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  • Travel News Wrap: 21 September Week

    Saudi Arabia Reopens for Umrah Image Credit: Photo by Sulthan Auliya on Unsplash The most exciting news of the week came from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has announced that it will be reopening for Umrah. The reopening will be done in phases with the first phase only being for residents and citizens of the Kingdom. While international travelers will be allowed in from November onwards. The decision to reopen came after Saudi Arabia held the smallest Hajj ever recorded in modern history with only 10,000 pilgrims. Furthermore, in order to assure a safer environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a companion app will be launched along with the reopening. The app will be used to regulate the flow and visitor numbers of the holy and historic sites that pilgrims will visit during their Umrah. The first phase will commence on 4 October this year. Only Citizens and Residents are allowed to perform Umrah in the first phase. The second phase will commence on 18 October, where the number of pilgrims allowed will be increased to 15,000 pilgrims from inside the country. While the third phase will commence on 1 November this year, this phase will allow for 20,000 pilgrims and will be open to international travelers as well. Read more on the reopening in our blog “Saudi Arabia Planning to Reopen for Umrah”.   Airbus’s Zero Carbon Airplane Image Credit: Airbus Earlier this week, Airbus has revealed 3 new concepts of airplanes that they plan to add to the fleet by 2035. What makes these concepts interesting is that they will be the world's first zero-emissions commercial aircraft. Thanks to the development of Hydrogen as an alternative fuel, Airbus is aiming to introduce this technology into the aerospace industry.  The designs include a turboprop fan which is a propellor powered plane and the "blended-wing body" reminiscent of the flying-wing aircraft designs. In order to support Hydrogen technology in commercial flights, airports will be required to implement adequate support such as hydrogen transport and refueling infrastructure. This is a major step in the future of the travel and aerospace industry as it is a viable solution to the problem that has plagued the industries, Carbon Emissions in travel. Before the release of the concepts, the method chosen by the airlines is usually carbon offset programs. This method involves airlines to initiate activities which cancel off the carbon produced in flights. Such activities include planting/replanting trees.   Business Travel Pass Pilot Image Credit: Photo by Shawn Ang on Unsplash Another development in the travel landscape is the news that a new business travel pass is being piloted for senior executives who travel regularly for official and business purposes. The pilot program is currently in effect in Singapore. Travelers in this program will be required to follow a strictly controlled itinerary when they are abroad. When returning, travelers will be given a choice of taking a COVID-19 test in lieu of serving a stay-home notice or to self-isolate until the results are out. Currently, the number of passes is strictly limited in this starting phase for the ministry to monitor the outcome of the pilot program. The program will not be country-specific and will allow travelers to visit a range of countries.  However, travel restrictions and measures of the country of visit still apply. Please refer to the authorities for more information on this program.   Lufthansa COVID-19 Testing Image Credit: Photo by Nick Herasimenka on Unsplash According to multiple news reports, Deutsche Lufthansa AG plans on making rapid COVID-19 antigen tests available for their passengers starting in October. This is in line with the global requirement of travel in this pandemic where travelers will have to show proof of negative COVID-19 test results when traveling.   Due to its limited supply, the new tests will initially be available to its first-class and business class passengers....

  • Saudi Arabia Planning to Reopen for Umrah

    COVID-19 has brought on a lot of changes in recent times and for once, there is some good news! The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) has reported that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has decided to reopen for Umrah again. An activity that was suspended ever since March, earlier this year. During the recent Hajj period, KSA held the smallest Hajj ever in modern times with only 10,000 citizens taking part in this year’s Hajj amid the pandemic. With this new development, visiting Makkah and Medina looks to be quite possible this year.   Reopening in Phases Image Credit: Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash The reopening will be done in phases which is most probably due to the added safety measures in place. The first phase of the reopening will only be open to the residents and citizens of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The number of Umrah pilgrims allowed for one day is limited to 6,000 citizens and residents. The pilgrims will be able to visit the Two Holy Mosques Masjid Al-Haram and Masjid Nabawi) along with other historic religious sites in the country. This phase will start on 4 October this year. When the second phase starts, the daily capacity will be increased to about 15,000 pilgrims or 75% of the revised capacity of 20,000. This phase is set to start on 18 October this year. Finally, the third phase will welcome more people to the country for Umrah. With the numbers being bumped up to 20,000 pilgrims, this will be the biggest number of participants the mosques will have since the outbreak of COVID-19. A major change in this phase is that it will be open to visitors from overseas as well. For the safety of the pilgrims and their citizens, Saudi Arabia will be limiting this option to include only countries that they deem to be safe for Umrah. Currently, at the time of writing, the list of countries has yet to be published. The Third Phase is set to start from 1 November this year. Moving forward, the Saudi government has stated that the country will allow the “natural capacity” for Umrah once the pandemic is over. This is presumably done in order to control the number of visitors to minimize the risk of any COVID-19 from spreading in the country, leaving a detrimental effect on the healthcare and economic systems.   Current COVID-19 Situation Image Credit: Photo by Sulthan Auliya on Unsplash This decision to reopen their borders might have been influenced by the fact that there were no reported cases of COVID-19 during the Hajj period. Currently, the kingdom has recorded over 330,000 cases of COVID-19 to date but on the other hand, they also have a high rate of recoveries for the virus. Insha Allah, it will be safe for pilgrims to carry out and fulfill their Umrah amid the global pandemic.   Safety measures Image Credit: Photo by said alamri on Unsplash Some takeaways from holding Hajj this year might be that they have learned and built upon the safety measures in place in order to control the outbreak in activities that involve a large number of people. The safety measures for Umrah will most probably be similar to the ones that were enforced during Hajj. Visitors will be subject to temperature checks and will be placed under mandatory quarantine after the ritual has been completed. In addition to those measures, social distancing was also emphasized during Hajj with people praying one meter apart during congregational prayers. Please refer to the official authorities for more details and updates on the safety requirements.   I’tamarna Official App Image Credit: Photo by ali guddam on Unsplash Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s government has launched a new initiative in the form of a phone app that will be extensively used by pilgrims during their Umrah. The app called “l’tamarna” which will be available from 27 September onwards, will regulate the flow and number of visitors at the Haramayn. Using the app, visitors can also plan their activities, visits, and pilgrimage in advance. Allowing them to route and schedule their plans even before going down to the site. Other features of the app include reservations of optional services and ensuring the compliance of health and precautionary measures that the visitors will need to follow.  This news of the reopening came after last week’s news that the country partially lifted its suspension on international flights. Following the trend of the improving COVID-19 situation in Saudi Arabia, who knows maybe in the near future, more and more Muslims can visit Makkah and Medina again. Isha Allah! ...

  • Muslimah-Friendly Fitness Studios & Gyms in Singapore

    An active body is a healthy body. Keeping fit has never been as important as it is now. With the ongoing pandemic, one of the best defenses we can put up is by building up our immune system through exercise. Don’t know about you but all that staying indoors during the Circuit Breaker (and staycations)  is making us feel a little sluggish. And if you’re worried and conscious about onlookers watching you while you exercise, don’t worry! These are some Muslimah-Friendly fitness places you can go to keep fit and stay healthy with peace of mind. Some of these classes are even conducted online!   Her Tribe Image Credit: ClassPass Her Tribe is one entry that is known for being hijab friendly. With classes ranging from Ariel Yoga to Barre sessions, they offer a range of holistic fitness classes that can help you find your balance after a long day at work. If you are just starting to dip your feet into the fitness scene, these classes will be great for you as they cater to beginners as well! You can pick and choose which of their sessions strike your fancy over at ClassPass. Join their Bbarreless session if you’re looking to lose that extra pounds. Location: 329A Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427586 Website | Instagram | Facebook | ClassPass   Activ.co Image Credit: ClassPass If you’re more inclined to the traditional gym setting then Activ.co might be the one you’re looking for. A female-only fitness studio, they hold Circuit and Strength Training will surely be a HIIT! Join their STRONG sessions if you’re planning to beat your PB (Personal Best) or if you’re working towards that toned figure, join their REFORMER classes. Their sessions are a great way to start getting familiar with the gym equipment as all their classes are beginner-friendly! A great thing about Activ.co is that they also offer in-house personal classes for bookings. These range from Personal Training sessions, Buddy Training, or Mobility Sessions (Sports massage is a must-try, not even joking). You can browse through their classes and schedule them at their website or ClassPass. Location: 2 Gambas Crescent, Singapore 757044 Website | Instagram | Facebook | ClassPass   The Eaqlia Studio Image Credit: classpass Under the same management as Aida Fitness, Eaqlia caters to the folks up north. Eaqlia or Mind in Arabic is a fitness studio which focuses not only on the physical but also the mental part of wellness. Other than the physical fitness classes offered like Yoga, Zumba, HIIT, and even Shadow Boxing, The Eaqlia studio encourages the other aspects of wellness like eating habits and mental health. Classes vary in difficulty, this is great news as increasing the intensity of your workout really helps in developing your fitness level. If you’re more comfortable with the idea of staying indoors, Eaqlia studio also offers online virtual classes with VIRTUAL EAQLIA where you will get to join their live workouts running in their studios from the comfort and privacy of your home. Location: 102 Yishun Avenue 5, #04-119, Singapore 760102 Website | Instagram | Facebook | ClassPass   Aida Fitness Image Credit: classpass Previously known as E-tribe, Aida Fitness is a branch of The Eaqlia Studio that offers similar classes but for the east-siders. So you can expect similar classes with The Eaqlia Studio. Just don’t be tempted by the food available nearly (Geylang Serai is soo close-by) Location: Centropod, 80 Changi Road, #01-02, Singapore 419715 Website | Instagram | Facebook | ClassPass   Contours Express Image Credit: Contours Express A fitness boutique, Contours Express not only brings you the privacy from being a female-only place but it also purposefully convenient with all their boutiques located in the housing areas of Singapore. There might even be one near your house! The offerings from them are similar to large gym franchises but without the budget pinch. Making the gym accessible to women of all backgrounds. Follow their bespoke weight-loss program, where they go through the details and advice you on your nutrition and exercise, or join their many group or training classes. There is something for everyone! If you’re looking for a traditional gym setting then Contours Express is really in with a good shout. Location: Bedok, Bishan, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong East, Pasir Ris, Serangoon, Tampines, Woodlands, Yishun (Check out their website for more details) Website | Instagram | Facebook   Nawal Haddad Fitness Image Credit: Nawal Haddad Fitness Currently hosting their classes exclusively online, Nawal Haddad Fitness offers virtual fitness classes where you can just sweat it out at home. Get ready to move a lot though, as some of the classes they offer will require you to dance and box around the house! Who said exercising can’t be fun? If that’s not your tempo, build up your core muscles and flexibility with their Hatha Yoga classes. An interesting program that they’re offering is Fatburn Extreme, a group fitness training dedicated to weight loss exercising. Using bodyweight exercises, this method is a tried and tested way for losing that extra CB/staycation weight. In addition to just losing weight, it will help you build on your endurance as well! If you’re interested in learning more about this form of exercise, look up “calisthenics” on google or youtube to get an idea of what to expect when you join this program. Location: Online Website | Instagram | Facebook   There are a lot of benefits to exercising (we can’t list them here because there’ll be a lot!) and it has become more and more important these days with us staying indoors and working from home a lot more than before. Keeping fit is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Breaking out of the sedentary lifestyle and start your journey in fitness can be daunting but it will definitely be a very fruitful experience. Insha Allah!...

  • 12 Best Reusable Masks in Singapore

    Gone were the days when we only donned the mask during the haze period. We are currently living in a new normal where wearing a mask is mandatory when you are leaving the house. Unlike the beginning of the global pandemic breakout, we can see boxes of surgical masks available in any store everywhere. If you are one who prefers reusable masks like me, the options in the market are vasts. Not only are they inexpensive, but they come in various designs and colors, becoming fashion wear for us. Personally, for me, reusable masks are much more comfortable to wear for a longer time. But what's more important, they are kinder to the environment and helps you reduce waste. If you are keen to try on some reusable masks, let us list down the best reusable masks that you can find in the local market.   1. Pomelo Image Credit: Pomelo If you are an avid online shopper, especially when it comes to clothing, you must be familiar with Pomelo. This fashion brand has different kinds of masks available, but the one I will be highlighting is the People+ series. They are designed with triple defense layers, which is suitable to keep you protected during this period. Fret not if you have sensitive skin as the inner layer of the mask is made from 100% cosmetic grade silk cotton. Various designs, ranging from florals and abstracts are made available.Price: $14.00, Free Delivery available on online orders.Website   2. Bewa Image Credit: Bewa Bewa is known for its Muslimah fashion from Baju Kurung to Baju Jubah. Bewa has also ventured out into designing its own reusable masks. Its designs and patterns don't only focus on floral but also Batik and lace. You may choose materials from cotton to satin, whichever you feel comfortable in. Not only are the masks beautiful and unique, but most of them also contained an anti-microbial filter to keep you protected. For those who are wearing Hijab, you should definitely check Bewa out as some of the masks are designed with head ties instead of earloop.Price: Starting from $15.00; Delivery charges starting from $3.80Location: Joo Chiat Complex, #03-1041/1043Website   3. ShieldMask+ Image Credit: ShieldMask+ ShieldMask+ is known for its high-quality masks. It is designed with 4 layers of protection and an adjustable strap to fit you perfectly. The simple designs make it suitable for both males and females. You can also protect the little ones as they have specially fitted masks for kids.Price: Starting from $18.00; Delivery charges starting from $5Website   4. Zalora Image Credit: Zalora Zalora must have been another popular online shopping site for you to source for apparel. You can find different kinds of clothing styles, the same goes for their reusable masks. Its ergonomic designs make it comfortable to wear. It contains a slit for filters that you can install it yourself to double the protection. Its solid colors are suitable for both males and females, or go for the pineapple design if you fancy!Price: Starting from $9.00Website   5. Ans-Ein Image Credit: Ans.ein The love for arts of two Singaporean mumpreneurs drove them to establish Ans-Ein, a wearable art. Each pattern on their apparel is unique, designed by various passionate artists. Similar to any other local labels here, Ans-Ein had added in the reusable masks as their line-ups. Their reusable masks are made with 3 layers of protection with an option to choose between the earloop strap or the head loop strap. You will be spoilt for choice to choose from the different designs available; solid colors, batik, or denim to name a few. You can also purchase their masks for a good cause as Ans-Ein has started on a project to distribute reusable masks to essential workers.Price: Starting from $5.00; Free normal deliveryWebsite   6. OliveAnkara Image Credit: OliveAnkara OliveAnkara patterns had been focused on African prints and fashions. The founder of OliveAnkara, Ifeoma, has introduced African inspired clothes here in Singapore and it can be beautifully donned on any woman. This same concept can be found on their reusable masks. Their pleated masks are available in kids' and adults' sizes. A pocket can be found on the reusable masks for you to fit in a surgical mask or filters for extra protection. Also, 10% of the proceeds will go to local charities!Price: Starting from $15.00; Free normal deliveryWebsite   7. Le Petit Society Image Credit: Le Petit Society You may have heard of Le Petit Society as they have a few outlets in the malls. Catering to clothing for children, their stylish yet comfortable collections are suitable for all. Their range of reusable masks doesn't only come in kids' sizes but also for adults. The double layers masks allow you to insert filter for extra protection. You can also request for names or initials embroidery at the bottom corner of the mask, adding a personal touch to it.Price: Starting from $10.00; Delivery charges at $5.50Website   8. MeowPrint Image Credit: meowprint.sg Have you ever wanted to customize your own reusable masks for your class or maybe for your company? MeowPrint is a company specialized in customizing fabrics like T-shirts and bags to name a few. Now, you can also customize your own reusable masks. From choosing the fabric colors to inserting logos, it is all made possible at MeowPrint. The price is attractive too for bulk orders, making it a perfect souvenir for your company.Price: Starting from $3.11 per pieceWebsite   9. Littleoddforest Image Credit: littleoddforest If you are into colorful, whimsical, and quirky designs, then Littleoddforest is for you. You can find animal-inspired designs like alpacas and even unicorns. Their reusable masks are not only designed for kids but adults likewise. These reusable masks are made up of 3 layers of fabric with pockets for you to insert your own filter. The best thing about the masks is the open-ended elastic bands, where you can adjust them according to your face size. If that sounds like a hassle to you, you can opt to add the rubber stopper at the end.Price: Starting from $22.90 for kids, $24.90 for adults; Free local deliveryWebsite   10. Uniqlo Image Credit: Uniqlo AIRism Uniqlo has no doubt been providing us with comfortable and stylish apparel for every occasion. As with any other brand label, Uniqlo has also produced their own lines of reusable masks. When it was first released officially in Japan, we had been wondering if we will be able to get our hands on them. The AIRism face mask is designed with a 3-tier structure, giving you comfort while getting you protected. Comes in a pack of 3, you can find them in most Uniqlo outlets or even purchase them online.Price: $14.90 for a pack of 3.Website   11. 1929Mask Image Credit: 1929Mask 1929Mask is known for its high quality, effective yet comfortable reusable masks. A Singaporean family has created a 3-ply reusable mask that is water-repellent and provides maximum protection. Its patterns are suitable for both males and females. For our Hijab sisters, don't forget to add in the mask extender to your cart when purchasing a mask here!Price: From $25.00; Free local deliveryWebsite   12. CYC Made to Measure Image Credit: CYC Corporate Label One of the most renowned tailors in Singapore, CYC Made to Measure has expanded its apparel lines to reusable masks. Its unique prints ranged from Singapore icons to solid colors and even Liberty London prints. All of the masks purchased come with a hydrophobic filter. They have all sizes available too, for both kids and adults. You can visit its two stores or order them online.Price: From $20.00; Free local shippingWebsite There you have it, the best reusable masks you can find in Singapore. You can always add some colors and prints to your everyday look while donning a face mask. It will also keep you protected during this pandemic period. Don't forget to also keep your distance when you are outside to help curb the outbreak. Stay safe!...

  • Community Heroes: Food Sharing Indonesia

    After Friday's fajr, Dian Ayu Antika Hapsari and Shella Sabillah Alamri did not waste any time to welcome the day. They brought dozen of meal packages and drive around Malang City, East Java province. Bravely riding along on the back of a scooter to find the elderly and other people in need to distribute the meals to them. They never take the same route twice meaning that they often distribute the meals to different people every time. Let me introduce you to Malang City's very own community heroes. Dian Ayu Antika Hapsari, usually going by the name Tika - a civil servant, and her close friend, Shella Sabillah Alamri known as Shella. The two friends decided to set up a humanitarian movement together, to help others amid the ongoing pandemic. Tika told HalalTrip in a video call interview that the pandemic has disadvantaged everyone in the city including the elderly who are still working in order to support themselves. Yet, since the city implemented large-scale social restrictions, the elderly who are working as rickshaw drivers, scavengers, cracker sellers, and many more, are facing difficulties since most Indonesians are staying at home. That was when Tika and Shella decided to establish Food Sharing Indonesia (@foodsharing.indonesia) on 7th August 2020. This movement has two main activities which are Food Touring and Food Visiting. Their first meal distribution was on 14 August where they aim to run this activity around 6.30 am and after Friday prayers. Tika and Shella believed that the early hours of the morning is the perfect time to meet the working elderly. If the meal distribution is started later than 7.00 AM, they would have missed the working elderly as they would have already gone to work. "It is called Food Touring," Shella said. While, Tika said that they also conduct Food Visiting which they distribute meals, goods, and funds to the orphanages, Islamic boarding schools, and Quran hafidz. Their donors expect them to distribute donations to certain groups of people. "We need to deliver people's trust very well," Tika said. Food Sharing Indonesia conducts Food Visiting once a month. They intend to continue this movement even after the pandemic is over. Shella reminded HalalTrip that the poor, the orphanages, and the needy will sadly remain even after the pandemic ends. On Friday, 18 September 2020, Tika and Shella managed to distribute 210 packaged meals to their target meal receivers. They also cooperated with Yayasan Galeri Kreatif, Pedal Kuliner, and Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) in their community movement. Tika and Shella often send a report to the donors as part of their accountability to manage donations, dedicated to being transparent with the donation funds and allocation. Active on social media, they regularly update their donors and followers on the Food Sharing Indonesia's activities and where their donations are going to. Currently, Food Sharing Indonesia is open to donations from anyone. Furthermore, Food Sharing Indonesia has even received support from people outside of Indonesia, thanks to their great networking. Some examples are Shella's colleagues who are living in Australia are also interested in donating to their movement. Tika's colleague, a Libyan citizen who studies in Malang is also intrigued to contribute to the movement.    Meaningful Experience Surely, Tika and Shella have met with lots of meals receiver with many different characters. Undoubtedly, most of these meal receivers are so happy to receive the meals before they start work. These people are very thankful to Food Sharing Indonesia who with their pure hearts, travel around the city to find those in need.  "They pray for us, right in front of our eyes," Tika told Halaltrip. Moreover, Shella also feels so moved when people eat their packed meals right after receiving them.    Obstacles As this food distribution needs more manpower to do so, Shella and Tika feel that they should seek for help from volunteers. Even if they can manage their careers and this food drive movement, more people are needed for the movement to grow, allowing them to reach out and help even more people. Shella said that they often announce that they’re open to volunteers to help them in their cause, yet the result has not been so significant. Also, she even distributed offline fliers to everyone she knew to introduce them to the Food Sharing Indonesia movement. Unfazed and determined, she continues her effort to gather more volunteers through her personal and Food Sharing Indonesia's Instagram account to gain more public attention. Meanwhile, Tika told HalalTrip that Food Sharing Indonesia is planning to open an official bank account for the movement to store the donation funds. This measure will be taken as their solution to avoid the mix up between the movement’s donations and their funds. Currently, Food Sharing Indonesia is still using Shella's bank account and requires the donor to let her know through WhatsApp after transfer some funds.   Future Goals Tika expressed her future goals for Food Sharing Indonesia on being established as a non-profit foundation, to which Shella also agreed upon. She believes that if this movement can manage the donations more professionally and also be able to expand their reach to help a broader range of receivers, then the establishment will be made. Both Tika and Shella intend to give soft and life skills training to the poor. Moreover, they plan to lend some of the donation funds, of course with the donors’ consent, to the poor so that it will be used as their capital to open their own business in hopes of improving their quality of life.  "We want to provide the tools, not only feed them," Tika and Shella told HalalTrip. Food Sharing Indonesia plans to work with some communities like orphanages, the less-privileged, and widows – as long as they are feasible to receive some help or donations. Tika and Shella will do skill assessment tests for those communities to figure out the skills that they need to get them back on their feet. Skills such as cooking and digital marketing are just some of the prospective skills they intend to help with. This pandemic has tested our empathy as human beings to show our kindness to the people in need. Tika and Shella can gain people’s trust in gathering and distributing donations, packed meals to the right people. Setting an example to us with their actions that we too can help those around us, especially during these trying times. We need to strive collectively against this pandemic.  This too shall pass!  Follow their journey on Instagram at @foodsharing.indonesia   Know any similar inspirational community heroes around you? Comment down below or simply write in to us at info@halaltrip.com.  We would love to hear their stories!   Photos credit belong to Dian Ayu Antika Hapsari, Shella Sabillah Alamri, and Food Sharing Indonesia....



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