These days, Muslims are becoming increasingly mobile, constantly needing to travel for both work and leisure. This results in the increasing need for Shariah-compliant products and services to cater to the needs of this largely untapped but lucrative niche market. Travelling to a non-Muslim country can prove to be inconvenient for Muslims travellers as prayer facilities and halal food are not readily available.
In the latest survey conducted by DinarStandard, a leading US-based survey institute for the Muslim travel market, which was presented during the 2013 International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin, Malaysia was named one of the world’s favourite destinations among Muslim travellers, alongside Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Respondents cited prayer facilities, halal food and a Muslim-friendly atmosphere as being the most important factors in determining their choices in the survey.
In another survey released recently by CrescentRating, a Singapore-based Muslim travel consultancy, Malaysia was rated the world’s top Muslim-friendly destination years with bigger Muslim countries, namely Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Turkey, trailing behind. In fact, Malaysia has been occupying the number one spot in the same survey for three consecutive years. In this survey, countries were ranked on how well they cater to the needs of Muslim travellers, which include easily available halal food and prayer facilities and hotels catering to the needs of Muslim guests, as well as level of safety. Among the 50 countries listed in this study, Malaysia came out on top with a score of 8.3 over 10.
Being a Muslim country which places great emphasis on the comfort and convenience of its Muslim residents and guests, Malaysia perfectly caters to the needs of Muslim travellers. Mosques and mushollas can easily be found in each district around the country, and ample prayer facilities are available almost everywhere – tourist attractions, shopping malls, airports, parks and most public places. Most restaurants in the country serve halal food – including international fast-food franchises – which are all certified by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM), Malaysia’s sole Halal certification body. Many of Malaysia’s accommodation including international hotel chains provide Qibla direction and prayer mats in their guest rooms. The country also offers Islamic tour packages which accommodate religious needs such as prayer stops during tours and halal meals.
Coupled with a stable political, economic and social climate, Malaysia is the ideal Muslim-friendly destination which appeals even to non-Muslims. For Muslims travellers, choosing Malaysia as their travel destination simply translates to an unlimited great time without having to compromise on one’s duties as a Muslim.