The initiative will help regulate halal industry, introduce inspection mechanism to safeguard customers' rights
Dubai, UAE - In a significant development that boosts the efforts of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) to articulate Dubai's ambition of emerging as a global capital of Islamic economy, representatives of 10 countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Dubai on 4 May for the establishment of the International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF) to be based in the emirate.
Jointly spearheaded by DIEDC and the Emirates Authority for Standardization & Metrology (ESMA), the latest initiative in the UAE reinforces the government's efforts to shape the country into a global reference in halal product certification and enabling legislation.
Once established, IHAF will aim to regulate the halal industry and introduce an inspection mechanism that safeguards customers' rights and industry promotions. In addition, the accreditation body will help build credibility and confidence in halal-certified food and non-food products globally, while facilitating trade movement in the halal industry and ensuring greater cooperation among regional and international organisations.
The 10 signatories of the MoU included His Excellency Dr Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minster of State and Chairman, Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology, His Excellency Hussain Nasir Lootah, Director General - Dubai Municipality and Dubai Accreditation Center, His Excellency Jose Manuel Brito, Chairman, Spanish National Accreditation Body (ENAC), His Excellency Peter Unger, Chairman, American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), His Excellency Ismat Gul Khattak, Director General, Pakistan National Accreditation Council (PNAC), His Excellency Dr Saad bin Osman Al Qasabi, Governor of the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Chairman, Saudi Accreditation Committee (SAC), His Excellency Nabil bin Ameen Molla, Secretary General of the Standardization Organization of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Director General of the Gulf Accreditation Centre (GAC), His Excellency Mike Willing, Chairman of Governing Board Australia and New Zealand - JAS-ANZ, His Excellency Paul Stennett, CEO, United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKS) and His Excellency Hani Al Desoki, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Executive Director of the National Council for Accreditation (EGAC) from Egypt.
The issue of global standardisation of halal products and services has been on the agenda of several stakeholders of the Islamic economy since the nascent sector gained international recognition in recent years.
Speaking on the occasion, His Excellency Mohammed Al Gergawi, Chairman of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC), said: "Each economic system requires a well-defined structure and culture, agreeable standards and unified references. This is why we consider the agreement to establish the International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF) an essential initiative that contributes to the development of Islamic economy.
"The agreement will facilitate the structured organisation of varied sectors of Islamic economy and the formation of its entities. Furthermore, it will enable the documentation of local and international references and lay down specifications for a unanimously agreed mechanism that will be binding on all participating countries in the Islamic economy space."
He added: "Since the launch of the 'Dubai: Capital of Islamic Economy' initiative, we have focused our efforts in creating a legitimate international entity that has the power to grant licenses to halal bodies so they may boost the halal sector and enhance its growth and sustainability. Dubai and the wider UAE have already paved the way for this achievement by launching initiatives without which we could not have succeeded in globalising Islamic economy and unifying its references and standards.
"We deeply appreciate the wise directives and visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for supporting our efforts in steadily and noticeably growing our economy - both the regular economy as well as the Islamic economy - to unprecedented global levels. This initiative will establish a unified foundation for the concept of halal and halal production mechanisms - so that we can use it as a benchmark and expand its scope to include even more countries."
For his part, His Excellency Dr Rashid Ahmad bin Fahad, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of the Board of Directors of ESMA, said: "Standardisation is key to the halal value chain. Having unified schemes that ensure the development of necessary specifications, and put in place suitable verification systems are vital to the growth of this industry. Accreditation bodies are crucial to the overall scheme of things in a nascent sector such as Islamic economy".
He added: "Once established, the International Halal Accreditation Forum will comprise several local and international accreditation bodies as members that will be individually and collectively responsible for the growth of the sector. The primary objective of establishing IHAF is to build and maintain confidence in products carrying halal certifications and Halal marks worldwide through harmonising conformity assessment practices in the domain. IHAF will also help ratify multilateral recognition agreements between the members. We are confident this is turn will drive the halal trade within their countries and ultimately on a global level."
The Minister said: "The key factor that drove the UAE into prime position in establishing IHAF include the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to shape Dubai as the capital of Islamic economy. The establishment of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and the launch of more than 40 initiatives in different sectors of the Islamic economy served as key catalysts in cementing this role.
"The country's policy that supports the globalisation of trade through engagement of all stakeholders, its integrity and transparency in implementing schemes and processes as per international practices to remove technical barriers to trade (TBT), were also crucial. Furthermore, the UAE's strategic location for trade, vast experience in Islamic economy, quality policy and infrastructure, as well as technical and logistical infrastructure significantly added value to the decision to base the IHAF in Dubai."
The Minister noted that IHAF membership will be open to all accreditation bodies for conformity assessment activities that represent their countries in the halal domain. The establishment of IHAF will be governed by a by-law approved by the IHAF General Assembly during its first meeting.
About Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre
'Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) was established in December 2013 to transform Dubai into the 'Capital of Islamic Economy', as envisioned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, supervises the efforts of the DIEDC and its Board to bolster Dubai's bid to become a global hub for the Islamic Economy, encompassing a wide array of sectors through harnessing the projected US$6.7 trillion Islamic economy market.
DIEDC is equipped with the financial, administrative and legal tools to promote economic activities compatible with Islamic law in Dubai's goods and financial services sector, as well as the non-financial sector. In this capacity, it will conduct research and specialist studies to determine the contribution of sharia-compliant activities to the emirate's gross domestic product, and explore how to extend this contribution to boost the economy. DIEDC is also mandated to create new products and lines of service to law firms specializing in finance structuring."
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© Press Release 2016