Indonesia’s Role in the Growing Muslim Market

September 26, 2012

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Attending the 3rd Muslim World Business & Investment Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia last week, I was reminded that the introduction of Islam to Indonesia, now home to more Muslims than any other country in the world, started with Arab and Indian travellers as early as the 8th century. Trade and commerce was the reason for the travel, then and now.

Indonesia, like some of its surrounding neighbors is keen to build its position as a Halal hub and take advantage of the growing interest in the Muslim economy. The Indonesian government is encouraging trade and investment in areas including Halal food and Islamic finance. Which is why it backed and took part in the conference in full force – the conference was scheduled to be opened by the President (although that was delegated down to his deputy).

The attendees included experts in Islamic finance and investment, venture capitalists and investors from across the world. FH Majlis was invited to take part in a panel discussing investment and sustainable growth in OIC countries. The panel included Dr Cedomir Nestorovic, Professor of International Marketing & Geopolitics at Essec Asian Center in Singapore, Dr Savas Alpay, Director General, SESRIC (Statistical, Economic, Social Research & Training Centre for Islamic Studies) in Turkey and moderated by Jumaatun Azmi, Founder of the World Halal Forum and editor of The Halal Journal.

My presentation made the point that countries like Indonesia and Malaysia need to take greater advantage of their geo-political positions to tap into the growing Muslim opportunity given the changing demographics. Currently, about 20% of the world population is Muslim; by 2030, this will grow to around 25%; and by 2050 to around 35%.

But these countries need to attract investments to tap the opportunity, especially since countries like Indonesia need to increase their per capita income by 2020. The panel also discussed a need for OIC countries to increase investments in education (especially amongst the female population) to evolve into knowledge based economies.

More to follow from this event.