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This summer the 7th International MOSCOW HALAL EXPO Exhibition takes place in Moscow. The companies offering goods and services complying with halal standards will participate in the event. The Aisha magazine interviewed Madina Kalimullina, managing partner of the Exhibition.

-Dear Madina, could you please give more details as to where and when the Moscow Halal Expo Exhibition will be held in 2016?

The Exhibition will take place on 2–5 June in Moscow, in the Sokolniki Exhibition and Convention Centre. Apart from a professional exhibition centre, there is a wonderful park in Sokolniki where you can have a good time. As is customary, the exhibition will take place in the beginning of June, moreover, right before Ramadhan. That means that while closing the exhibition we will be welcoming the blessed month!

– Many Muslims associate the word “halal”with food products. What other sectors of halal industry will be represented at this exhibition?

Putting aside the food sector, which accounts for 30% of the exhibition, considerable area will be occupied by the beauty and fashion segment. That includes clothing, headwear and accessories designers, as well as cosmetics and perfume producers. An exclusive booth will be allocated to this sector. Both Russian and foreign designers expressed their interest in participation. The participants of the exhibition will present the concept of multibrand shops of modest clothing and the Prêt-à-coverTM retailer programme by the Islamic Fashion Design Council. This organization has recently opened its representative office in Russia. We are proud to be engaged in this important project. This shop format will be beneficial for designers, clothes producers and clothing and accessories shops’ owners throughout all Russia, because the single-brand format doesn’t pay its way, especially in small towns. This is an opportunity for manufacturers to avoid wasting efforts and money for setting up sales departments and opening their shops. The professional salesmen will deal with it.

Another important segment of the exhibition is related to healthcare. Praise be to God, nowadays we witness the emergence of halal projects related to providing the whole range of medical and cosmetology services. The consumers don’t have to fear being deceived or intentionally diagnosed with a wrong disease, for “commercial purposes”, as a well-known Russian doctor, Komarovsky, put it. Both medical and cosmetology services will be presented. Moreover, these projects can easily be expanded to the regions, since one of the Exhibition’s partners is a company arranging franchise for interesting commercial projects.

The tourism and hospitality sector should not go unmentioned. Russia attracts more foreign tourists, and we have some interesting touristic programmes to offer to business tourists and holiday-makers. We keep developing this market in cooperation with hotels of different categories, restaurants, online applications developers and airlines.

Islamic financial companies operating in different regions of our country always participate in the Exhibition, personally or remotely. The participants have an opportunity to show them a pertinent investment project or to discuss the possibility of trade or lease financing for their business in compliance with Islamic financial standards. The delegation of the Islamic Development Bank from Jeddah will attend the Exhibition.

There has been a growing demand for franchising system from the companies. For instance, let’s say an entrepreneur has devised a unique network of mini-cafés or mini-hotels. By selling a franchise, he can expand his ideas to other cities and regions without searching for investment sources: an interested partner will find him by himself.

The children’s sector will unite providers of goods and services for children. Alhamdulillah, today we can see not only educational books and games, veiled dolls for kids, but also educational children’s centres, nurseries, summer and winter camps.

– Do you think Moscow Halal Expo is more beneficial for buyers or sellers? Is it principally a goods and services fair or a business platform?

A good and services fair is something good, joyful and diverse for general consumers. However, the market will only develop along with business development, delivery expansion, growing production level, concluding deals, attracting investment etc. Therefore, the halal market focuses on the B2B format right now.

When business issues and challenges are solved successfully, the companies can satisfy their consumers, run campaigns, offer new products and services. We are committed to solving business problems, forming the full range of business processes within and outside of the industries. For example, this year we liaised several Russian halal producers with foreign distributors, which will help them to increase their production volume. In the fashion segment the IFDC Russia helps talented Russian designers and brands to approach international platforms in the modest & Islamic fashion area. Besides, this opens the door for increasing Russian export turnover, which is advantageous for the country on the whole. Only successful companies can develop the halal market, otherwise it will stagnate.

Despite all this we understand the importance of perceiving the halal exhibition as a festivity, a place where everyone can come and soak up the atmosphere of goodness and ethics, the halal atmosphere. This is why the exhibition lasts for 4 days, including Saturday and Sunday. Thus, the first 2 days and a part of Saturday are mostly aimed at business audience, and the weekends are for ordinary folks, consumers, buyers. Moreover, the working hours of the Exhibitions have also been extended specially for those who are busy during the daytime.

– Different business forums, seminars, conferences take place during the Exhibition. Is it practically useful for the participants?

The Exhibition’s business programme accumulates the most pertinent challenges of the halal market industry-wise. This implies sharing experience and information. The halal industry leaders from different countries speak at the forums, providing our companies with an opportunity to follow the global trends. After the events the forum delegates can modify their business processes based on discussions, they can ask questions to the market’s leaders and experts. The companies can also present their products to the audience. Also, similarly to all business platforms, the forums help to make B2B contacts and to converse unofficially. The forums represent a significant addition to the Exhibition.

– How do you involve young entrepreneurs and startuppers?

First and foremost, young entrepreneurs and startuppers should make efforts to analyse the market experience by themselves and try their best to present their new projects. We respond to such queries and finance the participation of promising and interesting companies in our Exhibition.

– Our Aisha magazine tries to stay clear of the politics, but still, do you think the complications in the global political situations influence the import and export of halal products?

The rise in the US dollar against the rouble reduced the price of Russian products at the global market. Besides, Russia has been more actively developing the relations with the countries of the Muslim world. All this resulted in rising export volume of Russian halal goods. God willing, Russia will become the biggest food supplier for Muslim countries’ markets, which will increase the share of halal production for domestic consumption, as well as the share of Russian export on the global scale, and will strengthen our connection with the OIC countries.

As for the import, of course, the prices for imported goods or products with foreign components have risen, but the suppliers try to hold out at the market, and it seems they are quite successful in it.

Surely, retailers and clothing manufacturers have seen a drop in sales. The Muslim market has become saturated to some extent, and people started to buy less. Perhaps, weak players will leave the market, and those who have a more professional approach will stay. That is why the solutions proposed at the Exhibition in the fashion segment are equally important for producers, designers and sellers.

– The Russian Muftis Council, the Halal Expo organizing committee and the “Made in Russia” national brand have concluded a cooperation agreement. How will it affect the Exhibition participants?

This is an additional opportunity for local brands to enter foreign markets through our partners. We hope that companies will also be active, which will help us provide them with an efficient support.

– Is the Exhibition format firmly established, or will there be any improvements?

The halal market is still in the early stage of formation, therefore the Exhibition format is still being formed (sorry for tautology) and will change to meet the market needs.

– If I may, a personal question: what interesting brands, products and services did you discover at the last exhibition that you still use?

That’s an interesting question indeed. We use many brands! We like tea of various brands presented by different companies at the exhibition. Sometimes we indulge ourselves with natural and healthy products by Sibirsky Znakhar and the Al-Sikhha company. We always eat dates brought to Russia by the Ajwa company.

The Sahara company made the wedding dress for me. I guess there are no clothes producers participating in the Exhibition whose brand names I wouldn’t see on my dresses, skirts or headscarves. In cold winter days slippers from Afghanistan made of real fir help me out.
When we stay late in the office, the food delivery service of Pizzarion comes to help. I always have the Fisabil notebooks with me, but run out of pages quite soon, it doesn’t go a long way.

If we have spare finance resources, we try to invest them in Islamic financial companies of Russia. Of course, from time to time we eat the products of halal meat and poultry producers – lamb, pastirma by Ekol, chicken and turkey by the Damate holding. Sometimes we buy Safa and Ekoprod sausages. Its is unfortunate that we can’t always find the delicious meat delicacies from Risala Holding and the Ikhlas company. We like the Splat toothpaste, and we are happy with the natural cosmetics of halal producers, especially scrubs. I have been using creams with black cumin oil since the very first exhibition.

I’m worried I might have forgotten someone, the list is long, but now, when replying to the question, I understand that our family mostly consumes the products of the Moscow Halal Expo Exhibition’s participants.

It should be noted that I read professional and Muslim editions, including the Aisha magazines, and attend Gulbika Hanum’s training sessions when she comes to Moscow.

I hope that as the halal market develops, we will talk not only about consumer goods, but also about bigger purchases and services.

– Thank you!

Source: Aisha Journal

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