Cape Town's 300-year history of halal living to add spice to inaugural Africa Halal Week

2018-08-13 10:30 - Ethan Van Diemen
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(Photo: supplied, Wesgro)

Travellers are often drawn to niche experiences. When those experiences are honed to encapsulate cultural or unique nuances, it creates a winning formula that extends beyond just tourism - and key Western Cape stakeholders have recognised this. 

Enter the 300 years history of Halal living.

The Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town and Wesgro have announced the launch of what is to be the inaugural Africa Halal Week, scheduled to take place between 15 and 17 October 2018.

The week will be used to find out how South Africa, and Cape Town in particular, can hone its appeal within this trillion-dollar halal market - whether through travel, investment and trade or a combination of the three.

It is envisaged that the week will foster business links and conversations, as well as highlight opportunities spanning across the tourism, trade, Islamic banking, fashion, film and media, cuisine, investment and trade opportunities in South Africa and Africa more generally.  

SEE: Halaal Tourism 101: Learning the ways of the Muslim traveller

The key events taking place include:

  1. Halal Products and Services Trade Exhibition and Business-2-Business Matchmaking;

  2. Over 100 Western Cape Halal Businesses showcasing their halal certified agri-processed products;

  3. Export Market Access Seminars unlocking the  secrets to accessing foreign markets;

  4. Modest Fashion Forum Market unpacking the modest  fashion industry and providing insights into accessing the global fashion and  design markets;

  5. 1-Day Investment Conference focusing on Islamic Banking, Sharia Finance and Project Funding;

  6. The role of Islamic finance in growing the  Western Cape Halal industry;

  7. Tourism Conference focusing on understanding the  trends and opportunities that exist within the global halal tourism industry as  well as insights on successfully hosting the Muslim traveller;

  8. The Western Cape as a Muslim-friendly Film and Media  Destination.

At this point, 40 international buyers, CEOs and key opinion leaders operating in the international halal industry are set to participate in Africa Halal Week 2018.

Addressing the media about the conceptualisation of Project Khulisa and the importance of linking the project to Halal generally, Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde unpacked the initiative's attempt ti grow the Western Cape's share of the Halal market, from less than 1% to 2%. 

SEE: SA ranks as 4th top destination worldwide for Muslim travellers

Minister Winde says, “We’ve grown the Halal Market by over R900 million since 2015. Under Project Khulisa, the Western Cape alone is responsible for exporting over R10 billion in Halal products. We look forward to nurturing this already lucrative market to see it expand even further within the province, creating much-needed jobs and boosting the Cape’s economy.”

 Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde responds to a question during the Q&A (Photo: supplied)

Preferred Halal trading partner

Rashid Toefy, Deputy Director General of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) added further detail by explaining that "The role of Africa Halal Week is to put Cape Town and the Western Cape on the map as a preferred Halal trading partner. The province is perfectly positioned, with frequent and direct flights into the rest of Africa, to become a hub for Halal on the continent, and a launch pad for international partners to access the African markets.”

 Global Muslim population to grow to 31% by 2060

With demographic growth rates showing that the Muslim population is growing at double the rate of the non-Muslim world, it is predicted that the global Muslim population will comprise 31% of the total global population by 2060. According to Nezaam Josephs, Chief Director of Economic Sector Support at DEDAT, halal travel contributed $1,5 trillion (R20,81 trillion at $1/R13,87) in 2015 with the sector growing at a rate of 9%. Over 60% or 1,7 billion Muslim people are under the age of 30 and are increasingly mobile and looking for exciting and inviting travel opportunities and experiences.

This confluence of realities is precisely what Africa Halal Week seeks to engage with so as to see how a larger portion of the halal travel market makes Cape Town and the Western Cape a destination of first choice. 

SEE: New partnership to put Cape Halaal tourism on the map  

Professor Ebrahim Arnold - Chairperson of the Interim Halal Co-ordinating Committee says, “Africa Halal Week is an opportunity for every one of all persuasions to visit the Western Cape, and be encapsulated by the more than 300 years history of the impact of Halal living. With the ever-growing population of Muslims globally, the opportunities for the industry abound. Cape Town boasts the first Halal certification process in the industry and is supported by Halal certifiers who are seriously striving towards maintaining Global Standards for Halal processes.”

SEE: Cape Town positioned to become 'global leader' in Halaal tourism

A recurring theme is the need to see halal as a coordinated, holistic ecosystem, wherein tourism is tied up with trade and investment generally.

Wesgro CEO Tim Harris highlighted the importance of Halal in other sectors by referencing the Mastercard Halal Trip Muslim Millennial Travel Report 2017  that projects that the total expenditure from Muslim millennial travellers alone will surpass US$100 billion (R1,38 trillion) by 2025, while the overall Muslim travel segment is estimated to reach US$300 billion (R4,16 trillion) by 2026.

 Wesgro CEO Tim Harris addresses members of the media (Photo: supplied)

SEE: Muslim Tourism: Young Muslim travellers create tourism boom

“Our province is rich in history, across a multitude of religions, ethnic groups and cultures. Halal is one of the threads that reveals the tolerance of our city as well as our capabilities in delivering on the requirements of this sector. We are perfectly positioned at the Southern tip of Africa to tap into this growing consumer base and increase our capacity in the Halal supply chain, with the goal of growing the Cape’s Halal Market share,” concluded Harris.

But what does the City and province have to offer halal, Muslim travellers in the immediate?

Well, for one, travellers can enjoy a traditional Islamic retreat.  

A traditional Islamic retreat in South Africa

In South Africa, traditional Islamic travel retreats are typically referred to by the local Muslim community as, ‘seven days’ or ‘forty days’ referring to the actual duration of the retreat… sometimes the retreats might even be longer.

A conventional Islamic retreat in South Africa is not luxury-focused, but verge more towards spiritual empowerment.

Local mosques will serve as accommodation options and male travellers from all over the world, who participate in these retreats, are known for their backpacker ways… sleeping bags and plastic crockery and cutlery - and a miswak, which is a 100% organic toothbrush. 

Final year Islamic Studies student at The International Peace College South Africa (IPSA), Aakifah Antar says, "Although these retreats are male dominated, females are permitted to travel too, provided that they’re accompanied by their husbands on the journey. This is referred to as, ‘Mastoorah Jamaat’. 

The standard itinerary of these retreats includes:

This seven day journey will include a stay at the five-star Anantara Tangalle Beach Resort where the group will be encouraged to engage in spiritual reflection alongside jogging, cycling and visits to an orphanage. The group will also have a productivity expert, fitness instructor and nutritionist to hand throughout the duration of the retreat.

Fasting on Mondays and Thursdays

All the travellers on the retreat are required to wake-up before the crack of dawn to pray and have a shared breakfast, before venturing into fasting for the rest of the day.

The complete recitation of their holy scripture, the Quran

Chapters in the Quran are divided between the travellers daily, and the complete recitation of the Quran is collaboratively completed.

A ‘praising’ ceremony each evening

Every night, the travellers would dedicate an hour of their time to praise their God (Allah) by singing praise songs together. Locally, this term is known as ‘Dhikr’, which is a form of devotion.

A lecture, five times a day

Muslims are required to pray five times a day. After each of these prayers, a fifteen minute lecture on the religion is rendered by the group leader (Imam). 

South Africa already ranks 4th as the top destination worldwide for Muslim travellers, according to the Mastercard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index but what more can be done? This and other questions will be answered Africa Halal Week 2018. 

SEE: Halaal & Halaal-friendly foodie activities around the Cape

For more information on Africa Halal Week 2018, click or tap here

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