Halal tourism: Kuala Lumpur welcomes the Muslim traveller, the other not want to

A small patch of grass, the skyscrapers sits between the international banks, and glitter in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur. There is a large statue of a pitcher with water and a bit of gold and red ramadas (pavilions) to recall the traditional Moroccan architecture. On the edge of the Park kebab-stalls and a small shopping centre. The gate at the entrance reads Ain Arabia.

How many purpose-built tourist attractions, this Arabian-themed urban village in Malaysia’s capital is a little hokey, and in the light of the scorching sun, only a few people mill around for a long time. But if it was built in 2005, the “the eye of Arabia” was a small gesture, in the Middle East and Muslim travelers – what other countries think of the Muslims that they were welcome in Kuala Lumpur.

Twelve years later, that message has paid off. Although it targets only 60% Muslim, Malaysia now ranks first on a global list of Muslim-friendly holiday. While in other countries, life is more difficult, Malaysia has specially marked courted Muslim traveller, with small tweaks, such as, for example, halal food and prayer rooms should be easily accessible and clear. The government is dedicated to the Islamic tourism center says, the country of 30 million now has over 5 million Muslim tourists in a year.

“After 9/11, it was travel difficult for many Muslims, especially from the Middle East to many of the traditional tourist destinations such as Europe and the United States,” says Fazal bahardeen told, the founder of the Crescent Rating”, the travel company behind the ranking. “Malaysia was one of the first countries, the potential of this market.”

Kuala Lumpur ‘s” Eye of Arabia’. Photo: Vincent Bevins

It’s often the simple things that a Muslim-friendly environment, he says. “A common misconception is that ‘Muslim-tourism” means that people will go to Muslim things. But in reality, you are going to do the same things – you may want to experience a shopping experience, or a beach, or a local cultural experience. You want to have fun, like everyone else, but you just want to know, you don’t have to worry about their basic faith-based requirements.”

The influx of Muslim tourists in parts of Kuala Lumpur has transformed. Ain Arabia now feels almost modest in comparison to the much larger and more lucrative business catering to Muslim tourists. The main road on Bukit Bintang street is almost exclusively Arab and Oriental specialities, and there are designer fashion boutiques, luxury hotels and the shopping centre, Pavilion Mall, where families from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and many other countries spend shopping hours.

“I personally deal with Arabic-speakers, but there are also Iranians and Muslim tourists, who fled from everywhere,” says Nagmaldeen Amer, a 25-year-old Yemeni war, and found a job, in the Ain Arabia mall, sale of travel packages to the Islands or theme parks outside of Kuala Lumpur.

In addition to Amer stall a Bangladeshi barber, Prodip Chandra is specialized in curly hair and beards. “Malaysians do not really always wear a beard laughs,” Amer. “Here, this is a special ability.”

Kuala Lumpur (Bukit Bintang street, a popular destination for Muslims. Photo: Vincent Bevins

Tourism is important to the majority of South-East Asian countries. In Malaysia, more than 10% of the population work in this sector. However, while other regional main draw cities, their fair share of hard-drinking party-goers, Bukit Bintang street attracts Smoking couples shisha and drink tea.

The world’s largest Muslim population next to Indonesia, Malaysia, relative wealth has more of an attraction for well-heeled Arab tourists. While the Muslims are a minority of overall visitors to the country, they tend to spend more money, says Zulkifly Md Said, Director of the country, the Islamic tourism centre.

“Out of 57, we are the only member of the organization of Islamic cooperation, with a special Islamic tourism Department,” he says. “We have it in the year 2009, when we shut down our Commonwealth tourism centre.”

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He argued that Malaysia’s multiculturalism – has used the two largest non-Malay groups of the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities – the fact that you are flexible with different religious interpretations. “It is not so complicated. Our Muslim visitors want something that is convenient, but at the same time something a little different.”

The government tried to help through counseling of local businesses, which relates to certain Muslim, such as, for example, which clearly indicates exactly when the summer time starts and ends during the Ramadan. He jokes that during the time of fasting, Malaysia is a nice change of pace – the days in summer are shorter than in many Arab countries.

This year, Ramadan began on 26 may, and a few weeks later, the high season for the Middle East tourism starts, as the high temperatures, the press and the families of the Gulf States and down into the tropics. Chandra, in Bangladesh, the barber, says he is looking forward to the work.

“I don ‘ T care. You can see from Muslim countries, you can go from here, you can from anywhere.”

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