Halal media and recreation is driving positive growth amongst Muslims, be it in publishing, traditional electronic media or new offerings on the Internet. Programmes such as Muslim Kids TV and notable technological innovations such as Quran Academy. As new genres are addressed and Muslims are looking to regain control over their own narrative, Muslim spending is expected to reach $262 billion by 2021, which signals an industry with a thriving consumer base, waiting to be tapped.
With such growth, innovation and opportunity, the halal media and recreation sector is expected to reach $262 billion by 2021. The sector is already ranked seventh globally behind only countries such as the United States, Japan and China. A profitable and expanding sector, given a unique twist by the confidence of its leading storytellers and innovators, should inspire nothing but confidence in its future investors as well.
One of the fastest growing segments in the media and recreation economy is the establishment of religious TV channels. It is a prospering industry, with over 180 Islamic channels globally in six languages. An example of this is Eman Channel – a new free-to-air Islamic TV channel launched in the UK that will also be available online. The channel’s content will focus more on religion and lifestyle than politics, and is supported internationally by renowned Muslim figures such as Mufti Ismail Menk, Shaikh Abdur-Raheem Green, and Shaikh Abdur-Raheem McCarthy.
The growth in halal media and recreation is also represented through the creative output of animation. Animation is used to target the younger demographic, utilizing popular Muslim comic book characters. Samurai Akiyama is a manga about a Muslim brother and sister who fight off demons to protect their village via the medium of Japanese-style animations to widen the relatable value of the content.Islamic-themed movies are also maturing as a media segment, with several new movies in the pipeline waiting to be released. Prominent stakeholders in the industry, e.g. David Franzoni is to work on a biopic about the 13th-century Iranian poet Jalaluddin al-Rumi, with A-listers such as Leonardo DiCaprio scouted to play the role of the protagonist. The history of Islam is also being recounted and told through this beautiful medium. Saudi Arabian 3D animation film Bilal, tells the story of Bilal Ibn Rabah, the Ethiopian companion of the Prophet Muhammad who converted to Islam had its international premiere at the prestigious film festival, Cannes.
The revolution in Islamic media and recreation is enforced and engendered by the emergence of key players and icons. Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, a Muslim superhero Marvel introduced in 2013 became an international bestseller. Marvel also launched an English and Arabic version in the Middle East through Al Ahli Publishing and Distribution (APD) 14. There is also MuslimGirl: a leading online publication for Muslim women in the U.S. They recently teamed up with Teen Vogue, a version of Vogue magazine for teenage girls, to bring to the public what life is like for a Muslim girl living in the modern world.
Challenges do exist, of course. Impediments which manifests itself in the form of the extremely high barriers to entry in mainstream media platforms, in particular television and cinema. Traditional media platforms focused on Islamic and ethical themes are very few in number. Raising funds and sustaining operations prior to a break-even phase can be a great obstacle. There are also issues of IP rights, and the rising sentiment of Islamophobia that needs to be surpassed. A growing demand still exists however that is ripe for the taking, in a world where the Islamic concept of self-identity is waiting to be reclaimed.