As Australia today (Jan. 26) celebrates its National Day  you may be forgiven in thinking that Australia’s most successful exports are their movie stars like Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and pop icon Kylie Minogue but its greatest export is a culinary one – the quality and quantity of its delicious halal red meat. Australian beef and lamb exports to the Middle East and North Africa region reached record highs with a mouth watering 61,793 tons of beef exported – a staggering 89 percent increase in 2013 . A positive year for Australian lamb exports saw a yearly volume of 61,250 metric tons, an increase of 12 percent also a record annual export to the region. Total combined red meat volumes reached just under 185,000 metric tons including mutton and offal items. Driving the overall growth for beef was strong demand from Saudi Arabia, with Australian exports to Saudi reaching 31,126 tons, an incredible year-on-year growth of 494 percent. Premium product is high on the menu across the Middle East with a marked increase in demand for high quality grass fed, grain fed and wagyu beef. Jamie Ferguson, Regional Manager MENA, Meat and Livestock Australia, said: “With over 45 years in the region Australian meat and livestock companies have built long standing relationships and trust. We have a strong understanding of market drivers and have been in a position to take advantage of changes to the market when they have occurred, such as the expanding hypermarket and four and five star hotel sectors. Australia is recognized as a global leader in Halal red meat production  and many of the new players are turning to Australian companies as a clean and safe year round provider of guaranteed halal beef, lamb and goat items. One man who knows all about meat is the first ever Arab Master Chef and star of Fatafeat’s ‘100 Lahma’ TV show, chef Tarek Ibrahim, who said: “As one of the world’s greatest food producing nations Australia deserves and enjoys a reputation for excellence so it comes as no surprise that Australia produces some of the world’s greatest meat. When talking about meat, for me it has to be Australian. It’s the only country in the world where I truly trust the halal and food safety systems. It’s utterly delicious and a dream to cook with for anyone from a top executive chef to the home cook.” Whether visiting one of the UAE’s many steakhouse restaurants or cooking at home, this Australia Day visit www.lambandbeef.com  for top tips, inspiration and recipes.