Top 10 Halal Friendly Holiday Destinations 2014 ~ (OIC Countries)
Have you ever found it difficult to find a halal restaurant, a convenient place to perform obligatory prayers in airports, hotels, shopping centers, or recreational areas during vacation in your holiday destination countries? Most of us may say YES! Especially when you are visiting Muslim minority countries.
There are, however, increasingly more regions or countries with both Muslim and non-Muslim majorites which are seriously thinking about the needs of Muslims. Crescentrating, a Singapore-based Muslim travel specialist, issued a list of 60 Muslim friendly destination countries. The main criteria is based on the location’s suitability as a family holiday destination, the level of services and amenities it offers for Muslim travellers, and the creative marketing of the destination towards this segment.
The Chief Executive of Crescentrating, Fazal Bahardeen, has said, “The Muslim travel market was estimated to be worth USD 140 billion last year, accounting for almost 13 percent of the global total. It is expected to rise to USD 200 billion by 2020.” He added, “Japan was in 40th place among the 60 ranked, but its score is 10 notches up from 50th place last year — the biggest improvement overall.”
According to a survey published in 2014 by Crescentrating, the top ten halal friendly holiday destinations for that year in terms of OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) countries starts from number 10 and the lowest are:
Egypt is located in the northeast corner of Africa and the southwest corner of Asia. There are many interesting places that can be visited in Egypt, and in particular, there is much to learn about the history of the prophets and previous scholars. You can visit the Pyramids and Sphinx in Cairo, the temple and tomb in Luxor, you can take a short camel trek, or experience a dinner cruise on the Nile River. The country has a 90% Muslim (predominantly Sunni) population and it is not difficult to find halal food or a place to pray. However, Egypt’s rank as a halal friendly holiday destination fell sharply from a year ago according to the survey from 2104. In 2013, Egypt had achieved the rank of number two.
Tunisia is located in Northern Africa and has a number of Muslims (officially Sunni), estimated to 99.1%, but there are other groupings (including Christian, Jewish, Muslim Shia, and Baha’i) which number 1%. The top, commonly visited tourist attractions are the artefacts of ancient Carthage – the legendary wealthy maritime city of the Phoenicians – the Bay of Tunis, Bardo National Museum, Sidi Bou Said, Medina District (Old Town), and Olive Tree Mosque. In 2013, Tunisia was not included in the top 10 of halal friendly holiday destinations.
Qatar is located in the Arabian Peninsula and the population estimated to be 77.5% Muslim, 8.5% Christian, and 14% other (including mainly Hindu and other Indian religions). Qatar increased by two ranks as a halal friendly holiday countries according to Crescentrating and previously ranked number 8. Interesting places to visit in Qatar are the Museum of Islamic Art, the Mathaf Museum, Katara Cultural Village, Fort Zubarah, Souq Waqif (old traditional market), Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, and Barzan Tower.
Jordan is a beautiful country located in Asia with a Muslim population around 97.2% (officially predominantly Sunni). There are many historic sites of earlier prophets such as the Prophet Moses, Prophet Saleh, and Prophet Khidr (may peace and blessings be upon them all). Interesting places to visit are Amman, Jordan valley and the Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba, and Jerash. Please refer to a previous aMuslima article to learn more about Jordan.
Located in Northern Africa, the Moroccan Muslim population is considered to be 99% (officially virtually all Sunni, <.1% Shia). Because the population is mostly Muslim, mosques and halal food are not difficult to find. Places to visit are the Hassan II Mosque, located in Casablanca, and considered to be the second largest mosque in the world, the Karaouine Mosque in Morocco (also Recognised as Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque) which was established in 859 by Fatima Al-Fihri, the daughter of Mohammed Al -Fihri who was a rich merchant at the time, and the Koutoubia Mosque. It was called after the souk el koutoubiyyin, the market of the book-traders, which is close to the mosque. It is well-known that this market was invented in the 12th century during a long period when a European Christian would have been hard-pressed to write the word book. Please read another past article by aMuslima about Morocco.
- Saudi Arabia.
This country is certainly familiar to Muslims from all around the world. Saudi Arabia, located in the Middle East, has a number of Muslims (officially citizens are 85-90% 10-15% Sunni and Shia). Mecca and Medina are Muslim holy sites and cities for hajj and umrah pilgrims. In addition, the nearest city to Mecca is the city of Jeddah, which is convenient for shopping, as is the Saudi Arabian capital city of Riyadh. Read aMuslima writings about the cities in Arabia.
Indonesia is located in South Eastern Asia and the number of Muslims in Indonesia is 87.2%. As an island nation, Indonesia has many tribes scattered throughout the country. Each region has a regional language with different dialects but one national language. Towns visited by many tourists are Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, and Surabaya, as well as other islands outside Java with the typical landscape of each region such as Bali, Lombok, Sumatra, Komodo Island, Papua, Sulawesi , and Kalimantan.
Turkey is located in Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia (that portion of Turkey which is west of the Bosporus is geographically part of Europe). The number of Muslims in this country is 99.8% (mostly Sunni) and Turkey has a particular historical relic of victory for the Muslims in the Hagia Sophia, formerly a church, then changed into a mosque, which is now a museum in Istanbul. In addition, other interesting places are the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Topkapi palace, the Bosporus, Cappadocia, and Anatolia. You can read more in an article from aMuslima on Turkey.
- United Arab Emirates (UAE).
UAE is ranked number two for the halal friendly holiday destinations. The country is located in the Middle East and has a Muslim population of around 76%. The UAE is one of the countries of destination either for business or pleasure and is growing very rapidly. You can pay a visit to Dubai, Abudhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Qaiwain, Ra’s Al Khaimah, and Fujairah. Each federation of emirates have interesting attractions and it’s not hard to find mosques and halal food there. The UAE is a relatively modern Arab state, but the atmosphere of Muslim life is still felt.
Malaysia, located in South Eastern Asia, is number one of the halal friendly holiday destination countries. Its Muslim population numbers officially at 61.3%, so it is not difficult to find halal food and mosques in the country. There are many attractions in Malaysia, among them are the twin towers which has a height of 451.9 m in Kuala Lumpur, Genting Highlands, Langkawi Island, Sipadan Island, Pulau Redang, and many more.