DUBAI // A meat supplier from Canada hopes to introduce halal bison and Islam-friendly elk into high-end restaurants and hotels by next month. Prairie Halal Foods, a private joint venture between several Canadian food producers and processors, also intends to supply UAE establishments with Angus beef, chicken and honey. About 80 per cent of the UAE's imported food is halal, with most of its meat coming from Brazil and Australia. The meat will come from Alberta, a Canadian province known for its open ranges, high-quality beef and petroleum industry. Bison and elk are rare meats that have a game-like flavour. Bison is much like beef, but is lower in calories, cholesterol and fat. The large herd animal used to roam wild throughout North American prairies, but is now largely farmed. The company is looking for restaurants willing to serve the meats by December. "We worked with slaughterhouses and introduced a Muslim fellow to develop a halal protocol," said Wahid Kandil, the general manager of Prairie Halal Foods. He said the company is working with the Islamic Society of North America to ensure its products meet all religious requirements. According to religious tradition, the animal must be killed by slitting the throat while a recitation from the Quran is repeated. Blood, pork and alcohol are forbidden, or haram, to Muslims. Compared to the halal beef already available in the country, "definitely, our beef is better", he said. Although Mr Kandil would like to sell the meat to consumers directly, the cost involved would probably be too high. "It's more suitable for the high end," he said. The company is hoping to tap into a global halal market that is estimated at US$580 billion (Dh2.1 trillion) and expected to rise to US$1 trillion by 2010, according to the Financial Times. Alberta's deputy premier, Ron Stevens, was in Dubai yesterday to launch Prairie Halal Food's first Middle Eastern office in Dubai. He predicted business ties between the UAE and the Canadian province would continue to deepen, as Alberta's oil and gas reserves are predicted to be second only to Saudi Arabia's. Over the past year, the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company has spent more than US$5bn buying up stakes in Alberta's oil sands projects. firstname.lastname@example.org
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