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Monday, Apr 15, 2024

Bangkok lab leads ‘halal science’ development as Thailand seeks to become industry hub

Under Dr. Winai Dahlan's leadership, Bangkok's lab has been pioneering "halal science," supporting Thailand's goal of becoming a leading halal industry center.
Over the last twenty years, Dr. Dahlan has advanced halal research aligned with Islamic principles to promote food safety within Thailand's majority Buddhist population.

The need for scientific halal verification emerged in the late 90s after pork-contaminated beef sausages aimed at Muslim consumers sparked controversy.

Representing about 5% of Thailand's 66 million people, the Muslim population's demands coupled with a growing halal consciousness prompted the creation of a halal research center at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, as Dr. Dahlan shared with Arab News.

Starting as a modest lab in 2003, the center now stands as the world's first halal science institute and the sole establishment of its kind in Thailand. It developed HAL-Q (Halal Assurance, Liability-Quality System), now widely implemented across 770 factories in Thailand, impacting over 200,000 workers.

The center also launched SILK, a Shariah-compliant logistics system, and is preparing to release a Halal Route app for Muslim visitors to locate mosques and halal eateries in Thailand.

Thailand is seizing the opportunity for economic expansion through halal exports. Positioned as a potential regional halal hub due to its raw material availability, the government is focused on increasing exports to both Muslim and non-Muslim nations.

In the first 11 months of 2023, Thailand saw halal food exports reach 217 billion baht ($6 billion), and currently hosts over 15,000 halal food producers.

While the global halal market is valued at over $7 trillion and countries like Vietnam and the Philippines are also strategizing to enter this market, Dr. Dahlan noted the ongoing need for private sector halal education in Thailand to further penetrate Middle Eastern markets.

Optimism for expanding trade has been further bolstered by the recent rejuvenation of Saudi-Thai relations, leading to a surge in Saudi tourists and potential collaboration with the Saudi Food and Drug Authority to set up a similar halal laboratory in Saudi Arabia.

This revival of ties has ended a 32-year wait for normalized relations between the two countries, generating excitement, particularly among Thai Muslims.
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