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Rise of the digital Islamic economy

Core Islamic economy sectors such as halal food, halal travel, fashion, Islamic finance, media, recreation and culture, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, are growing at double-digit rates.
UK-based management consultancy Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu expects the various digital variations of these segments to grow in tandem.
While Bahrain remains an Islamic finance champion, Dubai has designs to become an Islamic finance hub that should fuel the digital side of the industry.
Apart from becoming the centre of Islamic finance, the emirate aims to become a magnet for the halal products industry, become a family-friendly Islamic tourism hub and attract entrepreneurs to create platforms that address bespoke Muslim requirements such as Islamic fashion, design, and the arts and education.
While Dubai's efforts could be a catalyst for the digital Islamic economy, other factors are also expected to fuel growth.
Deloitte notes that Islamic digital services over the past two years have seen new developments such as an online Islamic lifestyle magazines, modest fashion blogs and Islamic lifestyle app solutions.
Other innovations like smart mosques - which enable worshippers to interact with the mosque using mobile devices and quick response codes -- are promising although in early stages of development.
Opportunities are not limited to only consumer e-commerce space, but extend to business-to-business such as 'farm-to-fork' tracking in the halal food industry.
Islamic Internet banking, takaful (Islamic insurance) are all segments that are expected to get a boost, as the region's Internet-savvy youth seek new financial services.
Regional investors, incubators, NGOs and government authorities need to come together to support entrepreneurs and digital Islamic services innovations.

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