DEVELOPING A HALAL BIOECONOMY IN ISLAMIC COUNTRIES
YBhg Dato’ Dr Mohd Nazlee Kamal CEO of BiotechCorp
My previous visit to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) has left me some thoughts to ponder over. As you are probably aware, the city has become symbolic for its skyscrapers and high-rise buildings. ‘Being Ambitious’ is most likely the best way to describe Dubai yet it could be an understatement. One thing for sure, Dubai is one of the most developed and cosmopolitan cities in the world.
Without a doubt the development in Dubai was largely fuelled by oil related revenue that transformed what was once a small fishing town, into one of the wealthiest and modernised global cities, all within a timespan of a few decades. But then again, it is also due to innovative policies put in place and strategic approaches that contributed to the overall success of Dubai. With oil reserves invested in many non-traditional ventures and sustainable development, Dubai’s successes began kicking off like nothing the world has ever seen. Perhaps ‘Being Innovative’ is a better description for Dubai.
This year, the city is also home to the 10th World Islamic Economic Forum (or WIEF in short). A city that is both ambitious and innovative, the potential for us to draw investments from Dubai, from UAE and the region is vast.
The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Dubai Chamber) is an indispensable source of competitive advantage for the business community in Dubai. I am astonished to learn that the chamber currently consist of around 150 000 members, all benefitting from support and assistance in furthering the business climate in the region. It is very important that efforts are being taken on our part to engage institutions such as the Dubai Chamber, which serve as a platform for international networking and to establish cross-border tangible business relationship.
Speaking of moving across borders, more economic cooperation is needed to achieve sustainable growth and development. The WIEF itself is a significant gathering as it represents the larger and more diverse Islamic economy worldwide, spanning across many countries and cultures. This year’s theme highlights the need for innovative partnership in forging greater collaborations between nations.
Similar to other developed nations, Islamic countries stand to benefit from collaboration in the bio-based sector. The bio-based industry is one of the most promising areas to be explored, as a new source for economic growth and to address the global challenges on food security, healthcare and sustainability issues. For that reason, BiotechCorp together with the Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) and AJ Pharma Group has organised a special programme to promote the idea for a Halal Bioeconomy at the forum.
The initiative was a novel effort aim at fostering discussion between governments, policymakers and industry stakeholders on how bioeconomy can capture the growth opportunities within the Halal domain. At present, the global Halal industry is valued at more than USD2.3 trillion, comprising of food, finance, tourism, and many more. With most conventional industries adopting a bio-based approach, the potential for a Halal bioeconomy is tremendous.
The Halal factor in bioeconomy is an encouraging component to cater to the religious preferences of Muslims and provide them with the freedom of choice and options. To maximise the Halal bioeconomy potential, concerted efforts are needed to drive the shift from producing largely commodity-based to higher value-added bio-based products. The pharmaceutical and nutraceuticals industries in particular, stand to benefit by capturing the value proposition of developing new and improved Halal vaccines, therapeutics, and other range of Halal compliant pharmaceutical and supplement products, to cater to the 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide.
Malaysia for instance, is already well positioned to be the centre for the promotion, distribution and production of Halal food, non-food products and other services. Further to it, global Islamic countries are also able to leverage on Malaysia’s strength in Halal certification. Given this established platform, the Malaysian bioeconomy could be a key enabler for ensuring the sustainability of the Halal industry by fulfilling the increased demand for food, healthcare and other services of the global Muslim community.
I am optimistic that through the Halal bioeconomy initiative, we would be able to create a Halal bio-based ecosystem where industry players including our own BioNexus companies, could venture into the lucrative market of Halal bio-based products and bio-services.
Over the years, the world has witnessed many trends that are changing the way of business, industries and economics. The drive into moving towards an economy that encompasses the use of sustainable, environmental friendly and renewable biological resources to replace fossil fuels is the very essence for sustainable development. The efforts and initiatives to spur more advancement in this area and within a Halal context will contribute to the wellbeing of the Muslim community and benefit Islamic countries towards achieving self-reliance on essential resources in the long run.
Malaysia, being a progressive and modern Islamic nation as well as a principal proponent of bioeconomy certainly has the competitive advantage to be a leader in this area. I must emphasize that we must leverage on our comparative strength, be ambitious and be innovative, into leading the development of a Halal bioeconomy in Islamic countries.