A company co-founded by the first Malaysian in space will launch an e-commerce platform specialising in halal goods and services here by year-end.
Called Aladdin Street, the platform will eventually have offices in 30 countries and aims to promote halal products as a healthy, premium option even for non-Muslims.
Aladdin Group, the company behind the e-marketplace, is headquartered in Kuala Lumpur and was co-founded by Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, who travelled to the International Space Station in 2007 aboard a Russian spacecraft.
He started the company with two co-founders in Malaysia.
"Halal is not only for Muslims, but for everyone in search of a safer, healthier and more wholesome lifestyle," said Dr Sheikh Muszaphar - who is also an orthopaedic surgeon - at the launch event yesterday.
The marketplace will be open only to invited merchants, who will be screened for quality and compliance with halal standards by an in-house team at Aladdin Street.
Aladdin Street Singapore president Grace Kong said the platform aims to bring 100 merchants here on board over the next 12 months, and is targeting revenue of $50 million over the same period.
The company has 20 staff here and aims to expand that figure to 50 by the end of the year.
Singapore and China are the top two importers of halal products from Malaysia, noted Ms Kong, who also runs a financial advisory firm specialising in corporate risk management and wealth planning.
"Demand for halal and premium quality products from non-Muslim countries... is on the rise as halal standards gain recognition and acceptance for their uncompromising approach to food safety and hygience," she added.
Aladdin Street has also opened an office in China and will officially open in Indonesia next week.
It plans to eventually have a presence in India, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Australia, Britain, the United States and Canada, among others.
The company launched the Malaysian version of the website in April and has signed up 70 to 80 merchants selling more than 10,000 unique products, said Aladdin Group chief marketing officer Laurence Chooi.
It aims to hit RM200 million (S$67 million) in sales within the first year, he added.
Besides food, the platform also offers clothing, cosmetics, electronics and travel services among others.