Malaysia's first and only astronaut Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor is moving into the e-commerce business. He has just launched Aladdin Group of Companies which he hopes will be a halal rival to internet business giants Amazon and Alibaba.
Aladdin will be based in 30 countries and headquartered in Kuala Lumpur. It will select merchants who are either halal certified by the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia or those who comply with the Shariah guidelines to market their products on its site.
The on-line merchandiser is expected to cost close to $100m to launch over the next three years. Its headquarters and Malaysian operations was launched on Wednesday 27 January, at a cost of $5m.
"What we aim to achieve is to compete with the likes of Amazon and Alibaba, and maybe even be bigger than them one day. Aladdin represents an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to gain halal certification and immediately gain access to 30 markets globally," Sheikh said.
He pointed out that the global demand for halal products was growing and that Muslim consumers would now have an avenue where they can "feel safe and assured"' while purchasing products. But the website is not only for Muslims.
"We would also like to appeal to non-Muslims. Because halal is not about religion alone, it is also about ethics and hygiene," he added.
The website describes itself as the world's "first exclusive premium halal e-marketplace." It is targeting to expand into parts of Europe, the Middle East, China, India and Indonesia in the next three years.