From halal meal boxes to modest menswear: Top UK Islamic economy trends for 2018

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Haute Elan expects growing interest in ‘modest’ male fashion. (Supplied)
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Romanna bint Abu Baker, founderof London Modest Fashion Week.(Supplied)
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Updated 30 December 2017
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From halal meal boxes to modest menswear: Top UK Islamic economy trends for 2018

LONDON: Gone are the days where “halal” shopping referred only to a trip to the local butchers to ask for a special cut. Muslims across the world are increasingly product-savvy, seeking out the latest consumer products that also fit their religious beliefs, spelling a boom in the so-called Islamic economy.
The year ahead ushers in trends for modest garb for men and women, Barbies with mix-and-match abaya wardrobes, and from-scratch meal kits for those who want both a tasty, and halal, dinner.
As the international Muslim population grows, the Islamic economy is expected to grow from $1.24 trillion in 2016 to reach $1.93 trillion by 2022, according to the Thomson Reuters “State of the Global Islamic Economy” report.
In the UK, in particular, which is home to around 3 million Muslims — with 1 million in London alone — the Islamic community is fueling some innovative consumer trends. The UK capital is proving to be an engine of growth for the Islamic economy in the West, with fresh startups emerging every month to tap into growing demand.
Arab News spoke with some of the UK’s top Islamic economy entrepreneurs to find out about some of the hottest trends for 2018.

‘Modest fashion’ for guys
The overall modest fashion industry is thriving in the UK, evidenced by the success of homegrown brands such as Aab and Haute Elan. This trend was crystallized with the launch of London’s first Modest Fashion Week in February 2017, where modern Muslim women flocked to buy everything from modest office wear to sports hijabs.
The trend will dip into the male domain next year, predicted Romanna bint Abu Baker, founder of London Modest Fashion Week (LMFW) and owner of modest fashion boutique, Haute Elan.
“Modesty is no longer the realm of only women. LMFW 2018 will be the start of demonstrating that shift,” Abu Baker told Arab News. “The panels and collections we have on the runway will demonstrate the emergence of the aesthetically-conscious Muslim man. We have seen a surge in applications from men. What is male modesty? Longer shirts to cover the rear, longer shirts and sweats and accessories, including more contemporary styles of … head covering,” she said.

Halal meal kits
The last few years have seen the emergence of halal convenience foods in the UK for busy working Muslims. Walli Datoo, co-founder of Halalnivore, an online gourmet halal meat delivery service, predicts there is more growth in the market as the Muslim meat consumer opens up to different options available.
“We are planning to experiment with a hybrid model between what we already do and a service that similar to a ‘Hello Fresh’ or ‘Gousto’ meal box delivered with halal ingredients,” Datoo told Arab News. “We’ll also be working on our branded ‘supper club’ to help engage consumers.”
The food entrepreneur also predicts more innovation in the restaurant space “where halal-only offerings are trying to set themselves apart from the competition.”
“Casual dining places (burgers and wraps) will be getting really creative with their menus and moving away from the traditional kebab shop and plain burger offerings,” he said.
Noman Khawaja, co-founder of Haloodies, a UK premium food retailer that sells prepared halal meats says technology and social media will play a key part in driving demand for halal food in 2018. “Consumer behavior will also be of key interest to businesses,” Khawaja told Arab News.
Haloodies launched the UK’s first handheld, halal meat snack, ‘2Go’ in the UK in 2017 and Khawaja said the firm has more launches planned for 2018.

‘Hijarbies’ and Muslim dolls
Jessica Robinson, the founder of UK-based modest sports fashion firm Shorsa, predicts steady demand for her additional product line: Muslim dolls.
The company is currently selling Shorso Mini dolls, which come with a handmade abaya and matching hijab and retail for £19.99 ($27).
The firm also sells different modest outfits specifically made for Barbie dolls. The ‘Hijarbie’ handmade outfits come in casual styles and formal styles including ball gowns and wedding dresses with sleeves. “They’re close to selling out and we’re ordering more for next year,” said Robinson.

Halal hotel boom
The UK halal-friendly travel market is growing year-on-year. In recent years, VisitBritain, the UK’s national tourism agency, has been running campaigns to target tourists from the Middle East. According to its figures, the average length of stay and average spend for Gulf markets are higher than the worldwide average.
For example, the average Saudi visitor stays for 16 nights and spends £2,370 in the UK. This compares favorably with the overall average figures for international visitors at seven nights and £599 spend respectively.
“One of the big attractions for this market in London is its choice of world cuisine halal restaurants; our guests enjoy eating out and spending money in the various halal restaurants in London. Together with other factors, such as great museums, parks and shopping streets and malls, these are hugely important factors for halal-conscious travelers to travel to London,” said Ufuk Seçgin, chief marketing officer at UK-based global travel booking site HalalBooking.com.
Seçgin predicts that more London hotels will offer basic halal-friendly services in 2018, such as the removal of alcoholic drinks from the minibar in the guest’s room, provision of prayer mats or halal food options on the hotel’s restaurant menus.

Mainstream at last
Haroon U B Latif, head of insights at research firm Dinar Standard, says he is “bullish” on the UK economy for 2018.
“The UK halal ecosystem will grow its international footprint and halal food will lead the charge at home — you’ll see halal becoming more available in mainstream outlets,” the analyst said.
Latif predicts there will be at least one “significant” private equity investment in a halal food company in 2018.


Saudi energy minister recommends driving down oil inventories, says supply plentiful

Updated 19 May 2019
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Saudi energy minister recommends driving down oil inventories, says supply plentiful

  • Oil supplies were sufficient and stockpiles were still rising despite massive output drops from Iran and Venezuela
  • Producer nations discussed how to stabilise a volatile oil market amid rising US-Iran tensions in the Gulf, which threaten to disrupt global supply

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said on Sunday he recommended “gently” driving oil inventories down at a time of plentiful global supplies and that OPEC would not make hasty decisions about output ahead of a June meeting.
“Overall, the market is in a delicate situation,” Falih told reporters before a ministerial panel meeting of top OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers, including Saudi Arabia and Russia.
While there is concern about supply disruptions, inventories are rising and the market should see a “comfortable supply situation in the weeks and months to come,” he said.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Saudi Arabia is de facto leader, would have more data at its next meeting in late June to help it reach the best decision on output, Falih said.
“It is critical that we don’t make hasty decisions – given the conflicting data, the complexity involved, and the evolving situation,” he said, describing the outlook as “quite foggy” due in part to a trade dispute between the United States and China.
“But I want to assure you that our group has always done the right thing in the interests of both consumers and producers; and we will continue to do so,” he added.
OPEC, Russia and other non-OPEC producers, an alliance known as OPEC+, agreed to reduce output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from Jan. 1 for six months, a deal designed to stop inventories building up and weakening prices.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters that different options were available for the output deal, including a rise in production in the second half of the year.
The energy minister of the United Arab Emirates, Suhail Al-Mazrouei, said oil producers were capable of filling any gap in the oil market and that relaxing supply cuts was not “the right decision.”
Mazrouei said the UAE did not want to see a rise in inventories that could lead to a price collapse and that OPEC would act wisely to maintain sustainable market balance.
“As UAE we see that the job is not done yet, there is still a period of time to look at the supply and demand and we don’t see any need to alter the agreement in the meantime,” he said.
US crude inventories rose unexpectedly last week to their highest since September 2017, while gasoline stockpiles decreased more than forecast, data from the government’s Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.
DELICATE BALANCE
Saudi Arabia sees no need to boost production quickly now, with oil at around $70 a barrel, as it fears a price crash and a build-up in inventories, OPEC sources said, adding that Russia wants to increase supply after June.
The United States, not a member of OPEC+ but a close ally of Riyadh, wants the group to boost output to bring oil prices down.
Falih has to find a delicate balance between keeping the oil market well supplied and prices high enough for Riyadh’s budget needs, while pleasing Moscow to ensure Russia remains in the OPEC+ pact, and being responsive to the concerns of the United States and the rest of OPEC+, the sources said earlier.
Sunday’s meeting of the ministerial panel, known as the JMMC, comes amid concerns of a tight market. Iran’s oil exports are likely to drop further in May and shipments from Venezuela could fall again in coming weeks due to US sanctions.
Oil contamination also forced Russia to halt flows along the Druzhba pipeline — a key conduit for crude into Eastern Europe and Germany — in April. The suspension, as yet of unclear duration, left refiners scrambling to find supplies.
Russia’s Novak told reporters that oil supplies to Poland via the pipeline would start on Monday.
OPEC’s agreed share of the cuts is 800,000 bpd, but its actual reduction is far larger due to the production losses in Iran and Venezuela. Both are under US sanctions and exempt from the voluntary reductions under the OPEC-led deal.
REGIONAL TENSIONS
Oil prices edged lower on Friday due to demand fears amid a standoff in Sino-US trade talks, but both benchmarks ended the week higher on rising concerns over disruptions in Middle East shipments due to US-Iran political tensions.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are running high after last week’s attacks on two Saudi oil tankers off the UAE coast and another on Saudi oil facilities inside the Kingdom.
Riyadh accused Tehran of ordering the drone strikes on oil pumping stations, for which Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi militia claimed responsibility. 
Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs said on Sunday that the Kingdom wants to avert war in the region but stands ready to respond with “all strength” following the attacks.
“Although it has not affected our supplies, such acts of terrorism are deplorable,” Falih said. “They threaten uninterrupted supplies of energy to the world and put a global economy that is already facing headwinds at further risk.”
The attacks come as the United States and Iran spar over Washington’s tightening of sanctions aimed at cutting Iranian oil exports to zero, and an increased US military presence in the Gulf over perceived Iranian threats to US interests.