Inside Malaysia’s fast-growing halal beauty market

Images posted on Instagram shows some of the "halal" beauty products of SimplySiti, founded by Malaysia’s "queen of entertainment", Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza Tarudin. (Courtesy: Instagram)
Updated 04 February 2019

Inside Malaysia’s fast-growing halal beauty market

  • Malaysia wants to be global halal hub
  • Two-thirds of world’s Muslim population in Asia-Pacific

KUALA LUMPUR: The word halal is most commonly associated with food and drink. But in Malaysia demand for halal-certified products across all sectors — including personal care — is growing.

The southeast Asian country wants to be a global halal hub and, in 2017, the local halal industry contributed approximately 7.5 percent to Malaysia’s gross domestic product.

“Malaysia once again leads the Global Islamic Economy Indicator for the fifth year in a row,” Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in his opening address at World Halal Week last April. “This impressive lead reflects a robust Islamic economy ecosystem, with Malaysia enjoying a substantial lead in Islamic finance and halal food.”

The ecosystem includes banks to provide Islamic finance, the Health Ministry and the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to set the halal certification standard, and trade agencies such as Matrade to handle the business and marketing side.

Halal cosmetics must be free from alcohol, blood and parts or substances from animals that have not been slaughtered according to Islamic practices.

SimplySiti, founded by singer Siti Nurhaliza, offers cosmetic, fragrance and skincare products that are halal-certified.

Mainstream firms have also jumped on the halal bandwagon, such as Clara International, Johnson & Johnson, Silky Girl and Wipro Unza. Sunsilk claims it is the first haircare line in Malaysia for hijab-wearing women.

Accessibility has also improved, with products available in supermarkets and drugstore chains, as well as through online marketplaces such as PrettySuci and Aladdin Street. 

Some products even claim to be ablution-friendly, meaning water can penetrate the product to reach the skin and cleanse it. 

But some firms have yet to break into the market and not all Muslim consumers are aware of the availability and diversity of halal beauty and personal care products.

“I do not really check for the halal label because in Malaysia I assumed everything is halal,” 30-year-old Abir Abdul Rahman told Arab News, adding that most of her friends did not actively check for the halal label when purchasing makeup or skincare items.

Siti Nurul Hidayah Ishak, a 33-year-old lawyer, said she supported the idea of halal beauty products but did not know which ones were certified. 

“I do not particularly pay attention whether a product is certified halal or not. Nonetheless, I check the labels to ensure there are no non-halal ingredients in the products I purchase,” she told Arab News.

Two-thirds of the global Muslim population is in the Asia-Pacific region. The Muslim population is young and has good socio-economic prospects according to Pew Research.

Thomson Reuters estimates that Muslim consumers will account for $73 billion worth of spending on cosmetics by 2019, or 8.2 percent of the global expenditure.

In Malaysia, the total trade volume for personal care and cosmetics products was about $2.24 billion in 2015. Half of the demand was met by imports.

Some Muslim consumers in Malaysia were skeptical about the boom in halal-certified beauty products. 

Mohani Niza, 31, said she was more concerned about her products being vegetarian or cruelty free. 

“I have no grievance against halal beauty products,” she told Arab News. “But my suspicion is that the halal beauty industry is a marketing gimmick. It plays on the ignorance and insecurities of some Muslims who may be led to be believe that whatever product that doesn't have the halal label is automatically haram.”


‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition in Riyadh museum breathes new life into ancient sites 

Updated 19 April 2019

‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition in Riyadh museum breathes new life into ancient sites 

  • National Museum in Riyadh hosts digital show that tells the story of Mosul, Palmyra, Aleppo and Leptis Magna

JEDDAH: An exhibition that uses digital technology to revive the region’s ancient sites and civilizations that have been destroyed or are under threat due to conflict and terrorism opened at the National Museum in Riyadh on April 18.

“Age-Old Cities” tells the story of four historically significant cities that have been devastated by violence: Mosul in Iraq, Palmyra and Aleppo in Syria, and Leptis Magna in Libya. 

Using stunning giant-screen projections, virtual reality, archival documents and images, and video testimonials from inhabitants of the affected sites, the immersive exhibition transports visitors back in time and presents the cities as they were in their prime. 

It charts their journey from the origins of their ancient civilizations to their modern-day state, and presents plans for their restoration and repair. 

The exhibition has been organized by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Riyadh is the first stop outside the French capital on the exhibition’s global tour. 

The exhibition follows last month’s unveiling of the Kingdom’s new cultural vision, which included the announcement of several initiatives, including a new residency scheme for international artists to practice in the Kingdom and the establishment of the Red Sea International Film Festival. 

Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, minister of culture, said: “I am delighted to welcome the ‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition to Riyadh. 

“It highlights the importance of heritage preservation, particularly here in the Middle East, and the vulnerability of some of our historic sites. 

“It must be the responsibility of governments to put an end to this damage and neglect, and to put heritage at the heart of action, investment, and policy.

“I will be encouraging my fellow members of government to attend this eye-opening exhibition in our National Museum, and hope to work in the future with partners, governments and experts to do what we can to secure our region’s heritage.”

The exhibition carries a significant message about the importance of preserving and protecting these precious but fragile sites — one which resonates strongly in the week when one of the world’s most-famous heritage sites, Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral, went up in flames.