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Is it Halaal? Are we adequately catering for the market in South Africa?

A few weeks ago, Ishay who runs Food and the Fabulous tweeted asking about experiences around halaal food in SA for a piece she was writing. I tweeted back and before I knew it I was writing her a long mail with my personal experiences frustrations on the matter. A few people have since seen the piece and chatted to me about it (it’s been published in the Mango Juice Inflight magazine), so with her permission I have shared an extract below.



A couple of thoughts:

  • The term halaal is Arabic & does not refer exclusively to food but translated means “permissible/allowed”.
  • In reference to meat specifically, halaal denotes the type of meat, how the animal is slaughtered (the idea is that it should be humane) and how the food is stored, handled & prepared.
  • So we’ve all heard the joke about the guy who stumbles off the casino floor tipsy at 2am and asks the staff where he can get  halaal food. Seriously though, if and how you observe any/all religious practices is a personal choice.
  • You may also want to check out The world’s top 10 halaal friendly holiday spots revealed that I recently tweeted. Prepare for some surprises.
  • It sounds like I’m admitting defeat but at the end of all this I don’t really think things will improve much around the halaal situation – there’s just no incentive to (Muslims account for 1.5% of the population in SA).

I don’t make a fuss when I eat out. And I love to eat out. I try to make the best of the options that I can have but its not easy when you’re left with 30-40% of the dishes on the menu. Mostly I have given up asking restaurants if they’re halaal at least a decade ago because of the blank stares I used to get back. My husband, ever optimistic, still regularly asks, by which time I’m already looking perusing the seafood options on the menu.

The halaal issue presents different challenges on different fronts. Take for example going to a braai. I understand that friends would be offended if I said I’d come, but I’ll be bringing my own meat. And grill. And then I recently went camping  & 4×4-ing through Africa for 3 & a half weeks where I was the only Muslim person out of 27/28 (not to mention and there was a sight overlap with Ramadaan (our annual dry fast)).

Even if you don’t observe halaal practices or aren’t Muslim have you heard the word? What did/do you think it means?

Ok rant over (for now)….



The South African Halaal Market

…With an expected 35 percent growth in the global Muslim population over the next 20 years, the need to service the halaal market becomes both a domestic concern and a commercial one from a South African tourism perspective. According to Fleishman-Hillard Majlis (The Next Billion, The market opportunity of the Muslim world, 2012), the Muslim market is “large, lucrative and underserved”.

While the figures are scant locally, Professor Melville Saayman director of the focus area Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society (TREES), at North-West University is in the process of gathering the South African data. According to him KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape are ideal tourist destinations to tap into the emerging demand for halaal-friendly tourism because of the high percentage of Muslims who live there.

Halaal food is relatively easy to find in these destinations, but the options cater for casual eating and take-away food mostly….. continue reading here

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