Two years ago, the idea of the Penang International Halal Hub (PIHH) had yet to reach the drawing board and references to Penang’s “halal industry” were a nod to kampung-based kuih makers. Fast forward to 2010 and PIHH is turning heads inside and outside the global halal industry. The concerted efforts of the Penang government to position the state as an international halal hub is not an exercise in affirmative action, but a strategic move to build on its existing export-oriented infrastructure and global connectivity.
The global halal industry
International experts place the worth of the global halal industry in the region of US$10.5 trillion1 and the concept of halal goods and services is fast gaining acceptance in many non-Islamic countries as well. To many consumers the halal issue is primarily centred around how food is prepared and whether animals have been slaughtered according to age-old Muslim practices. This is the traditional image of “halal” – which means permissible in Arabic. For some years now, Malaysia has been pushing the frontiers of halal to include more than just the food and beverages that can be consumed by Muslims; today’s international halal industry comprises goods and services as diverse as pharmaceuticals, finance, logistics and bio-tech.
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