ethis Group. 

Ethis is involved in fintech, impact investment, and Islamic crowdfunding platforms and has facilitated investments from over 50 countries to fund small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and social housing projects. 

The Islamic finance community widely sees Umar as a pioneer in fintech and crowdfunding for Islamic finance. He is the president of the Islamic Fintech Alliance founders' group, a global group that encourages collaboration and learning among members, from more than 10 countries. Umar also serves in numerous advisory capacities to advance Islamic social finance, community empowerment, and social enterprises.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Sungrow delivers 13 microgrid projects in Lebanon

Sungrow, the global inverter and energy storage system (ESS) supplier for renewables, is delivering 13 microgrid projects in Lebanon with its flagship commercial and industrial (C&I) energy storage system, the ST129CP-50HV.

The projects will overcome electricity shortages caused by weak and insufficient city utilities and reduce traditional diesel generators' CO2 emissions.

According to Sungrow, the Lebanese are experiencing regular and more frequent power outages that can last for as much as 22 hours. This situation is driving the need for renewable energy installations.

The ST129CP-50HV features a power conversion system as well as batteries, saving space and streamlining the installation process. The modular design also enables more flexibility.

"Sungrow's ESS solutions supplied in this microgrid provide a 24-hour supply for these projects and make it independent from pollutive diesel generation. This leads the company and even other businesses in this country towards low-carbon development," said Alvin Shi, MD of Sungrow MENA Region.

"Lebanon is a perfect place to install solar projects with over 300 sunshine days per year, a potential market to decentralise its electricity supply with more innovative solutions. Sungrow is poised to contribute to its transition journey with our comprehensive solar plus storage solutions in the future."

Saturday, 24 September 2022

XCO2 token found to be aligned with shari'ah principles

Carbon Market Exchange, which is uniting climate action and the financial industry to make international climate targets more accessible, has received validation that its XCO2 token is aligned with shari'ah principles. 

"It's a true honour to be aligned with shari'ah principles, and this vote of confidence from such a renowned advisory firm will help us make a big impact for many new clients in the region," said Carbon Market Exchange CEO Shenna Fortner.

Shariah Experts conducted groundbreaking research from the Islamic jurisprudential point of view in the field of carbon offsets and Blockchain-based tokens. All the aspects of XCO2, including its nature, issuance, redemption, usage, and underlying source were analysed before the certificate was granted as a non-fungible token (NFT).

"Carbon Market Exchange is doing amazing things for the conservation of the environment, and we are pleased to grant this certificate to ensure more clients can benefit from the good they're doing," said Shariah Experts Co-Founder & Director Dr Farrukh Habib. 

"Islam forbids wasting of resources and destroying the environment. It strongly emphasises on eco-friendly ideas and principles. The modern trends of sustainable environment and green economy are aligned with the teachings of Islam and shari'ah. Therefore, projects like Carbon Market Exchange should be welcomed by the Muslim fraternity."

XCO2 tokens are developed on the Ethereum Blockchain and the secondary scaling solution, Polygon. With the recent merge from the energy-consuming proof-of-work model to the environmentally conscious proof-of-stake model, Ethereum now has a place in the conservation movement.

Qatar's Museum of Islamic Art reopens

Qatar Museums has announced an exchange of exhibitions, programmes, and scholarly cooperation with New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, on the occasion of the reopening of Doha's reinstalled and reimagined Museum of Islamic Art. 

As part of the institutions' collaboration, works from The Met's collection will go on view in Doha on October 26 in the inaugural special exhibition Baghdad: Eye's Delight at the Museum of Islamic Art.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Rehlat picks top 3 summer getaways for KSA

Rehlat, an online travel agency in MENA, has chosen an oasis, a mountain range and a valley of roses as KSA's top summer getaways.

The oasis: Al Ahsa

Source: Rehlat blog post with travel inspirations for a day in Al Ahsa. A white horse looking at a beach.
Source: Rehlat blog post with travel inspirations for a day in Al Ahsa.

Al Ahsa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Guinness World record holder as the largest self-contained oasis in the world. The area hosts Jawatha Mosque, a mosque dating back 1,400 years, and Qasr Ibrahim - an Ottoman era castle that is a mix of Islamic and military architecture. 

Adventure junkies can drive a 4x4 to Yellow Lake or hike Al Qarah mountain. Yellow Lake is known for its bird life including eagles, warblers and plovers, while Al Qarah mountain features canyons and caves. 

Another World Heritage Site is Souq Al Qaisariya, a 600-year-old souq that still sells spices, prayer beads, incense and luxury goods.

The mountain: Aseer

Home to Saudi's highest peak, Jabal Sawda which is over 3,000 m high, Aseer is 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the country, making it a hot favourite in summer. Aseer has multiple peaks to conquer. Besides Jabal Sawda, there are Jabal Thera and Tanomah. 

Visit Rijal Almaa - the gingerbread village - or Al Muftaha village, which is dotted with murals, painted homes, and mosque calligraphy. 

Aseer is also where you'll find the Flower Men, who keep the ancient tradition of weaving decorative headgear with herbs, flowers and leaves alive.

The valley: Taif

Taif, also known as the city of roses, is unofficially the summer capital of KSA thanks to its pleasant climate, fragrant roses, sweeping valleys, the abundant fruits. Trek up the Al Hada mountains and zip-line across the Sarawat Mountain range. Visit the Saiysad National Park, or sample pomegranates, grapes, and figs at the source. A visit to the rose gardens is a must, as is buying rose oil on-site.


Use the booking code SAUDI to take advantage of Rehlat's special flight offer to save up to US$25 on flights to the kingdom. Get up to 12% off on hotels in KSA with the code STAY12.

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Frost & Sullivan: global halal economy to be worth nearly US$5 T by 2030

Frost & Sullivan's Global Halal Economy Growth Opportunities report is upbeat about the halal economy, with drivers from population demographics, government policies, and private sector initiatives. 

Growing non-Muslim demand for halal foods will be driven by its association with safe and healthy eating, while halal fashion and tourism should also find increasing acceptance among more conservative non-Muslim consumers, the analyst firm said. Frost & Sullivan has estimated that the global halal economy will reach US$4.96 T by 2030, more than double the US$2.3 T valuation in 2020.

"With higher levels of halal trade and Islamic finance potentially accelerating infrastructure development, the halal economy is poised to become more integrated with global trade and supply chains," said Neha Anna Thomas, Senior Economist at Frost & Sullivan. 

"Further, governments are strengthening regulatory and policy support through national masterplans and certification scope expansion, which will boost the halal industry's growth."

Thomas added: "Transparency and traceability along the halal product value chain are crucial. Due to this, governments should encourage the adoption of advanced technologies such as Blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) when developing halal economy masterplans, while businesses can partner with tech startups."

To tap into growth opportunities of the halal market, Frost & Sullivan advises:

- Global governments to seek to unify halal standards and accreditation processes to help reduce the number of certification requirements and promote halal commerce.

- Food manufacturers should collaborate with technology companies to improve traceability and transparency while increasing consumer trust.

- Global drug manufacturers and raw material suppliers should incorporate halal-certified products into their offerings, potentially through joint ventures, to tap into growing halal pharmaceutical demand from Islamic countries/