SINGAPORE: Malaysia has been rated the world’s top Muslim-friendly holiday destination in a survey released yesterday that listed Egypt, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Singapore as runners-up.
The study by Singapore-based Muslim travel consultancy Crescentrating ranked countries on how well they cater for the growing number of Muslim holidaymakers seeking halal food and services.
The survey took into account the level of safety in a country, easy access to halal food and prayer facilities, and if hotels catered for the needs of Muslim guests.
On a scale of one to 10 in which 10 is the best score, Malaysia came out number one with a grade of 8.3 among 50 nations surveyed.
Egypt was second with 6.7, followed by the UAE and Turkey with 6.6 each. Saudi Arabia was in fourth place with a score of 6.4 and Singapore was fifth with 6.3. Indonesia, Morocco and Jordan scored 6.1 to tie in sixth place, trailed by Brunei, Qatar, Tunisia and Oman, all with a score of 6.0 in seventh place.
Crescentrating chief executive Fazal Bahardeen said the survey was taken from the travellers’ perspective on easy access by Muslim tourists — not locals — to halal food and facilities.
“Malaysia is one of the few countries where you can find a prayer place in almost every location — be it a shopping mall or the airport,” Fazal told AFP.
He said while Malaysian authorities have been focusing on the market for several years, Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has not done as well.
Saudi Arabia has become a holiday destination for the first time since the survey started in 2011 because more Muslims go there to perform the Umrah, Fazal said.
In terms of shopping destinations, Dubai pipped Kuala Lumpur for the No 1 spot, according to the survey which studied the availability of halal food and prayer facilities at shopping malls. Istanbul, Jeddah, Singapore, Cairo, Abu Dhabi, New Delhi, London and Doha completed the top 10 shopping destinations. — AFP
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on Jan 17, 2013.