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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 22:27 GMT
Islamic cola launched in the UK
Qibla Cola logo
Qibla promises to donate some profits to Muslim charities
A British company has entered the Islamic cola market, hoping to emulate the success of Mecca and Zamzam colas.

The Derby-based Qibla Cola Company produces regular and diet versions under the catch line "Liberate your taste".

Qibla Cola
An "alternative" to the major brands
"The founder Zahida Parveen had the idea from the growing sentiment against global brands and resentment against them in the Muslim world," company spokesman Abdul Hameed Ebrahim told BBC News Online.

"We are not saying boycott these other goods, but we are offering an alternative," he said, despite company promotional material that highlights a boycott.


Managing director Zafer Iqbal denied anti-Americanism lay behind the brand.

"The whole basis for the company is ethical," he said.

"The product is promoting an anti-injustice approach, an anti-exploitation approach."

It is not the first time US giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been the target of a "buy Muslim" challenge.

Zamzam Cola, an Iranian-made drink named after a holy spring in Mecca, and France's Mecca Cola have both reported strong sales in Muslim communities in the Middle East and Europe.

Taste test

"Obviously they gave us some ideas but we don't see ourselves as competitors," Mr Ebrahim said.

Qibla - named after the Arabic word for the direction of Mecca - has contracted a Yorkshire soft drink maker to produce an initial run of a quarter of a million bottles for its first week of business.

"We did consumer tests with all the major brands, including Mecca, and the taste is in between Coke and Pepsi," Mr Ebrahim said.

The cola - with very similar label designs to those of Coke - will be marketed to Muslim communities in major cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bradford and Glasgow.

"Our distribution network is primarily focused on Muslim areas and will deliver to takeaways and corner stores," he said.

Little experience

Mecca Cola - which bears the slogan "No more drinking stupid, drink with commitment" - sells about two million 1.5 litre bottles every month in Britain.

Launched in France just three months ago, the drink is also being exported to Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain.

Qibla's spokesman, who admits the directors have no experience in the soft drink market, said the company is financed by Muslim businessmen.

He declined to name them.

The company is working with Islamic Aid and will donate 10% of profits to Muslim charities.

Here are a selection of your comments on this subject.

Absolutely ridiculous. Can you imagine what would happen if you went to a mainly Muslim following country and tried to promote 'Christian Cola'?
Paul, England

Products like this only serve to further divide communities

John Shaw, Manchester
Personally, I think that this idea is wrong. Products like this only serve to further divide communities which, as the Oldham riots and the frightening rise of the BNP proves, need integration instead of division. If the Cola was produced on, say, the grounds that it used Halal ingredients then that wouldn't be a problem, but instead it is being marketed as Anti-west. I applaud its donation to charities but Coca Cola does similar things such as sponsoring children's sports events. Although a good business idea, it may be construed as socially irresponsible.
John Shaw, Manchester (UK)

It's not a question of marketing products to a specific community. Just as the boycott of American companies doing business with South Africa's apartheid government finally resulted in the liberation of all South Africans, it is hoped that the availability of products made by companies with no links to the USA and Israel will ultimately persuade those countries to treat people around the world equally.
Jamaal Hussain, USA

All the drinks will rot your teeth

Nadeem Inayat, England
All the drinks will rot your teeth, so its best to stay away from all of them... However if you do drink cola then why not make a non-violent stance. Now you can have rotten teeth and will have made a definite impact on the American economy.
Nadeem Inayat, England

Long live free choice ! I can't see what's ethically wrong with giving people the opportunity to buy something else. If you don't like it, don't support it by buying it.
Dave Milne, Scotland

Zafer Iqbal, Qibla Managing Director
"The problem is where your sole driver is profit"
See also:

08 Jan 03 | Middle East
21 Aug 02 | Middle East
21 May 02 | Middle East
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