Cola challenge takes new direction

Qibla Cola becomes latest soft drink aimed at squaring up to US brands and offering alternatives for Muslim cola enthusiasts.

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By  John Irish Published  February 13, 2003

A UK-based company has joined the Muslim cola market with the launch on Feb 04 of Qibla Cola. The new drink, which is named after the direction that Muslims face in prayer, comes with the slogan ‘Liberate Your Taste.’

“The Qibla brand has been designed to provide consumers from within the Muslim community with an alternative brand of this popular soft drink,” said Zahida Parveen, founder of Qibla Cola.

This latest cola venture is now the third major Muslim cola drink. Iranian Zamzam Cola has seen a surge in popularity over the last two years, since a wholesale Arab boycott of American brands began. Mecca Cola, which was launched last year in France, has also gradually increased its sales.

The first products will comprise Qibla Cola and Qibla Diet Cola with a view to starting up Qibla 5 (a lemon-lime based cola), Qibla Water (natural spring water) and Qibla Fantasy (an orange carbonated drink). Much like the other two ‘Muslim colas’ Qibla will adorn its bottles and cans with red and white labels more commonly associated with Coca-Cola.

"The Qibla brand offers a real alternative for people concerned by the practices of some major western multinationals who support causes that oppress Muslims. Muslims are increasingly questioning the role these brands play in their societies. They ask, 'Should the money of the oppressed go to the oppressors?'” said Parveen.

Qibla Cola will initially be targeted at Muslim communities within major British cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bradford and Glasgow, in the hope of eventually launching throughout the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, the Far East and the rest of the Muslim world.

Similar to Mecca Cola, Qibla Cola will donate 10% of its profits to humanitarian causes by teaming up with Islamic Aid, a Muslim charity.

Whether the cola stands up to much on a global cola scale is another question. Following a mini-tasting survey carried out by the London-based Guardian newspaper, Qibla Cola came a disappointing last, behind Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, and even a local supermarket brand.

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