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Mamak Food the Malaysian Eatery Experience

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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  • Middle East | 6 Countries That'll Instantly Make You Not Want To Leave

    When it comes to Muslim-friendly destinations, there is no area more perfect than the Middle Eastern region, and the growing popularity of travelling to the Middle East makes it much easier for halal travel. Countries that are ruled by Muslim monarchs translates to abundant Muslim-friendly services like halal food, places to pray, and even segregation in areas like water parks, the metro, and public buses. It means that even though Middle Eastern destinations comprise of a large expat population, they are used to Islamic culture and attire, and religious biases are practically non-existent. If you’re looking for a relaxing holiday with little stress and more spontaneity, check out these top 6 Middle Eastern countries (in no particular order) that you should visit: 1) United Arab Emirates When it comes to where to travel in the Middle East, this is a no-brainer, as far as tourist destinations go, Dubai is on the map. But the UAE has made sure that the rest of the Emirates step up their game as well, and every place has something to offer. Whether it is living the fast life, big entertainment, touring the best mosques, or discovering Arab culture, UAE has it all. Attractions Abu Dhabi: Ferrari World, Yas Water WorldDubai: Wild Wadi, Ski Dubai, Sky Dive, Parasailing, Desert SafariAl Ain: Jabal al HafeetHatta: Hatta Kayak Must-Visit Architecture Abu Dhabi: Sheikh Zayed mosque; Dubai: Burj Khalifa, Burj al Arab, Atlantis, Bastakia in Bur Dubai, Souq;Sharjah: Blue Souq; Ras Al Khaimah: Al Jazirat Al Hamra (a spooky abandoned village rumoured to be haunted, it is also known as Ghost Town. It dates back to the 14th century and is a must-visit for history buffs and anyone who has wanted to visit the set of a horror movie); Fujairah: Al Bidyah Mosque (the oldest mosque in the UAE, built in 1446) Getting around Dubai with public transport is fairly easy thanks to the Dubai Metro. The cabin after Gold Class is ladies only, as well as the front section on public buses. Similarly, Wild Wadi has ladies night in the summer, and Jabal al Hafeet has segregated hot spring areas that you can bathe in. With masjids, every few feet or so, and prayer rooms in the malls, praying while you’re on the move is not an issue. Make the most of the halal food cuisine with every country’s food imaginable. All restaurants are halal certified (only hotel buffets might serve pork), so eating out is a breeze! UAE is considered to be a pricey destination, and that is true if you want to splurge on the big entertainment venues like theme parks and adventure sports. You can balance it out, however, by going to the beach, roaming around the souqs, taking a ride in the abra at the Creek which is the cheapest ride you’ll ever get in the country, and taking the time to soak up the culture. You can find cheaper accommodations as compared to the hotels like furnished apartments, and thanks to the Dubai Metro, you are connected to the rest of the city. 2) Saudi Arabia  We know that Saudi Arabia isn’t really known as a tourist destination – just one for Hajj and Umrah. Some people just go for the pilgrimage, while others take tour packages that show them the sites of Islamic history. Even though that is what Saudi is most famous for, it does have more to offer than just that. Attractions If you are in the vicinity of Makkah and Madinah, then you’re in the vicinity of Islamic historic sites. The battlefields of Badr and Uhud, the first masjid ever built there, Masjid Qiblatayn – the masjid with the two qiblahs, and so much more. If you are at all interested in Islamic history, it pays to put an image to the names. Durrat Al Arous Island north of Jeddah houses Albatoul Marine which is a fun place for adventure sports. Flyboarding is bit pricey here, but worth it if you’ve ever wanted to walk – no, fly – on water! Water jets are attached to your boots and up you go! Must-Visit Architecture Without a doubt, the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and Masjid an-Nabawi in Madinah are mandatory. Not just because they are spectacular and places of such peace and tranquillity despite the hustle and bustle, but because they are also home to great reward. Any prayer offered here is multiplied immensely. Credit: Wikipedia Muslims visiting Saudi rarely leave without visiting one of these sites. What most people don’t make it to are the Madain Saleh and sites. Jubbah and Shuwaymus are the areas with rock carving show that there that is so much more to Saudi Arabian history that is yet to be explored. The carvings are in a different language and depict what life was like in those days, much like hieroglyphics. Madain Saleh is not just for history buffs. These fascinating structures built so many thousands of years ago still stand today, attesting to an era long gone but not entirely forgotten. The area used to have fresh water that attracted many settlers who then carved out structures. Today, it is completely dry but the buildings still stand. As with countries in the Middle East, certain attractions can be rather pricey. But when it comes to history, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. 3) Qatar  Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world, and its lifestyle reflects that. Just step into the airport and you are surrounded by brand names and items that seem like they belong in a dream. Despite all this modernity though, Qatar still maintains its heritage, and it is one of the best places to visit. Attractions Credit: Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara on Facebook Banana Island Resort by Anantara is truly a paradise. Even if you’re not staying at the luxury hotel, you can still enjoy the premises. Its tropical flora makes you forget you’re in the Middle East, and you are treated to a range of cuisines. Make the most of the beach and sea, go bowling or take a Segway ride on this almost-private island. Credit: Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) on Facebook In complete contrast is the Museum of Islamic Arts which houses the largest Islamic art collection in the world. Curated from three different continents, Qatar is proud of this gem not only because of what is within but because the structure itself is magnificent, designed by the architect of the Louvre Pyramid. On its own island with a palm-tree lined entrance, set amid a vast landscape and an impeccable view across the water, this place is worth the visit. Credit: Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) on Facebook There are guided tours in English and Arabic every Thursday at 2pm of the permanent collection housed on two floors. Unlike other museums, the Museum of Islamic Arts is organised in such a way that you get a feel of what Islamic art is truly like through the homogeneity of a single print used across various medium. Visitors are requested to avoid strappy and short clothing and you might be restricted from entering. Must-Visit Architecture While some prefer the air-conditioned climate of malls, others would rather take in the culture while roaming the souqs. Souq Waqif is one such place that you should not miss. Contradicting the high-end fashion and attire visible in the malls, the streets are where you get a taste of what Qatar is really like. Vibrant in its sights, smells and feels, Souq Waqif has beautiful traditional bukhoor, spices, and embroidered clothing. Credit: Katara It is also a testament to history as it is where Bedouins would come to trade their essentials too. Katara Cultural Village is a beautiful man-made location to soak up more heritage. From the architecture to the Greek-Islamic style amphitheatre, people flock there in the evenings when the weather gets cooler to enjoy the outdoors. There are restaurants, mosques, and a beach right with water sports and inflatable play complexes, making it the perfect family spot. Qatar is known to be a pricey location but the country is also very hospitable. If you want to live in the lap of luxury for a few days, this is the place for you. 4) Oman  Even though Oman is in the Middle East – and generally what comes to mind when one thinks of ‘Middle East’ is ‘desert’, Oman is one of the few countries that actually has a tropical oasis region. Laidback and serene, the country has plenty to offer tourists. Since a slice of Oman juts into the UAE, many residents of UAE take the opportunity on long weekends or holidays to avail the natural sites available. However, if you decide to stay there exclusively, there is so much more that you can do. Attractions As always, souqs are part of the Middle Eastern charm and Muttrah Souq is no exception. Go there to get your fix of gahwah or Arabic coffee, bargain for souvenirs, or simply to enjoy the feel of being in an Arab country. The beaches of Musandam are one of the areas that you will find people on day trips as it is separated from Oman by a piece of UAE land. Pristine white sands and clear blue waters make this a hot tourist spot. Credit: Richard Bartz on Wikipedia Oman believes in conserving their land and natural resources and this is evident at Ras al Jinz, a natural reserve for endangered green turtles, located on the east coast. Visitors can observe them laying their eggs, and even catch them hatching and returning to the sea. Wadi Bani Khalid is one of those areas that are striking and green as it has a spring that keeps running year round. Add those palm trees to the shades of red that the rocks are made of, and you have a very Instagrammable location. #prettyasapicture #nofilter Credit: Philipp Weigell on Wikipedia Salalah is the vacation spot inside your holiday. Tropical, cool and like a world of its own, this is a must-visit. If you want your holiday to include a bit of a workout, be sure to head to Jabal al Akhdar. Translating to The Green Mountain, it gets its name from the greenery spattered across it, but it is well known for its hiking trails. Another great spot is Jabal ash-Shams, or Mountain of the Sun, so called as it is believed to be the first point that the sun touches when it rises. It is the highest peak in the region and has some great views. Majlis al Jinn is for the rock climbers out there as it has the second largest cave chamber in the world. The Bimmah Sinkhole is a natural phenomenon caused by limestone that eroded below the surface leaving a spectacularly blue-green pool for swimming. Must-Visit Architecture Credit: World Architecture Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque has to be one of the staples on your list of sights to see. This Grand Mosque is one of the chain of Sultan Qaboos mosques built around the world. The high arches, golden domes, engraved walls and a beautiful interior should not be missed. The Royal Opera House sounds like it belongs in England, but this one is in Oman. Besides the various international performances that the venue is used for, you can tour the location that resembles a palace. Oman is like one of those shy kids standing in the back; only when you decide to look further do you realise the gems it has to offer. 5) Kuwait  Kuwait may not be a tourist hotspot, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t waiting to be explored. Like the UAE, Kuwait is known for its modernity and high rise buildings, but they also keep a strong hold on their roots and culture. Kuwait is one of the smaller Middle Eastern countries, but it is worth the trip. When travelling around the GCC, what is striking is that, even though they all appear to be the same on the outside, different aspects of heritage and culture stand out when you dig deep. Attractions Housing an Imax cinema, aquarium, dhow harbour, and a discovery palace, The Scientific Centre is the best place to take kids. The floor-to-ceiling shark and ray tanks are incredible to see, and getting your hands dirty in the Discovery Palace allows kids to get lost in the wonder of science. Credit: @aquaparkq8 on Instagram In addition to viewing the different regions present in the aquarium – the desert, coastal edge, and sea zone – you can also dive with sharks if you have a valid diving licence. The age for diving is 14 years and older. If you don’t want to swim with sharks, no problem! Head to Aqua Park, a major water theme park in Kuwait. Whether you are a child or an adult, Aqua Park has something for everyone. Fancy lazing around? Grab a tube and float on the Lazy River. Want an adrenalin shot? Try the Boomerango. There are cafes and restaurants inside the park which are all halal, but as food can be a bit pricey, take at least a bottle of water with you. Tuesdays are now reserved for ladies’ day, but even if you go with the family, there are separate changing areas for men and women and separate prayer areas. Bikinis are not allowed. Credit: Mirror House The Mirror House is definitely a must-see as, even though it is an art display, it is more like art in action. You will not be bored. Each room is explained by the Italian-Kuwaiti artist and took around 40 years to complete. Yes, 40 years! It better be good! With visual effect and getting the visitors to interact with the art, this is one thing you have to experience to understand. Falaika Island is where you can see true history. Take a ferry to the island that is now an open-air museum, depicting the war. Must-Visit Architecture As with all the Gulf countries, the local Grand Mosque is a must-visit. The architecture is unique to the country and its history, and Kuwait’s Grand Mosque is no exception. With the hustle and bustle of the city, head here to admire the structure and bask in the tranquility. Kuwait Towers are also an iconic part of the city. With a viewing platform and a restaurant, you can grab a bite while you cast your glance of a view over almost the entire country. Tareq Rajab Museum is another standout location to visit. Housing some of the most beautiful pieces in history – think jewels and garments fit for a princess – the collection of Arabic manuscripts is what rocks it to international standards. Mercifully, while the rest of the museum was being looted by Iraqi soldiers during the war, this area was left untouched thanks to the quick thinking of the local guards. The Kuwaiti Dinar is one of the strongest currencies in the world, so don’t be fooled by the small numbers. 6) Bahrain  If you’re looking for a totally laidback holiday, Bahrain is the place to go. As a small country that mostly keeps to itself, Bahrain isn’t on the map as a tourist destination. There are plenty of low-key things you can keep yourself occupied with though, so if this is you, keep reading. Attractions Camping in the desert might seem like a risky move – “What about the snakes and scorpions?” – but wait till you see the level of camping. With proper toilets, plasma TVs, and food in your tents, just think of it as a relocation of your hotel room. Camping is open from October 15th to March 31st. Head to Hawar Island off the coast of Qatar to bask in nature. It is a protected wildlife reserve that is under Qatar as well, and a beautiful place to get away from desert life. Explore the souqs for your regular souvenirs. Just walking around the souq will expose you to items that you wouldn’t even have thought of getting. The biggest thing that Bahrain is known for is hosting the Grand Prix, so be sure to time your holiday around then and grab some tickets! You can’t leave Bahrain without taking an authentic souvenir for yourself, and what better way to do that than to go pearl diving? If you’re finding it hard to decide between buying traditional keepsakes and regular ones, you can take your time exploring Al Jasra Handicraft Centre with displays work by local artisans, or going across to the Capital Mall. Must-Visit Architecture Were you expecting to visit a mosque? Don’t miss Al Fateh Grand Mosque! Muslims and non-Muslims alike are allowed to tour the impressive mosque on Open Day. Qal’at al Bahrain is the 16th century remains of a Bahrain or Portuguese fort that is free to look around. Going back in time a hundred years is the Arad Fort, a 15th century fort that initially guarded its own island before being joined to Muharraq Island. It differs from Qal’at al Bahrain by its Islamic architecture, as it was built before the Portuguese invaded Bahrain. The currency in Bahrain is also pretty strong compared to the other Gulf countries, so the prices can seem a bit steep at times. With the few things there are to do in Bahrain though, we think a few days is enough time to visit....

  • Save Earth: Say No To Plastic Even When You're Traveling The World

    Earth Day this year focused on plastics and how they are affecting the environment. With so much plastic use in our daily routine, we don’t even realize how much damage we are doing, or how much of a difference we can make if we decide to switch to more environment-friendly options. Plastic usage is a big deal because our planet is riddled with so much waste, plastic is the most harmful. You’re probably wondering why you should care enough to change your life for it. Well, here are a few facts to motivate you:Humans across the earth use 2 million plastic bags per minute. And each bag can take up to 500 years to decompose. Disrupting marine life and reducing the health of the oceans is one of the biggest factors to rapid global warming. 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds are killed every year thanks to our plastic pollution. It’s not just that animals can choke and die from the items that end up in the sea, but microplastics that we can’t even see end up in our oceans too, are absorbed by the marine life, which is then eaten by us. The problem is so severe that babies born today are already pre-polluted because of what we take in. Research shows that if we continue on with our use of plastics, the fish in the oceans will be outweighed by pollution by 2050. Yikes! Cutting back on our waste and being mindful of what we use and how we use it really only saves us and our planet. It might be easier to have that mindset at home, but it becomes much harder when you’re traveling and just want to relax. This is why we came up with ways on how to reduce plastic pollution and waste while traveling. They are not difficult, but definitely help towards reducing your carbon footprint: 1. Carry your own water bottle Single-use plastics are some of the worst offenders, and water bottles are amongst them. Instead of using the bottle from the airline, or buying one when you need everywhere you go, carry your own. It’s the simplest way to start. Think about all the bottles that you would have thrown away and how just this simple step makes that much of a difference. If you are someone who needs to have coffee to go, invest in a coffee cup that you can take with you, or simply say no to the lid on their takeaway cup. 2. Get your own set of utensils  Again in the single-use category, plastic disposables are responsible for a major portion of plastic waste. Regarding plastic straws alone, the hospitality industry throws away 96,000 of them in just 8 months. Let’s face it; you don’t need a straw to drink, so skip it. If you do, there are reusable stainless steel or bamboo straws available. You can also get your own set of cutlery to use on the flight or anywhere else disposables might be used, and make sure your takeaway doesn’t have them thrown in either. 3. Carry your own headphones  Airplane headphones are cheap and flimsy, and if you don’t have your own, taking them out of their (plastic) packaging means they will just get tossed away once you’ve used it. 4. Don’t stock up on mini travel packs  Picture Credit: Charisse Kenion on Unsplash The tiny bottles might be cute, but will only last your one trip before they are thrown out. Invest in reusable bottles that you can refill with your own shampoo, shower gel and conditioner and a durable pack to put them all in. 5. Carry your own reusable bag  Picture Credit: Katy Belcher on Unsplash Considering how many plastic bags end up in the dump and the hundreds of years they will each take to decompose, this seems like a no-brainer. There are some really cute, fun tote bags or reusable bags that you can carry with you when you decide to go shopping. Simply fold them up small and stuff them in your pocket or backpack so that you don’t have to carry an empty bag around. 6. Plan  This might seem like a strange point but planning can reduce a lot of the last minute impulse buys that you could have avoided. Plan your bag size and make sure your water bottle fits in it. Plan your route if you are going out for the day so that you know whether to take your utensils with you or if you can come back for them before lunch – because they are of no help sitting in your hotel room! Plan your carry-on for the flight and make sure your headphones are easily accessible. If they are hard to get to, chances are you will just use the ones the airline gives you. You’re not being conscious and going through the effort to ditch it at the last minute. 7. It is ok to say no  This is just one of the tips on how to avoid plastic while traveling. There is so much that we can reduce on if we just said no. Refuse all plastic bags at the store when you carry your own tote bag; say no to the extra disposables the restaurant throw in with your takeaway; you don’t need a lid or a plastic stirrer with your coffee. We think refusing might offend people, but it’s all in our head. 8. Spread the word  If people give you a quizzical look, just say, “I’m trying to cut back on plastics.” No need to get all preachy or self-righteous on them. Say it with a smile and they can take it or leave it. It might even spark some interesting conversation! Hotels are also becoming more conscious of their carbon footprint and are moving to reduce it, removing as much single-use plastics and disposables where they can. Hilton aims to halve its environmental footprint and double its social impact by 2030 and is making massive changes in all its hotels across the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. Millennium Hotels and Resorts in Singapore, Marriot hotels (as well as the luxury boutique hotel chain, Edition, it co-owns), a luxury hotel opening up in Abu Dhabi and several environmental-conscious hotels in the UK are moving forward towards becoming greener in their approach to hospitality. Staying at these hotels in the future will make it much easier if you’re looking for zero-waste travel tips. A lot of people don’t think that anything they do will make much of....

  • Top 10 Muslim-friendly OIC Destinations

    The Global Muslim Travel Index for 2018 is out! If you’re wondering what the most Muslim-friendly countries are for the year 2018, getting yourself a copy of the latest index is an absolute must! Covering 130 destinations - both, OIC and non-OIC -, the Global Muslim Travel Index 2018 by Mastercard and CrescentRating rank these countries based on key criteria covering access, communications, environment and services. The OIC destinations that scored the top spots in the index all offer a plethora of facilities and services that Muslims look for when traveling; from Halal food and prayer facilities, to affordability and accessibility. Here’s a look at the top 10 Muslim-friendly OIC destinations in 2018 that are doing all the right things to make Muslim travellers feel right at home!   Malaysia Picture Credit: www.lonelyplanet.com It’s no surprise that once again, for the eighth consecutive year; Malaysia has managed to keep its top position in the global Muslim travel market! One of the most sought after travel destinations for Muslim families, as well as honeymooners and backpackers, Malaysia is a country that does not only offer endless things to do and see; from cultural wonders to spectacular natural sites, but its Muslim-majority status and the countless facilities they offer, attract Muslim tourists from around the world who are looking to have an unforgettable holiday while also staying true to their religious beliefs. Considered as one of the fastest developing countries in the world, Malaysia combines old-world charm and modern city-life effortlessly. Like most Muslim-majority countries, Malaysia is home to plenty of mosques; including some of the most beautiful in the world, and even offer prayer rooms and ablution facilities in most malls and major attractions. In addition to that, Halal food can be found throughout the country, from street-side carts to food courts to renowned, top-notch restaurant, thus the convenience. Along with the amazing tourist experience they offer, they are certainly proving to be unbeatable! Find Halal food places in Malaysia Find Mosques and Prayer places in Malaysia   Indonesia Picture Credit: blog.davestpay.com Next on the list, and tying with the United Arab Emirates in second place, is beautiful Indonesia! A fantastic destination for Muslim travellers, this Muslim-majority country is one of the most perfect spot for that Muslim-friendly holiday you’ve been dreaming of for a while! While this Southeast Asian country remains as a popular destination for both Muslim and non-Muslims, Indonesia truly defines what it means to be Muslim-friendly. Halal food can be found almost anywhere in the country, and mosques and prayer places are available throughout. Indonesia ticks all the right boxes. From offering Muslim travellers all of the Muslim-friendly facilities they require, to its natural beauty, and its cultural diversity and even being a destination for shopaholics and foodies, Indonesia is a destination unlike any other! Find Halal food places in Indonesia Find Mosques and Prayer places in Indonesia   The United Arab Emirates Picture Credit: www.zocalopublicsquare.org The United Arab Emirates, along with Indonesia, took the second spot in the Global Muslim Travel Index 2018. A collection of seven Emirates; Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, and Umm al-Quwain, the UAE is a Muslim country that has been in the limelight for the past few years, due to its ‘bigger is better’ attitude. From being home to some of the biggest and most well-known attractions in the world, to its incredible world-renowned food scene and its note-worthy infrastructure. Even boasting some of the world’s best Muslim-friendly facilities and its diversity in culture, Dubai is without a doubt one of the most popular tourist destinations across the globe. Finding mosques and prayer places along with Halal food in the country’s major cities, like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, will be incredibly easy, and finding the same, is just as effortless in its lesser known ones as well. Find Halal food places in UAE  Find Mosques and Prayer places in UAE   Turkey Picture Credit: www.worldatlas.com The vibrant country of Turkey has long been a destination attracting tourists from all over the world. Its fascinating history, culture and customs, along with its spectacular attractions and beautiful architecture, stunning natural scenery and its location makes it one of the most popular travel destinations in the world! Long being enchanting visitors, Turkey also has some of the most mouth-watering food! And, all of you out there who travel to taste and discover new exciting dishes; since the country is made up of mostly Muslims, almost all the food found throughout is Halal! Mosques are scattered throughout the country, and that along with all other Muslim-friendly amenities the country offers, make Muslims always feel right at home when visiting. Find Halal food places in Turkey Find Mosques and Prayer places in Turkey   Saudi Arabia Picture Credit: www.kozanbilgi.net Saudi Arabia is one of the top countries in the world for Muslim travel, especially due to it being home to the sacred cities of Makkah and Madinah. Muslims travel across the world to Saudi Arabia at least once in their lifetime to perform the Holy pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah. However, Saudi Arabia’s other cities also offer plenty to do and see; from Islamic heritage sites, to modern attractions, making Saudi Arabia the ultimate Muslim-friendly destination. One thing that Muslims are sure to find exciting, is that only Halal food can be found throughout the country, so eating out can be done without a worry in the world! The country also has countless mosques and prayer rooms, which means no matter where you are; in a mall, or even driving across the dessert, finding prayer facilities can be done so with ease. Find Halal food places in Saudi Arabia Find Mosques and Prayer places in Saudi Arabia   Qatar Picture Credit: www.iloveqatar.net Qatar is the new up-and-coming destination, fast following in the steps of some of the UAE’s major cities, such as Dubai. The Middle Eastern country; known for its futuristic architecture and impressive, modern skyline, is developing rapidly and becoming a must-visit destination for Muslim travelers. It offers a great blend of rich culture and traditions, along with a sophisticated art and food scene, making it an exciting destination for Muslims to discover. As with all of the countries in this list, its majority-Muslim population means that Muslim-friendly facilities like Halal food, as well as mosques and prayer rooms, can be found throughout. Find Halal food places in Qatar Find Mosques and Prayer places in Qatar   Bahrain Picture Credit: itcsecure.com Moving a few spots up in the Global Muslim Travel Index 2018, from the 2017 index, Bahrain may not be as well-known as some other Middle Eastern countries, but the destination is rapidly gaining recognition as a superb destination for Muslim travelers due to a number of factors. The island-nation boasts a laid-back vibe, which attracts those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life while not compromising on their religious values. It is home to numerous historical and cultural sites, offers visitors a fascinating look into wealthy Arab life and culture, and also has a plethora of Muslim-friendly facilities. Halal food and prayer facilities are widely found around the country, thus making it incredibly easy for Muslim visitors to explore it without a worry. Find Halal food places in Bahrain Find Mosques and Prayer places in Bahrain   Oman Picture Credit: www.constructionweekonline.com Next up, is the exotic destination of Oman! The Islamic country offers Muslim travellers an incredible experience, by featuring all of the Muslim-friendly facilities visitors usually look for in a destination; Halal food and prayer facilities, as well as numerous fascinating attractions and sites, making it a gem of a destination that can be discovered with ease, and thus a popular getaway spot for those in neighbouring countries. The country is steeped in history and has managed to keep its roots without letting development take over. From incredible culture immersions, to the friendliest of people, to beach getaways, mountain treks and desert escapades, to breathtaking natural scenery and ancient sites, we truly can’t think of another place that offers everything that the spectacular country of Oman does! Find Halal food places in Oman Find Mosques and Prayer places in Oman   Morocco Picture Credit: www.moroccokeytravel.com This list would definitely be incomplete without the addition of colourful Morocco! A well-known travel destination; the North African country of Morocco is one that will enchant you with its incredible, diverse culture, its natural beauty and spectacular beaches, its fascinating ancient cities and rich deserts, its warm hospitality and its delicious, fragrant food. And it only gets better because of its Muslim-friendliness! With the country being predominantly Muslim, it has all the amenities Muslim travellers look for when planning a getaway. Halal food is widely found across Morocco, and so are mosques and prayer rooms. Find Halal food places in Morocco Find Mosques and Prayer places in Morocco   Kuwait Picture Credit: www.worldtravelguide.net Kuwait takes the Global Muslim Travel Index’s tenth spot for the year 2018, and we think that’s definitely well deserved! While not as loud and luxurious as other well known Middle Eastern countries, Kuwait’s charm is magnetic and undeniable. Ideal for those looking to experience that ‘Arab feel’, Kuwait is home to some wonderful attractions, and its natural beauty is certainly something to write about. The country features some fantastic museums, a lively food scene, some lovely beaches and pretty souqs. Its predominantly Muslim population also means that no matter where in the country you are, prayer facilities are easy to find and Halal restaurants are aplenty! Find Halal food places in Kuwait Find Mosques and Prayer places in Kuwait   Go on a Halal Trip with us!...

  • 6 Ways You Can Experience Wakanda in Real Life [Updated]

    Picture Credit - Original Image © Marvel Studios' Black Panther ***Spoiler alert!!!***   The following article contains spoilers from the Black Panther film.  You have been warned! via GIPHY Marvel Studio’s Black Panther has been making waves online for its empowering representation of a futuristic, ethnic hybrid of pan-African culture and civilisation that is Wakanda.  Fans all over the world have been raving over the beauty and significance of all sorts of details in the film.  So, we're taking a look at 6 features of Wakanda's technology, fashion, nature, culture and diplomacy that you can actually experience in real life. Check out our top Travel Destinations for 2018 Find things to do on our Halal Travel Blog   1.      Ride a Maglev train Picture Credit - Tim Adams, flickr.com Agent Ross: These...these train things, that’s magnetic levitation, right?Shuri: Obviously!Agent Ross: Obviously? I’ve never seen it this...efficient.  The light panels, what are they?Shuri: Sonic stabilisersAgent Ross: Sonic what?Shuri: In its raw form, Vibranium is too dangerous to be transported at that speed, so I developed a way to temporarily deactivate it.Agent Ross: There’s Vibranium on those trains?Shuri:  There’s Vibranium all around us. That’s how I healed you. via GIPHY While we may not have Vibranium, Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) trains actually exist in real life!  There are only three countries in the world right now that have them: China, South Korea and Japan, and while they don’t have sonic stabilisers to temporarily disable raw Vibranium at high speeds, these trains can move pretty fast!  Maglev trains average over 300km/h, and have clocked in maximum speeds of above 500km/h.  Some trains, like the ones in China, also have an LED signboard to tell you how fast they’re going, so it could be an Instagram-worthy moment to capture if you ever find yourself in the Far East. Picture credit - Bernt Rostad, flickr.com Right now, the Maglev trains in South Korea and China are relatively new compared to Japan’s, so they might be better for those who just want to experience a shorter ride, exploring the attractions around Shanghai or Incheon.  China’s Shanghai Maglev train can take you from Pudong International Airport to Longyang Road Station, while South Korea’s Ecobee can take you from Incheon International Airport to Yongyu, 6 stops away. Find Attractions near you in Shanghai, China Find Attractions near you in South Korea For those who crave longer journeys, you can get yourself a Japan Rail Pass to get train tickets at discounted rates. The Shinkasen, Japan’s Maglev, runs through pretty much the whole country, so you’d be able to visit Mount Fuji in Shizuoka, go shopping in Kagoshima and relax at an Onsen in Semboku City, even if you were travelling for just a few days. Picture Credit - www.nippon.com   In the works: The Hyperloop Vactrain Picture Credit - Reuters Dubai is upping the tech ante by working with Elon Musk to build the Hyperloop, its own Vactrain; a Maglev train that operates within a vacuum tunnel. Without any air resistance, it can reach speeds of up to 1200km/h (theoretically!)  A prototype is slated for completion by 2020, the route connecting Dubai to Abu Dhabi.  Right now, it takes slightly over 1 hour 30 minutes by car, and 1 hour 40 minutes by metro.  With the Hyperloop, the estimated travel time is an incredible 12 minutes, which would be great for locals and tourists alike, so there'll be much more opportunities to explore both Abu Dhabi and Dubai!   2.      Remotely pilot a drone (and ride self-driving vehicles) Picture Credit - trailers.apple.com In Black Panther, we see Shuri remotely driving a car while T’Challa battles the baddies, and Agent Ross pilots a Wakandan aircraft remotely from Shuri’s lab. While we’re still some way from remote-piloted cars being commercially available, you can content yourself with remote-piloting a remote control (RC) drone with a camera.   As for riding a vehicle without actually driving it, the closest thing we have right now are probably self-driving vehicles, like the electric pods in London, at the London Heathrow Airport: Picture Credit - wtsinternational.org You can also grab a ride on a driverless shuttle around Gardens by the Bay, if you’re in Singapore: Picture Credit - straitstimes.com If being on the ground isn’t exciting enough for you, you can place your hopes in Dubai, where they've pilot-tested self-flying taxis to be rolled out some time in 2021: Picture credit - gulfnews.com   3.      Promote distinct, modest fashion Picture Credit - Still from © Marvel Studios' Black Panther Black Panther featured an ethnically inspired fashion from all over Africa, which is great for its unique, colourful and fresh perspective it gave the fashion industry.  In Indonesia, some have commented on how life imitates art... Picture Credit - Rima Wahyuningrum, Kompas.com ...and how art imitates life: Picture Credit - tribunstyle.com Besides ethnically inspired African fashion, Modest fashion also happens to be facing a similar trend in rising interest as a distinct philosophy and design attitude. More and more big names in fashion have been releasing modest fashion lines in their endeavours to capture a slice of the Muslim market, the most recent one being Macy’s.  Stylist.co.uk's Ramona Aly reports that, “according to a recent report from Thomson Reuters and Dinar Standard globally, Muslims spent £185 billion on clothing and footwear in 2013. That tops the total fashion spend of Japan and Italy combined.” With so much potential from the Muslim travel and fashion markets, dignified beautification is, in sha Allah, fast becoming the next big thing in the fashion world. Here’s some ethnically inspired modest fashion designs: Picture Credit - @hijabstyleicon, Instagram Picture Credit - @YazTheSpaz89, Pinterest   4. Stunning Natural Locations Picture Credit - Still from trailer, © Marvel Studio's Black Panther Black Panther sure had a lot of impressive filming locations, and what better way to destress than to leave the hustle and bustle of the city, watch the sunset with a loved one, or gaze at the stars?  Here, we look at four of the stunning natural scenes in this section: the ancestral plains, the mountains and the waterfalls.   Savannah Grasslands Sunsets When T’Challa is sent to the ancestral plane to meet his father, we see them set in a beautiful Savanna Grassland. For us at least, it's a good thing we don't have to go to the ancestral plane to experience this, in Africa!    Mountain sunsets Picture Credit - Still from © Marvel Studios' Black Panther   Having bested Killmonger, we see T’Challa honour Kilmonger’s final request to see the Wakandan sun, set behind the mountains.  Those mountains may have been in Wakanda, but if it’s just mountains you’re looking for, any mountain will do, right?   The beauty and majesty of these natural formations never fail to inspire awe in their visitors, and the best part is, there are literally hundreds of mountains out there in every continent of the world.   View from the top of Jerangkang waterfall, Pahang, Malaysia: Picture Credit - mohdfaizaladha, Instagram   Find a majestic mountain near you Waterfalls (with lakes at the bottom) Picture Credit - Still from © Marvel Studios' Black Panther The landscape shots for the river district, where the proving rituals were done, was filmed in Iguazu Falls, Argentina (the close-up scenes were filmed in a studio set), but with so many waterfalls in the world, there’s something for everyone, no matter where you are. Victoria Falls, Zambia-Zimbabwe border Niagria Falls, Canada Plitvice Falls, Croatia Picture Credit - croatiaweek.com Dua Warna Falls, Sibolangit, Sumatera Utara, Indonesia Picture Credit - Ariana Photography, wowshack.com Sri Gethuk Falls, Menggoran Beleberan Village, Playen, Yogyakarta, Indonesia Picture Credit - Soga Soegierto, wowshack.com Find a wondrous waterfall near you 5. Learn a Foreign Language Picture Credit - Still from © Marvel Studios' Black Panther In the film, we see the Wakandans speaking English and Xhosa, (and Nakia apparently speaks Korean, too!)  Learning to become a specialist in one or more languages might open your doors to more exciting opportunities, and in today’s fast-changing world, who knows how knowing a foreign language could come in handy?   You can try taking up diplomatic work like Nakia does, or do business in new and emerging markets around the world.   Also, you may not necessarily have to learn a new language to understand one, and be understood.  The Google Translate app lets you use your camera for instant text translation: Picture Credit - Google LLC, play.google.com Google's other translation product, the Google Pixel Earbuds, can translate 40 spoken languages for you on the go.  Paired with the Google Assistant, you can even ask it for directions to nearby amenities, making the wireless earbuds a potential, worthy travel companion to consider.  Note that an Assistant-enabled Android device and a data connection is required for these features, though.     Picture Credit - store.google.com   6. Build Bridges! Picture Credit - Still from © Marvel Studio's Black Panther “We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.” - T'Challa T’Challa’s  message to build bridges strongly resonates with the Muslim experience of the war on terror and Islamophobia.  The constant reinforcement of terrorism and “Islamic” radicalisation in the media means that Muslims have to reach out to their neighbours, now more than ever, to promote peace and mutual understanding between peoples from all walks of life, no matter where they are in the world. Hence, here are four initiatives that one can get involved in to build bridges.   The Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies The Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies is an annual forum to address and diminish and hatred and clarify Islam’s position as a religion of peace and justice.  The forum was responsible for convening the Marrakesh Declaration on the Rights of Religious Minorities together with the Moroccan government in Marrakesh, Morocco. UN Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) The United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) mentions in their Vision Statement that they work “toward a more peaceful, more socially inclusive world, by building mutual respect among peoples of different cultural and religious identities, and highlighting the will of the world’s majority to reject extremism and embrace diversity.”  The Organisation hosts and sponsors an entire spectrum of initiatives to this end.   Study Peace Studies Picture Credit - Best Goods on Sale, aliexpress.com Yes, you can actually become a scholar in peace studies!  Peace studies programmes tend to be at the postgraduate level, so you won't have to worry if you've already got a degree in any field. In any case, what better way is there to prepare for the role of promoting peace, than by actually spending some time to study it? There are peace studies programmes found in literally every continent, so if you’re considering a career in diplomacy, scholarship or a career in an NGO, this might be a very possible path to pursue to build bridges. Promote Inter-faith Relations Picture Credit - Harmony Centre @ An-Nahdhah Mosque, Singapore | Facebook It might seem counter-intuitive for the adherent of one religion to study another religion, but according to Dr Marianne Moyaert, a professor at VU University Amsterdam, interfaith experiences can lead a person to become more committed to their own tradition, because understanding the other requires understanding the self.  The process can cause individuals to become more rooted and more vast in their understanding as they encounter the depth and breadth of the landscape of human spirituality. Enjoining good neighbourly relations with the members of other communities also helps raise awareness about the true, upright character of Islam and dispels any misgivings that non-Muslims may have.   Wakanda's Spirit lives on... Picture Credit - redbubble.com Wakanda may not exist in real life, but if the film was inspired by real people, real places, real ideas and real practices, at least we know that the spirit of Wakanda is out there, and not just in Africa! So get up and get going, because Wakanda awaits! Check out our top travel destinations for 2018 Find things to do on our Halal travel blog...

  • Top 7 Things To Do In New York

    Ah…New York, it has been romanticised in both song and film, the city that never sleeps. Being a rendezvous point for different cultures, religions and cuisines, this city a must visit for any travel junkie as this it has something for everyone, may it be the arts, fashion, food or history – New York has got it all! A wanderer’s paradise, the city is best experienced on foot and getting from one location to the other is not as difficult as long as you follow a map. New York is a riot of sound and colour, the city is all about its people and the stories that they have etched throughout history and now. It is the most populous state in the whole U.S. with 200 something nationalities congregating in one place. New York may be quite overwhelming and you’ll be thinking – where to start? What to do? Don’t worry, we have managed to summarise 7 things that you can do when visiting this bustling urban metropolis. Locate mosques and prayer places near you in New York Follow the airport guide to JFK 1. Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island Starting off with the most iconic landmark of New York – the Statue of Liberty. The bronze colossus was a gift from the French people to the Americans, designed by Frédéric Auguste Batholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel. It is an icon of freedom and the United States, the robed woman holding a torch represents Libertas, a Roman Goddess of Freedom. You can take a ferry ride to Liberty Island to witness the grandeur of Liberty Enlightening the World (Statue of Liberty); the basic ferry ticket offers you access to the grounds as well as guided tours. To get access to the Liberty Crown’s breathtaking views of the city and harbour, you should book your tickets online 6 months prior to visiting. If you are unable to obtain crown tickets do not worry, the pedestal tickets offer equally great views. Visit the best attractions in New York 2. The High Line Some of New York’s best attractions are within the Manhattan borough. Home to Central Park, Times Square and Broadway – its more famous attraction, the High Line stands out in a more unique way. This green space was once a grimy little rail line that went through an unpleasant district of slaughterhouses; however, it has undergone a modern day urban renewal to become one of New York’s best loved spots. You can go for a leisurely stroll or have a relaxed picnic 30ft above the city – with stunning views of the ever-changing urban landscape of Manhattan. The park boasts of patches of grass with seasonal blossoms as well as public art installations that can be enjoyed in an open space. The stunning views of the Hudson river and bleacher-like seating behind huge glass panes frame the traffic and pedestrians below like living works of art. You can find food and drink vendors to get refreshments along the way – if you are a little tired after all that walking. The Whitney Museum is located on the southern end of the High Line, that showcases work by living artists and is worth a visit. The High Line is the best place to go for a romantic stroll at night and watch the city lit up all around. 3. Coney Island A 50-minute subway ride from the glitz and glamour of Manhattan to this old-school amusement district, Coney Island has a lot of nostalgic kitsch charm and excitement to offer. It is the perfect one- day getaway for kids and adults alike. Famed for its wood-plank boardwalk, Cyclone roller coaster and the New York aquarium, Coney Island will not bore you. A wonderland of activities, Coney Island traces its amusement park roots to the 1800s. Some of the old rides are still available today like the Wonder Wheel that was first opened in 1920, this includes the Cyclone roller coaster which has been there since 1927. Coney Island is a must visit in any New York City itinerary, so don’t miss out on all the fun this place has to offer! Explore New York 4. American Museum of Natural History Founded in 1869, this grand museum houses 30 million artefacts as well as the Rose Center for Earth and Space. From October through May, the museum plays host to 500 plus butterflies from all over the world! You can enter the glasshouse conservatory to watch the butterflies flutter about and land on your outstretched arm. The most famous inhabitants of the museum are the skeletons of the giant woolly mammoth and the scary Tyrannosaurus rex. The fossil halls have 600 species on display, there are many other animal exhibits along with galleries dedicated to gems and minerals, as well as an IMAX theatre. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the 94ft replica of a Blue Whale that hangs from the ceiling of the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. The Rose Center for Earth and Space is home to a planetarium and other exhibits and shows. Enter the Cosmic Pathway which covers the 13-billion-year history of the universe along a spiraling path that is as long as a football field. You can also go for the Dark Universe show that is narrated by the famous astrophysicist Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson, who is also the director of the Rose Center.For general admission, you can pay any amount you wish for (it is run on charity basis). However, for space shows, IMAX films, or ticketed exhibits you’ll have to pay admission fees plus the amount for one show, or admission fees plus all shows. Plan a tour to New York 5. Guggenheim Museum This conical white architectural structure, famous for its appearance than its contents is a classic New York icon. Designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the inverted ziggurat was completed in 1959 to mixed reviews, and has appeared in many postcards, TV shows and films throughout the years. The museum houses artwork by Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Kadinsky, as well as paintings by Monet, Van Gogh and Degas – and photography by Robert Mapplethorpe. The museum has opened up branches in Bilbao, Venice and Abu Dhabi. The museum has two restaurants, the Wright at ground level and Cafe 3 on the 3rd floor that offers amazing views of Central Park. Be sure to step into the original Guggenheim museum when in New York. Explore New York City 6. Times Square Times Square is the image you see in your head when you think of New York. This busy intersection bathed in neon lights, people scurrying about and the yellow cabs, skyscrapers, digital billboards is what defines this concrete jungle. It’s all about the sights and sounds, and 50 million people visit it every year. This is where the real essence of the Big Apple lies! The main junction is full of popular retail outlets and restaurants; you can climb the red Times Square steps to get a broad view of the area, and get a picture taken with any of the costumed characters that roam about. Listen to street musicians and enjoy food sold from street vendors. Finding Halal food will not be a difficult, just use your phone to search for places or ask about. New Year’s Eve and Christmas are great times to be at Times Square, however the areas will be very crowded – but the experience will be worth it. Locate Halal food in New York 7. Chinatown A trip to New York is not complete without heading over to Chinatown – Manhattan’s most colourful neighbourhood, where every visit is a different experience. Strange little shops and countless restaurants line the streets and alleyways, with mysterious temples tucked away in this labyrinthine borough. Chinatown is home to the biggest population of Chinese immigrants in the U.S. This is the place to be if you are looking for cheap authentic Chinese food – there are many dim sum places and noodle shops. Bargaining is the game here, so be sure to get a good deal when shopping for souvenirs or other trinkets. While in Chinatown, pay a visit to Little Italy as well – its close by Mulberry Street right next to Motts Street. A clear example of two contrasting cultures existing in one place. Amazing places to shop in New York New York is a diverse place that has a lot to offer, and should be on every traveler’s list. New York has its own brand of charm, whilst time moves faster in Times Square, time may move slower while taking a stroll through High Line; it’s a city of many contrasts coexisting in one place. So get ready for that New York trip and keep your Instagram feeds updated! Plan your next Halal tour to New York and explore the Big Apple! Find mosques and prayer places near you in New York City at your fingertips with the HalalTrip App....