New think tank to develop Europe’s halal economy

New think tank to develop Europe’s halal economy
Halal food in a supermarket in Nantes, western France, September 7, 2010. (Reuters)
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Updated 08 April 2021

New think tank to develop Europe’s halal economy

New think tank to develop Europe’s halal economy
  • Across food and finance, think tank takes aim at continent’s growing Shariah-compliant economy
  • Europe’s young, growing Muslim population presents major business opportunity for companies, executive director tells Arab News

LONDON: A new think tank focused on developing Europe’s halal economy promises to provide thought leadership, policy direction and professional development for the continent’s growing Shariah-compliant economy.

“The halal economy has multiple facets including food, finance, tourism, fashion and more. However, the focus of this think tank will be the halal food and business sector, particularly Islamic finance,” said the Halal Economy Think Tank, launched by the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF) and Spain’s San Telmo Business School.

“The first initiative the Halal Economy Think Tank will undertake would be aimed at food companies as well as entrepreneurs who want to tap into the ever-growing halal food market in Europe, through an executive program to be launched by the end of 2021.”

Based in Seville and Malaga, Spain, the think tank’s launch comes as competition in Europe’s Islamic finance sector heats up.

Spurred in part by Brexit, European nations — including the UK, Ireland and Luxembourg — have increasingly been vying for the status of European hub of Islamic finance. Experts see no signs that this trend is abating.

“The Halal Economy Think Tank will also provide a series of policy papers on these issues, which will be issued by the BIBF Islamic Finance Centre given its considerable experience in this space as the oldest Islamic finance professional qualifications provider in the world,” the think tank said.

Mujtaba Khalid, head of the Islamic Finance Centre and executive director of the think tank, told Arab News: “The Muslim population in Europe has grown steadily over the past 50 years, both in terms of numbers as well as net worth. This growth will pick up considerably over the coming years.”

He added: “By 2050, Muslims will comprise roughly 14 percent of the total population of Europe. Couple this with the fact that the Muslim demographic in Europe is much younger, we see a big market opportunity in the European halal space.”

The think tank’s inaugural executive education program, focused on the halal food economy and due to launch in late 2021, “will enable agriculture and food entrepreneurs to leverage off this halal food business opportunity,” Khalid said.

Not only will the think tank’s launch develop the halal economy’s policy and knowledge infrastructure in Europe, it will also facilitate the continued growth of Gulf-European ties.

Tens of billions’ worth of euros are traded between the EU and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states every year.

In 2019, GCC countries exported over €40 billion ($47.5 billion) worth of goods to the EU, and imported over €70 billion worth.

Khalid said projects such as the Halal Economy Think Tank “definitely help facilitate both economic as well as people-to-people ties between the two regions. It’s hoped that we can further increase such ties going forward.”


Saudi trade name requests jump amid signs of FDI rebound

Saudi trade name requests jump amid signs of FDI rebound
Updated 37 min 31 sec ago

Saudi trade name requests jump amid signs of FDI rebound

Saudi trade name requests jump amid signs of FDI rebound
  • Requests for trade names increased by 19 percent in the first quarter of 2021

RIYADH: Saudi commercial chiefs have reported a rise in trade name requests, the latest indicator of a rebound in business activity in the Kingdom.
Requests for trade names increased by 19 percent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to a year earlier, SPA reported.
The Ministry of Commerce received 78,056 requests for trade names in the first quarter of 2021, compared to 65,716 requests a year earlier.
Most of the applications were for restaurants, cafés, contracting and foodstuffs activities — an encouraging sign from sectors that have been especially hit hard by the pandemic.
The rollout of vaccines across the Gulf states is helping businesses in some sectors get back to normal, however continued travel restrictions and the resurgence of the COVID-19 coronavirus in countries such as India has tempered earlier expectations of a strong and swift global recovery.
Still, there are also sign of rebounding foreign direct investment activity.
Sovereign AEI, a company that assists foreign investors establish a presence in the country, has also reported an increase in activity and expects to record a 50 percent rise in registrations at the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia this year.
“The Saudi market presents tremendous opportunities,” said Paul Arnold, managing director of Sovereign Saudi Arabia. “We continue to see a growing interest and increasing shift of client focus toward KSA, as the country continues to unveil new strategic initiatives.”
The Kingdom has accelerated efforts to attract foreign investment this year as the pandemic created new challenges for regional economies seeking to diversify, modernize and create jobs for citizens.
In February the government announced it would stop signing contracts with foreign companies from 2024 unless their regional headquarters were based in the Kingdom.


UAE overtakes China in $17bn US treasuries purchase

UAE overtakes China in $17bn US treasuries purchase
Updated 46 min 37 sec ago

UAE overtakes China in $17bn US treasuries purchase

UAE overtakes China in $17bn US treasuries purchase
  • China bought $9 billion of treasuries in February
  • Monthly haul was biggest ever for UAE

RIYADH: The UAE bought more US treasuries than China in February, breaking with other top oil exporters in the Arabian Gulf that cut back on their exposure to one of the world’s safest assets, Bloomberg reported.
OPEC’s third-biggest producer raised its stockpile by almost 50 percent to $50.6 billion at the end of February, an increase of nearly $17 billion that made it the second-biggest buyer of the securities that month after the UK, according to the latest figures from the US Treasury Department.
The monthly haul was the biggest ever for the UAE, with no clear reasons.
The UAE may have built up enough of a buffer to commit the spare petrodollars toward the $21 trillion treasuries market, Bloomberg said.
The move took UAE holdings to levels last seen in 2019 before the global pandemic and the crash in oil prices put pressure on its finances. China bought $9 billion of treasuries in February to bring its total to $1.1 trillion, the highest since mid-2019.
Both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were net sellers of treasuries in February.


Erdogan replaces Turkish trade minister, forms two new ministries

Erdogan replaces Turkish trade minister, forms two new ministries
Updated 21 April 2021

Erdogan replaces Turkish trade minister, forms two new ministries

Erdogan replaces Turkish trade minister, forms two new ministries
  • In a presidential decree Ruhsar Pekcan was replaced as trade minister by Mus, who has been a lawmaker for Erdogan’s AK Party since 2011

ISTANBUL: President Tayyip Erdogan appointed a prominent member of Turkey’s ruling AK Party, Mehmet Mus, as trade minister on Wednesday and split the Family, Labour and Social Policies Ministry into two ministries.
In a presidential decree Ruhsar Pekcan was replaced as trade minister by Mus, who has been a lawmaker for Erdogan’s AK Party since 2011 and served as the party’s deputy chairman in charge of the economy.
The decree, published in the Official Gazette, gave no reason for the change, but it comes after opposition politicians accused Pekcan’s ministry of buying supplies from her family-owned company and called on her to resign.
The Trade Ministry confirmed that the purchase of sanitisers had been made, but said in a statement on Tuesday the choice was based on price alone and not due to “the name of the company making the sale.”
It said that the sale, worth some 500,000 lira ($62,000), had been carried out in line with relevant regulations.
Erdogan’s overnight changes come amid speculation over a wider cabinet reshuffle, after he changed the country’s top economic management in November, including the central bank governor.
The president established two new ministries by splitting the Family, Labour and Social Policies Ministry into two separate ministries, according to the decree.
He appointed Derya Yanik as Family and Social Policies Minister and Vedat Bilgin as the Labour and Social Security Minister, replacing Zehra Zumrut Selcuk.


Saudi Arabia to raise $800m from privatization of two flour mills

Saudi Arabia to raise $800m from privatization of two flour mills
Updated 35 min 21 sec ago

Saudi Arabia to raise $800m from privatization of two flour mills

Saudi Arabia to raise $800m from privatization of two flour mills
  • The National Center for Privatization & PPP (NCP) said it completed the sale of the two mills (MC2 and MC4) to private sector investors

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is set to generate about SR3 billion ($800 million) in proceeds from the privatization of two flour mills.
The National Center for Privatization & PPP (NCP) said it completed the sale of the two mills (MC2 and MC4) to private sector investors.
A consortium that includes Abdulaziz Alajlan & Sons Company for Commercial and Real Estate Investment, Al Rajhi International for Investment, National Agricultural Development and OLAM International acquires the second milling company (MC2) for about SR2.14 billion, according to a stock exchange filing on Wednesday.
Meanwhile a consortium that includes Abdullah Al-Othaim Markets Company, Allana International Company and United Feed Manufacturing Company secured the fourth milling company for SR859 million.
Saudi Arabia is accelerating plans to privatize key infrastructure in an effort to modernize the economy, speed major infrastructure works and develop its financial services sector.


AirTag or purple iPhone? Where and when can I buy Apple’s latest launches?

AirTag or purple iPhone? Where and when can I buy Apple’s latest launches?
Updated 21 April 2021

AirTag or purple iPhone? Where and when can I buy Apple’s latest launches?

AirTag or purple iPhone? Where and when can I buy Apple’s latest launches?
  • Good news for Apple fans in the Gulf – all the new products will be available in the region as early as the end of April

DUBAI: Apple just held its first keynote event of the year – announcing new products such as a button-like accessory to help people keep track of their belongings, as well as updates for existing models including a purple iPhone 12.
Good news for Apple fans in the Gulf – all the new products will be available in the region as early as the end of April.
Here are the new products launched during the Apple event in its Cupertino headquarters, and their prices and availability status in the UAE:

AirTag
Price: Starting 129 dirhams
Availability: Pre-order starts on April 23; product is available on April 30


24-inch iMac (available in seven different colors)
Price: Starting 5,499 dirhams
Availability: Pre-order starts on April 30; product is available in the second half of May

Apple TV 4K
Price: Starting 729 dirhams
Availability: Pre-order starts on April 30; product is available in the second half of May

iPad Pro with M1 chip
Price: Starting 3,199 dirhams
Availability: Pre-order starts on April 30; product is available in the second half of May

Other announcements:
The new purple iPhone 12 has no other updates other than the color – it will be the same price as the other iPhone 12 models.
The new iOS 14.5 will be launched next week. It comes with the biggest privacy changes Apple will introduce so far, according to a statement.