A recent decision by Denmark’s government to ban the ritual slaughtering of animals is expected to cost the multi-million dollar Danish trade and tourism markets from Gulf states.
Danish exports of halal (in accordance with Islamic law) beef and poultry products are imported in massive quantities by Gulf countries.
The decision to ban ritual slaughter by default ends the saleof halal products, a step that has prompted the Saudi government to call for it to be lifted immediately.
Around 55 percent of Danish exports to Saudi Arabia are food-based, a report by Saudi newspaper Arab News said.
Sources at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) told the newspaper the ban would strain bilateral trade between the two countries, which is estimated to have a total value of $1.6 billion.
The ban is also thought to discourage Muslim tourists from visiting Denmark, travel agents Fursan Group told Arab News.
After years of campaigning by animal welfare groups, the Danish government's decision to ban ritual slaughtering has stirred anger among Muslim and Jewish rights groups,.
“[A] clear infringement of religious freedom,” nonprofit group Danish Halal called the ban.
Meanwhile, the Danish food minister, responding to the criticism on a local TV channel, said the ban puts ahead the rights of animals.
“Animal rights come before religion,” the minister said.