TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—There is a general misconception among those unfamiliar with Islam that halal only regulates food eaten by Muslims, but it has since branched out to cover many industries including finance, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, logistics, tourism, hotels and even the fashion industry, said Irina Abd Rahman, Associate Director of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Risk Services in Malaysia at a forum hosted by the company’s Taipei office.

The global halal industry is estimated to be worth US$3.66 trillion, with the food and lifestyle expenditure estimated to reach US$2.0 trillion, and in US$1.66 trillion in Islamic finance assets, according to the State of the Global Islamic Economy 2016/17 report released by Global Islamic Economic Gateway.

Eyeing the rising purchase power of Muslims among Southeast Asia countries, which is estimated to reach US$289.9 billion by 2030, the Malaysian government has set up a large Halal Park that spans 77,000 hectares in Sarawak to train 10,000 qualified halal workers per year to meet the region’s surging Muslim population.

Demand for halal experts now reaches close to 50,000 because of the diversifying industry sectors and products it covers, estimated Abd Rahman.

To apply for the Malaysia Halal Certification (MHC), a company must have at least one Muslim that is a halal expert, said Dhaliff Anuar, Manager of PwC Risk Services in Malaysia.

The halal food industry has since moved to incorporate other industries, such as cosmetics where there is a large demand for water removable makeup, said Alan Chien (簡汎亞), Director of International Business Services at PwC Taiwan.

Muslims have to pray at mosques five times a day and the ritual of entering a mosque requires washing your face, hands and feet, indicating Muslim women have large demands for cosmetics to redo their makeup everyday, he explained.

South Korean cosmetic companies have been very active in acquiring the Malaysia Halal Certification (MHC), which prohibits animal-testing, added Anuar.

In the logistics industry, halal designates how food is stored and transported to prevent contamination, while tourism can be tailored to meet Muslim needs, such as having a halal certified kitchen, separate swimming pools for men and women.

Due to Islamic law and interpretation, more conservative Muslim sects even designate the length of the skirt women wear, and whether their head needs to be fully covered with scarves, she added.

The advantages of investing in halal products is it can be used by both Muslims and non-Muslims, and has attracted more ethical consumers that are conscious about whether the products they are using are eco-friendly, animal-friendly, or are made with child labor, added Abd Rahman.

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