UAE: Abu Dhabi eyes Halal tourism

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi mosqueAbu Dhabi is poised to become a leading destination for Halal Tourism, a fast emerging concept in the tourism industry that offers a range of holiday packages adhering to Islamic beliefs and practices.

Abu Dhabi’s Tourism and Culture Authority is roping in tour operators and hospitality groups to offer tailor-made packages to Halal tourists who do not wish to compromise their Islamic values while holidaying.

“We are working on a specific strategy for Halal tourism. It includes bringing together a range of products which would qualify as halal tourism but have never been collated to make a substantial offering,” Mubarak Al Nuaimi, Director Promotions & Overseas Offices, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, told XPRESS.

Specific demands

Halal Tourism packages include hotel stays with halal food and non-alcoholic beverages, separate leisure facilities for men and women, visits to mosques and places of Islamic heritage.

“We can meet specific Muslim demands on a number of fronts and halal F&B is one of them. We also have a number of high and medium quality alcohol-free hotels and segmented sessions for women,” added Nuaimi.

The Tourism Authority is already in talks with leading UK-based Halal tourism operator, Serendipity, to test the market.

Four hotels – One-To-One The Village; Ayla Hotel in Al Ain, Hala Arjaan by Rotana and Cristal Hotel in Abu Dhabi city are already listed on www.halalbooking com.

Nuaimi said some tour operators are already beginning to realise the potential of the market. “One example is Captain Tony’s dhow boat cruises, which now offers a ladies-only tour of the Corniche. Ladies-only sessions are also available at Yas Waterworld aqua park and on Wednesday nights at Yas Marina Circuit.”

The Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi will figure on any Halal tourism agenda.

Nuaimi said they are working with stakeholders to package post-Haj and post-Umrah breaks.

“We can link Muslim countries from the East to the West and those in the opposite direction via Abu Dhabi International Airport, and we hope that many will choose to break their journey in the emirate and eventually become convinced to stay longer.”

Stakeholders promoting Halal Tourism reckon it has immense potential.

“We are trying to create specific products that will add value to Muslim travellers,” said Nehme Imad Darwiche, Chief Executive Officer of Jannah Hotels and Resorts, whose company runs a chain of five non-alcoholic hotels in the UAE. Darwiche said they are creating separate pools and gym for women. “We are also looking into building a separate resort for halal tourism.

Another provider in this hospitality segment, Cristal Hotel in Abu Dhabi city said they are getting good response from the website.

“We expect the number of bookings to go up as Muslim travellers from different parts of the world are showing great interest in exploring Abu Dhabi,” said an official who does not want to be named.