The emirate of Dubai will aim to be the centre for halal accreditation worldwide, said Hussain Nasser Lootah, director-general of Dubai Municipality.
“It is part of the vision of Dubai’s rulers and government to turn Dubai into the capital of Islamic economy, which includes the food industry, and ensuring that food providers are halal-certified,” said Lootah.
He said that at the moment, Dubai Municipality is handling the certification of halal establishments and products; however, the launch of an independent accreditation body is currently in its final stages. Lootah explained that, in the future, Dubai can become the hub for countries worldwide to attain halal accreditation.
This year’s 10th Dubai International Food Safety Conference will be held on October 27-28, hosting more than 2,500 safety specialists from around the world.
“At the moment we have around 15,000 food establishments across Dubai and the conference is necessary as we witness an increase in this number annually,” said Lootah.
Bobby Krishna, Principal Food Inspection Officer, said that more than half of the 14,000 food establishments are restaurants.
“Around 8,000 are restaurants, cafes and catering facilities and we get almost 1,000 new food places opening every year, so that is almost 100 per month,” said Krishna.
The conference will feature 12 workshops to be held pre- and post the event, said Ameenah Ahmad Mohammad, Vice-President of Conference Organising Committee and Head of Conferences Scientific committee. A key feature if the event will include conducting the first seminar on camel milk in the region.
“The United Arab Emirates is recognised as the first country to export camel milk products abroad and in this year’s conference we will provide both local and international expertise to speak about dealing with camel products appropriately,” said Ameenah.
Khalid Mohammad Sharif Al Awadhi, Executive Director of Food Control Department, said that such conferences allow the country to constantly enhance food safety standards and ensure the well-being of the public.
“There are around 500,000 food items registered with Dubai Municipality so that we can control what comes into the country and what is being sold to the public,” said Al Awadhi.
He added that there is little room for commercial fraud since all products, even those used in food outlets or restaurants, go through the municipality first for approval. Al Awadhi clarified that raising awareness among consumers will be the municipality’s top priority and fines will be issued to food outlets violating the rules.
For the third year in a row, the conference will also include the Arabic Symposium which addresses the best food safety practices and concept in the Arabic language. The symposium will also address consumers’ misconceptions related to nutrition and food safety.