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.”


Tonda delivers authentic Italian flavors at the double

The Italian establishment’s first GCC branch is a welcome addition to the Dubai scene. (Supplied)
Updated 19 August 2019

Tonda delivers authentic Italian flavors at the double

DUBAI: With organic ingredients and an eye-popping variety of authentic Italian dishes, the Dubai-based Tonda Pizza is a perfect choice for fast-casual dining.

The roots of the business lie as far back as 1948. The Italian founders apparently used to sell pizza to holidaymakers on the beach in Pescara, by the Adriatic Sea. The small-pan pizzas were ideal for people who wanted to grab a snack on the go.

Tonda Pizza has multiple branches around the world and is planning to bring its concept to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but its first regional outlet opened recently in Index Tower, in Dubai International Financial Center.

At the doorstep of the restaurant, you will be welcomed by the friendly staff who are enthusiastic and happy to serve you. Some of the Italian words may be hard to understand, but the waiters will be able to answer any questions.

The interior is cosy and just as welcoming as the staff. The atmosphere is classy, relaxed, and quiet. For the many employees in the area, this is a great spot to take your mind of work for a while.

The restaurant serves a seemingly endless variety of pasta and pizza made with organic flour, olive oil, and tomatoes imported from Italian farms. It also offers a range of special homemade starters and desserts.

Tonda, meaning ‘round,’ offers “guilt-free” pizzas. The thin crispy slices are full of authentic Italian flavor, but the dough does not contain animal fats, and it’s gluten-free.

It always fun to watch your food being cooked right in front of you, and Tonda’s open kitchen means you can do just that. The service is impressively fast, too.  The meal is best accompanied by one of Tonda’s traditional Italian drink offerings, which include Chinotto, Gassosa, Limonata, and Spuma. 

The tasty burrata salad was a more-than-generous and delicious starter. Fresh balls of cheese decorated the bowl, which was overloaded with mixed tomatoes and fresh basil.

Next up was a delightful range of pizza. Thick mozzarella cheese (10 out of 10 on the cheese-pull test), shreds of well-cooked beef, and a sprinkling of rocca leaves coated each slice of the thin-crust bresaola, while the tartufo boasted a delicious truffle spread and mushroom topping.

The undeniable highlight of the meal, however, was the salamino pizza. Its spiciness might make your eyes water as well as your mouth, but it was well worth it. The salamino was topped with organic peeled tomatoes, spicy beef salami, extra virgin olive oil, and decorated with oregano leaves.

The pasta that accompanied the bolognaise gave a good firm bite — perfect for those who like their Italian cooked al dente. The portion was ideal for one person. 


Once you are done with the main course, the restaurant offers a tasty selection of desserts too. We’d recommend its unique Nutella pizza topped with sliced bananas as a must-try.   

Tonda may be a little on the expensive side for what is, essentially, fast food (albeit high-quality fast food) — an appetizer, main course and beverage could cost up to $21 — but we’d say it’s worth the price for some tasty, healthy fresh Italian fare.