How ‘halal media’ can change perceptions of Muslim world
According to the Reuters report, Arabic content in the Middle East and North Africa rose by 40 percent between 2011 and 2014, while Western content dropped by 55 percent. Turkish entertainment has also become increasingly popular over the past decade and has been translated into multiple languages.
According to the Reuters report, Muslims’ spend on media and recreation was $209 billion in 2017 and is forecast to reach $288 billion by 2023. Children, in particular, represent a critical and sizeable consumer segment within halal media. Some attempts have been made recently to develop attractive Islamic-themed content for children, notably Ali Huda and Muslim Kids TV, but a lack of concrete investment in the genre has limited their reach and impact.
The main problem is securing the funds and investment required to create a multibillion-dollar enterprise. Investors need to believe in the viability of the industry. Governments should also offer support by providing the right incentives and facilitations.
But halal media is not only about business and employment — it could be a force for good in changing the Muslim narrative, especially in the West.
Realizing this, the OIC, with its 57 member states and acting as the collective voice of the Muslim world, recently announced it would launch an initiative to promote cooperation between its members in cinematographic production in a bid to improve the positive image of Muslims.
Through a proposed OIC film festival, countries will be able to showcase their productions, exchange expertise, know more about each other’s cultures and issues, have the opportunity to cooperate on joint productions, and benefit from their pool of talent. This cooperation is also expected to help in countering negative stereotypes and enhancing the image of Islam and Muslims by giving them a voice and presence to tell their own stories.
It is a good initiative and it could work. It would have a great impact if it gets the government and financial support it needs.