If you didn’t manage to make your way abroad to celebrate Eid al-Fitr this year, there are many Halaal Tourism destinations keeping their doors wide open if you decide to take a holiday later on this year.
According to the MasterCard Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index, the top four destinations for Muslim travellers globally are Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, with these destinations offering Muslim-friendly travel services and facilities, such as Halaal food and prayer facilities in public centres.
There’s still a few months of the year left to make your way to these international destinations, but it’s also never too early to start planning your Eid breakaway for 2019, says Nicky Potgieter, Leisure Marketing Leader Flight Centre Travel Group South Africa.
For Muslim travellers wishing to started on their holiday planning, Flight Centre offers a few popular options:
Expect great value for money and easy access through e-visas and a direct flight from South Africa to Turkey. Start out by following your nose in the direction of those delicious street kebabs. Try a döner, iskender or adana variation, add a plate of fresh pita bread topped with yogurt, and you’ll be smiling throughout your trip. A definite highlight in the capital is the awe-inspiring Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque,
Travel tip: Be sure to set aside enough time to browse the Grand Bazaar, the oldest market in Istanbul. You can get lost in its paradise of goodies for hours, says Zaheda Chothia, Travel Expert at Flight Centre, Matlosana Mall.
The official religion of Malaysia is Islam, which makes it one of the best countries to visit as a Muslim traveller, especially during Eid, where it is commonly referred to as Hari Raya Aidilfitri. While in Kuala Lumpur, be sure to witness the iconic Petronas Towers, rising to 88 floors. Continue with some sightseeing to Mount Kinabalu, the limestone Batu Caves, and the Perhentian Islands for some quality family time near the beach.
Travel tip: As a tip for the ladies, carry an extra sarong which triples up as a towel, a prayer mat and a head scarf. It’s nice and light so you don’t need to carry a prayer mat or towel, especially if out on a day tour, says Chothia.
#3 UAE – Dubai and Abu Dhabi
This year, holiday the Emirati way in the UAE, where you’ll be welcomed with a perfect blend of Islamic etiquette and Arabic hospitality. Dubai and Abu Dhabi really is an experience not to be missed, especially if you’re an avid shopper, or heading abroad with the family. If it’s your first time in Dubai, a visit to the Dubai Dolphinarium is a great for the kids, as is a trip to the infamous Atlantis the Palm for some non-stop fun outdoors.
Travel tip: While visiting the mosques, get recommendations from the local Muslims on the best Halaal restaurants and things to do, says Nadine Abader, Travel Expert at Flight Centre, Cradlestone.“They might know something special you haven’t yet heard about yet.”
#4 Cape Town
For travellers looking closer to home, Cape Town is one of the top 10 most Muslim-friendly destinations according to the Global Muslim Travel Index. Cape Town Tourism is driving a range of initiatives aimed at making the destination even more Muslim-friendly, so it’s a great short-term option if you’re looking for somewhere close to home.
Travel tip: Pack your own padkos when flying locally, and while in Cape Town, visit The Auwal Mosque in Bo-Kaap. It’s the oldest mosque in the city, adds Abader. “Then, when you get hungry, head up to Biesmiellah, a restaurant which has been serving the local Cape Muslim community for over 40 years.”
Wherever you go, vegetarian or vegan food anywhere in the world is sometimes a lot safer to go for and is typically easier to access, but in Mauritius, you won’t have a problem, says Zay Ferguson, Team Leader at Flight Centre Eastgate Shopping Centre. “With around 18% of the population being Muslim, you’ll find Halaal friendly hotels and eateries throughout, with several mosques and prayer facilities in the major areas across the island. Port Louis features two of the oldest Masjid.”
Travel tip: Add more bush to your beach time at Black River Gorges National Park, with hiking trails through rainforests and waterfalls. The seven multi-colored Chamarel is a must, as is the Underwater Sea Walk at Grand Baie.