LONDON: More than 20,000 foodies from across the globe flocked to the UK capital, London, for a flavorful weekend to attend the annual World Halal Food Festival, organizers said.
Now in its eighth year, the event is considered the biggest and longest-running halal food festival in the world, and was held on Sept. 23-24 at the London Stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
“I’ve been here from the beginning and it’s been incredible to watch it grow,” Shelina Permalloo, winner of UK Master Chef 2012, told Arab News. “And we’re growing from strength to strength, getting new chefs in all the time.”
Permalloo hosted the “World Cookery Theater,” along with Master Chef 2023 runner-up, Omar Foster. The two cooked some of the signature dishes that they prepared during their time on Master Chef.
“It’s just been incredible,” she said. “Lots of fun, very busy and lots of great food.”
Islam is the second-largest religion in Britain, and the Muslim population has risen by 1.2 million in 10 years, bringing the total to 3.9 million in 2021, or 6.5 percent, according to census figures, up from 4.4 percent in 2011.
The halal market in the UK is growing at a remarkable rate and its overall value is estimated to be between £1 billion ($1.2 billion) and £2 billion, according to the Halal Monitoring Committee — the largest halal certifying body in the country.
Iman Mustafa, chief operator of the British Islamic Trade Association, said that their role was to promote, facilitate and support the businesses that supply halal products and services.
“Our aim and our mission is to grow the halal economy within the UK and globally,” she said.
Waleed Jahangir, founder and chief executive officer of Algebra Festivals, said: “One of the reasons we decided to set up the World Halal Food Festival was to use food to break down social barriers and misconceptions within the Muslim community.
“It was a way to create a platform to engage all communities using food as a vehicle, and that’s what we’ve done by bringing different genres of people from all different faiths and backgrounds to enjoy food around a table.”