Southeast Asian countries friendly to Arab Muslims - GulfToday

Southeast Asian countries friendly to Arab Muslims


Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

Officials from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand said on Tuesday that Arab Muslims need not worry if they opt or even decide to live and work in their countries as these are Muslim-friendly with requirements to the Islamic way of life in place.

The officials who gave the assurance to a participant at the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA)-hosted “Live Webinar on Investment Opportunities in ASEAN” were Indonesian Investment Promotion Centre (Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Abu Dhabi) director Iwan Ungsi, MIDA (Consulate General of Malaysia, Dubai) director Abd Mukti Abu Bakar, Thailand Board of Investments-Industrial Linkage Development Division (Office of the Prime Minister, Bangkok) executive director Sonklin Ploymee, and Philippine Commercial Attache to the Middle East and Africa Charmaine Mignon Yalong.

The webinar was organised by the regional commercial/trade chiefs of the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia relative to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and what their countries could offer to foreign investors; as it was last Aug.8 when these countries alongside Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar and VietNam commemorated the 53rd anniversary of their Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Southeast Asia is home to over 600 million consumers and talented, industrious people.

Board of Investments (Department of Trade and Industry, Manila) governor Angelica Cayas was the main presenter for the Philippines but deferred to answer the question raised during the open forum, claiming UAE-based Yalong (webinar moderator) is the more knowledgeable in the topic of interest.

The specific question raised was “Can Arab Muslim investors live in Southeast Asia with their families, observe halal lifestyle, including the Sukuk?”

Ungsi cited that Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim nation. Population estimates as of mid-2020 by the United Nations is over 273 million. Abu Bakar said majority of the citizens and residents of Malaysia are Muslims (61.3 per cent) and its halal institutions are among international players. Ploymee pointed out that Thailand is a major halal hub. Halal education/training institutes abound in the kingdom. Yalong said that while the Philippines is predominantly Roman Catholic, policies and strategies have been secured and implemented such as the Islamic Financial Law (Islamic Banking Act of 2019) that encourages the establishment of 100 per cent foreign-owned qualified bank in the country. She added that not only business enterprises are encouraged to embrace halal principles to attract Muslim guests or clients but the public as well, since “halal is a way of life.”

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