Home Articles Halal Certification for Export to UAE, Saudi Arabia, and GCC/MENA Countries

Halal Certification for Export to UAE, Saudi Arabia, and GCC/MENA Countries

Are you seeking to export to the burgeoning GCC and MENA regions? Learn more about the halal certification requirements, market, and export opportunities and challenges. 

GCC/MENA Market Synopsis

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, which includes Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations (see below), is a diverse, swiftly expanding market with a strong emphasis on the halal industry. The halal market serves the dietary and lifestyle needs of the region’s 325 million Muslims, who require products that adhere to Islamic principles. The halal market includes, among others, the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and personal care products industries.

Market Size and Development:

In recent years, the halal market in the MENA/GCC region has grown significantly due to a growing population, rising disposable income, rising awareness of halal products, and rising demand for high-quality halal products. Per AHF estimates, the global halal market will be worth more than USD 2.2 trillion in the next three years, with the MENA/GCC region accounting for a substantial portion of this market.

Key Factors:


The MENA/GCC region has a large and young Muslim population, which will increase demand for halal products in future years. The region’s population growth rate exceeds the global average, enhancing the market potential for halal products. This phenomenon is uillustrated by the following chart published by the UN: 

Economic growth

Diversification of the region’s economies away from energy dependence has led to an increase in disposable income and consumer spending. This economic expansion has created opportunities for domestic and foreign companies to enter the halal market.

Government Support

Governments in the MENA/GCC region have been actively supporting the development of the halal market, recognizing its economic growth and job creation potential. This assistance includes establishing clear halal regulations and international efforts to promote halal trade.

Increasing Awareness

With the increased adoption of the internet and social media, consumers in the MENA/GCC region are gaining a greater understanding of the benefits and requirements of halal products. This heightened awareness drives the demand for certified halal products and encourages companies to invest in this sector.

MENA and GCC Countries:

  1. Bahrain (GCC)
  2. Kuwait (GCC)
  3. Oman (GCC)
  4. Qatar (GCC)
  5. Saudi Arabia (GCC)
  6. United Arab Emirates (GCC)
  7. Algeria
  8. Djibouti
  9. Palestine
  10. Egypt
  11. Iran
  12. Iraq
  13. Israel
  14. Jordan
  15. Lebanon
  16. Libya
  17. Malta
  18. Morocco
  19. Syria
  20. Tunisia
  21. Yemen

Is Halal Certification Important for Export to the MENA/GCC Region?

The short answer is yes. Countries like Saudi Arabia have issued formal guidance regarding halal requirements for imports. Though technically, certain governments do not have a federal requirement, it is functionally essential to succeeding in the commercial environment.

GCC Halal Certification Standards and Authorities

There are a few key authorities and standards that are widely accepted in the region: 

  1. GSO 2055-1:2015 set by the Gulf Standardization Organization (GSO)
  2. UAE.S 2055-1 set by Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA)
  3. OIC/SMIIC 1:2019 set by Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries
  4. ​​ES 4249 / 2014 set by Egyptian Organization for Standards & Quality

Additionally, certain countries have their own local authorities that govern the halal market in their countries. Notably: 

  1. Saudi Arabia: Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA)
  2. Qatar: Qatar Ministry of Public Health (MOPH)
  3. Bahrain: ​​Bahrain Institute of Standards and Metrology
  4. United Arab Emirates (UAE): Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA)
  5. Oman: Ministry of Commerce and Industry
  6. Kuwait: Public Authority for Food and Nutrition (PAFN)
  7. Jordan: Jordan Standards and Metrology Organization (JSMO) and Jordan Islamic Foundation for Certification and Standards

Halal Certification for Export to UAE, Saudi Arabia, and MENA/GCC Countries

Halal certification for export to GCC countries requires halal certification from bonafide and recognized Halal Certification Bodies (HCB) like AHF. AHF certification ensures that companies comply with the halal standards referenced above, such as GSO 2055-1:2015 which defines the “general requirements for Halal food that shall be followed at any stage of Halal food chain including, receiving, preparation, packaging, labelling, handling, transportation, distributing, storage, displaying and Halal food service.” The standard is generally congruent with the international halal standards that AHF universally benchmarks its certified companies against. In certain instances, AHF partners with other certification bodies to jointly certify companies with particular product scopes. 

The certification process for export to the MENA/GCC regions is as follows:

1. Application

The first step would be to qualify the product for halal certification. This can be done by completing the initial application, which can be accessed here: Apply for Halal Certification.

Upon initial qualification, a halal agreement will be generated and shared by your account executive. Upon signature, a complete set of application documents required for the documentation audit will be shared. 

After receiving the complete documentation, our team of technical specialists will review the documents for compliance with the international halal standards from both a facility and product perspective. Every raw material is individually reviewed and approved by a technical specialist, and the company is advised on how to best set up a halal program.

2. Audit

The AHF audit team will schedule an audit date to inspect the facility, its products, and production processes for compliance with the relevant halal standards. Upon completion, if any non-conformances are identified, a report will be generated by the lead auditor, along with a time frame for corrective action. Upon completion of the corrective action, there may be a secondary audit to confirm the implementation of the corrective action. After all, non-conformances have been eliminated, and all risk mitigation measures have been implemented, the certification board is notified.

3. Certification

Upon successful completion of the audit, a Halal Production Facility Registration is issued, registering and approving the facility to produce halal products along with a Halal Product Certificate listing the specific products that have been approved. A certification specialist will review and advise on the usage of the halal logo in accordance with the relevant import regulations. 

You can apply here for halal certification for export to MENA/GCC and beyond.

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