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  • 10 Middle Eastern Dishes Everyone Should Try At Least Once

    Traveling to the Middle East can be for one of the two main reasons; to live amongst a forest of skyscrapers in a sea of desert sand or to devour the uncountable delectable local dishes that have made the Middle Eastern cuisine a go-to for comfort meals to be shared with loved ones on any occasion. Locate the best Arabic restaurants during your stay and enjoy the wholesome, rich and freshly prepared meal at a reasonable price. What’s more special about this mouthwatering cuisine is that, by tradition, each portion served is enough for a family to feast on and to have the table decorated wholly with Middle Eastern salads and the obligatory mezze platter that comes with most dishes on their menu. Middle Eastern cuisine is the cherry on top of all Halal cuisines a diner could ask for. The best authentic Arabic and Middle Eastern dishes serve the perfect combination of flavors, colors and beyond a doubt fulfill the living dream of all foodies. Here is a list of the 10 Yummiest Arabic Dishes to fill your belly! (a list which was too difficult to cut short) 1) Hummus A creamy and smooth blend of mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Hummus is served as either a dip with the traditional pita bread and vegetables but also works its wonder when spread in a burger or even with a baked potato. Its flavor is combined with other Arabic dishes as a condiment. Hummus is more of a staple dish; this mouthwatering and healthy appetizer found in nearly all Middle Eastern restaurants is the best pick to start off your foody-ride. We definitely recommend the Abu Shukri restaurant in the Old City of Jerusalem. Foodie Tip! For the diners who are more experienced in attacking Middle Eastern dishes, ask to add in more garlic to get a taste of the true local tang. 2) Shawarma A ridiculously tasty bundle of goodness. The Arabic version of the Greek gyro with the exception of tender meat which is slow cooked on a turning spit preserving the juiciness and incorporating the rustic flavors of smokiness being the highlight in the Middle Eastern variant. This wrap of laffa/hot pita bread filled with smoky meat together with sauces, cream, veggies and the earthy authentic Arabic spices makes every bite of this Middle Eastern dish a delightful pleasure. One place that we've specially handpicked for you to try is the Hashipudia restaurant at 6 Ha-Shikma Street of Jerusalem. Foodie Tip! Shawarma is more commonly found made with either chicken or beef although the traditional option; lamb is a must try specialty. 3) Baba Ghanouj/ Ghanoush Found alongside the famous hummus on a mezze platter, Baba Ghanouj is often described as the best eggplant dish; a succulent eggplant dip and is a vegetarian favorite. Although spelled in countless ways, this dip delivers similar deliciousness all across the Middle East with a combination of flavors from roasted eggplant, garlic, Arabian spices and the famous sesame seed paste - Tahini. Like most dips, Baba Ghanouj is used as a condiment in Middle Eastern cuisine sharing its wholesome flavor with more dishes on the menu. We highly recommend trying out Zest at the One&Only The Palm in Dubai and give this Arabic goodness a shot! Foodie Tip! When ordering Baba Ghanouj, ask for it to be spiced up with chili for the real Arabic zing. 4) Halvah Picture Credit: www.myjewishlearning.com Much like the name suggests, in Arabic, Halvah means a sweet confection and is most likely the most popular Middle Eastern sweet. Halvah is much like a layered cake generally shaped like a cheese wheel. The main component of grain-based halvah is gluten like wheat, or semolina and are spongy in texture, while the main ingredient of nut-based halvah is tahini paste; sesame seeds and sugar. Although the unique flavor of plain halvah tastes just about excellent, it is often flavored with pistachio or chocolate. 5) Tabbouleh Tabbouleh, a cocktail of herbs; parsley, mint, bulgur (cracked wheat) and a handful of vegetables, onions and tomatoes, is the best appetizer not only for vegetarians but also for the health freak foodies who love to chomp but are calorie conscious. This Arabian salad is refreshing and bright, however, will leave some green stuck between your teeth so be cautious! If you happen to be in Jordan, hop by the Cairo Restaurant at the Al-Malek Talal Street in Amman, Jordan to try their Tabbouleh! Foodie Tip! To the meat lovers; this delicious salad has the ability to make you switch teams, so watch out for its yumminess. 6) Baklava Similar to the Greek baklava, this Middle Eastern sweet pronounced as baklawa is made with lots of love and layers of thin sheets of buttery filo dough filled with a mixture of coarsely ground nuts and Arabian spices; unlike the Greek that uses honey, this mixture is bound together with sugar syrup and either rose water or orange blossom. With honey drizzled on top, baklava is made in interesting shapes, for example in the shape of birds’ nests, cylinders and triangular are the more common option. Hop by the the Karakoy Gulluoglu at Rihtim Cad when you're in Istanbul to bring some of the best Baklavas home! Foodie Tip! Pistachio and walnut baklava are easiest to find, however, look out for the fruity version for an alternate experience that you’ll be glad you had. 7) Labneh Picture Credit: www.davidlebovitz.com This low in calories Middle Eastern alternative to traditional cream cheese is not too sour or strong in flavor and is easily made from cow’s milk. Labneh is a creamier, thicker and denser variant of the Greek yogurt and often found alongside hummus and tahini on the mezze platter. A great dip for za’atar pita bread, and even fruits; the versatile Labneh dip is the best to share the flavors of the Middle Eastern cuisine. Foodie Tip! Sprinkle the authentic Arabic spices on labneh to enjoy the more exciting version. 8) Falafel The globally recognized Middle Eastern dish, the falafel sandwich is much beloved and appreciated in the foodie empire. The traditional falafel sandwich is a gigantic pita bread wrapping of the falafel patty along with tangy pickles, fresh vegetables, and tahini spread. To best compliment, a falafel sandwich, order an Israeli salad to go with it. The falafel perfectly fills in for the protein on a vegetarian’s menu and paired with hummus on the obligatory mezze platter. The most interesting aspect of the savory doughnut is that the falafel patty has a crispy exterior when freshly fried contrasting to a soft and fluffy interior composed of ground chickpeas, onions and a decent amount of herbs and spices blended in to enhance the simplicity and flavor of the dish. Make a pit stop at the Books@Cafe located at the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Street #12 First Circle in Amman, Jordan to give their falafel a try! 9) Mansaf Picture Credit: taste.co.za Jordan’s national dish, Mansaf, is culturally meant for feasts and celebratory gatherings. Mansaf in Arabic literally translates to “large tray” and therefore is served as such; enough to cater to a small foodie nation. Chunks of lamb cooked in a broth of Jameed (a variety of cheese made from fermented yogurt), dressed with yummy yogurt and garnished with almond and pine nuts are on display placed on a heap of white rice served on an oversized platter of flatbread. Initially a Jordanian dish, Mansaf migrated to Palestine, Iraq and Saudi Arabia to mark its deliciousness. If you happen to be in Amman, Jordan, we recommend you the Jabri Restaurant at Wasfi Al-Tal Street. 10) Pita with za’atar Picture Credit: ovengoodies.wordpress.com The staple component of Middle Eastern cooking, the warm and versatile pita bread is served with nearly every meal. The specialty of za’atar pita is that the dough is generously sprinkled with a blend of Middle Eastern spices which include thyme, oregano, and marjoram to uplift the sensory experience of the flavorsome bread dipped in any appetizer off the mezze platter. The original za’atar plant that is rather endangered is protected by the government to preserve the rare and authentic Mediterranean flavor, however, the blend of herbs does do justice to za’atar pita. Hence the purchase of a jar of this herb mixture is worth it to try the za’atar pita crisps recipe in the comfort of your home. For the next dish was much spoken about in this list, it felt unfair to leave it out: 11) Tahini Picture Credit: www.seriouseats.com The tahini dip, spread or condiment is made from a base of toasted and ground sesame seeds made to a paste and is essential to, if not all, many Middle Eastern dishes. Tahini collaborates well with sweet as well as savory flavors hence is a highlight on the mezze platter. An uncommon yet palatable combination is tahini and halvah, so be sure to have a go at it when possible. Buckle up for a flavorsome ride on the Middle Eastern cuisine serving wholly satisfying food and leaving you wanting more of the Mediterranean goodness. Amongst the uncountable delectable dishes on their menu, try out the dishes listed above on your next visit to the Middle East!...

  • Travelling To Berlin? Drop By These Mosques & Get To Know The Muslim Society

    Berlin, the capital of Germany, is also the largest city in the country. With a population of nearly 3.7 million, this city, after London is the most populous city in the European Union. Berlin is a modern metropolis with countless tourist attractions exhibiting the country’s cultural background and love for science, media, and technology. Travelers have a full array of entertainment options and venues to visit: orchestras, museums, gardens, parks and many more. With an overwhelming choice of tourist sites to visit, it's pretty certain that the tourists come from all walks of life with different nationalities, ethnicities and religious views. It may come as a surprise to many that Germany has many beautiful mosques worth visiting for the various Islamic architectural styles of different ethnic groups. And, plenty of them have fascinating histories. Traveling to Berlin will be easy for Muslim travelers with this list of places if you need to know where to pray in Berlin: Şehitlik Mosque Picture Credit: Sehitlik Camii The largest and certainly the most ravishing mosque in Berlin is the Şehitlik Mosque. The most fascinating aspect of the building is that it is not only a prayer place, but it also serves as a community center, and a great location to have a dialogue. The local Muslims are very welcoming, friendly and open to answering any queries. Picture Credit: Sehitlik Camii The classical architectural by Hilmi Senalp is inspired from the 16th and 17th century Ottoman Empire designs. The mosque was built between 1999 to 2005, on a plot of land gifted by King Wilhelm I to the Ottoman Empire to be used as a Muslim cemetery which was inaugurated in the 1860s, since then that land remains as the official Turkish territory. The cemetery is still in use today and makes it the oldest of its kind in Germany. The mosque accommodates a whopping 1550 worshipers at any given time. Picture Credit: Sehitlik Camii This mosque in Berlin has the highest attendance of both worshippers and visitors. The attractive building has an octagonal structure supported by pillars and arches. Two narrow minarets stand erect on either side of the enormous dome. An absolutely tranquil sight is when the daylight emerges into the mosque through the stained glass windows installed around the mosque. Picture Credit: Sehitlik Camii Often referred to as ‘one of the most impressive buildings anywhere in the city’, the intricate design in the interior of the mosque showcases some breathtaking stonework carvings and meticulously inlaid entrance doors. The golden calligraphy captures attention of all who enter the holy building, with abstract patterns in blue and red that work wonders to highlight the craftsmanship. Picture Credit: Sehitlik Camii A great alternative to sightseeing in Berlin would be to tour around the Sehitlik Mosque, which is free of charge, although the administration does appreciate donations. A guided tour in English is arranged through prior booking. Picture Credit: Sehitlik Camii Located not far from Neukölln, an area densely crowded with tourists, the Sehitlik Mosque is easily accessible to passers-by wanting to add a magnificent visual treat to their agenda. Address: Columbiadamm 128, 10965 Berlin, GermanyTel. Phone: +49 30 6921118Geographic Coordinates: 52°28'54.5"N 13°24'33.8"EWebsite: www.sehitlik-camii.de Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Mosque Picture Credit: Islamischer Verein für wohltätige Projekte e.V. Facebook Omar Ibn Al- Khattab Mosque is built by the Islamischer Verein für wohltätige Projekte ("Islamic Association for Charitable Projects," IVWP) and was inaugurated in 2010 after six long years of construction that began in June 2004. The building that accommodates the Omar Ibn Al- Khattab Mosque is part of a Muslim commercial and social center with boutiques that sell abaya, bookshops, cafes, a library, a supermarket, a wedding hall and surprisingly, even a school. Built in 2008 with a total financial budget of nearly 12.5 million dollars raised solely by private Lebanese and Palestinian donors, the building that emerged is certainly a must visit when in Berlin. The mosque having a magnificent glass dome and four minarets; each seven meters tall is incorporated in the 5000 square meter structure having the above-listed amenities and more all under one roof. On the third floor of the six-storied building is the prayer hall for ladies, with the ablution area on the fourth floor. Picture Credit: Islamischer Verein für wohltätige Projekte e.V. Facebook The premise is easily accessible, being quite close to the metro station. From here, the east side gallery and Berlin wall Museum can be visited. Having the building designed with an astonishing collaboration of modern architecture and traditional Middle Eastern and Ottoman interior, this structure is one of the most epics on the streets of Berlin. The beauty of the Islamic carvings seen on marble inside the prayer hall is enhanced by the magnificent chandelier that hangs in the center of the ceiling, visible from both the women’s and men’s floors. Picture Credit: Islamischer Verein für wohltätige Projekte e.V. Facebook The masjid itself has the capacity to accommodate 1000 individuals, excluding the space at the cafes, bookstores, library, restaurants and other facilities. Interestingly, the building is surrounded by a large percentage of Turkish and Arabic speaking people, as many restaurants and bio cafes that serve tea, baklava, Arabic desserts, and soups are situated around the masjid. A fun spot for travelers to hang out during their Muslim friendly visit, and a convenient hangout for non-Muslims curious about Islam, or Islamic culture. For visits and tours: Language of service: Arabic/ Turkish Prayers: All prayers including formal Jum'a Address: Wiener Straße 1-6, 10999 Berlin, Germany, 52°29'56.0"N 13°25'36.7"EPhone: +49 30 6126961Website: www.ivwp.de Visit beautiful mosques near you when in Berlin using the list above as a guide. Engage in cultures, traditions and explore the evolution of Islamic architecture in Berlin during your Muslim-friendly stay in Germany. Learn about authentic German influence on the Turkish and Arabic ethnicities while socializing with locals at Mosques near you!...

  • 10 Things You Need to Buy From China

    China is a country that entertains all its visitors with numerous festivities and countless historical tourist attractions to learn from and be awe-inspired by. For the Muslim travellers to China, even though Halal food is rare to find other than in the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an, all vacationers want to purchase the perfect China souvenirs for recounting cherished memories made in the country, or for their family and friends back home. The question isn’t really what to buy when in China - it’s what not to buy in China! In the busy chaotic streets of China, you’d often be perplexed as to what the best buy could be, to take home the perfect souvenir. Here is a list to help you on your shopping spree while touring around Beijing, Shanghai and even the spectacular Wonder of the World, the Great Wall of China. More on shopping experiences Find a Halal Hotel in China   1) Tea A day in, day out beverage choice for the Chinese, tea is conveniently available at any corner store or supermarket. The black, green and white tea; in increasing order of exclusiveness, is what you should be looking out for. Special high end tea, like the Jasmine tea carries a unique flavor and is highly fragranced. To experience this one-of-a-kind Chinese tea in the comfort of your home, you'll be able to purchase a packet of tea from famous tea markets for a reasonable price. What’s more special than green tea that’s jasmine scented is the longjing tea, translating to the Dragon well tea, a pan roasted version of the green tea, native to the Hangzhou culture, best to be bought from this city. Once you’re at the large markets and have bought tea that satisfies your taste buds, why not have a look around for other tea-related cutlery; tea sets, teapots and maybe dinnerware too, that has Chinese inspired artwork on it. The next celebration you have at home should give you a great opportunity to showcase your novelties to your friends and loved ones. Maliandao Tea Street in Beijing Address: Maliandao Rd, Xicheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China Tianshan Tea City in Shanghai Address: 518 Zhongshan W Rd, TianShan, Changning Qu, Shanghai Shi, ChinaTel: +86 21 6259 9999 Wukuaishi Tea Market in Chengdu Address: 2 Saiyuntai East 1st Rd, RenMin BeiLu, Jinniu Qu, Chengdu Shi, Sichuan Sheng Hangzhou Longjingshan Park in Hangzhou Address: 104 Weng Mountain, Manjuelong Rd, Xihu Qu, Hangzhou Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, Tel: +86 571 8796 9588   2) Chinese silk Picture Credit - Daderot, commons.wikimedia.org Chinese silk is a popular purchase amongst female tourists as it is an apt gift for the ladies back at home. Various items of silk can be bought, from luxurious bedding to silk carpets, bags and accessories. The best idea for either a Chinese culture lover, a member of the Chinese diaspora or fashionaista, would be to get a local tailor to make a qipao (a beautiful one-piece, body-hugging traditional Chinese garment) to your measurements so that you can brag about your tailor-made souvenir from your trip to China. Chinese silk is a comfortable material, however the quality of silk may vary from shop to shop, so if the idea of getting your own qipao excites you, be sure to check on the quality before you make the purchase. An old, much admired favourite silk product to buy is Chinese silk carpets and rugs, that rather than placed on floors, are exhibited as wall hangings to do justice to the utterly beautiful handiwork and appreciate the effort gone into reeling and weaving the silk to produce rich and exquisite carpets with intricate designs. Silk in Shanghai: i) Jiannan Silk Shopping Center Address: 289 Aomen Rd, Putuo Qu, Shanghai Shi Website: jiangnansilk.cn ii) Fabric Market Address: 399 Lujiabang Rd, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi Silk in Suzhou: i) Suzhou Wujiang Eastern Silk Market Address: Xinhang Rd, Wujiang Qu, Suzhou Shi, Jiangsu Sheng ii) Suzhou Chief Silk Tourism Products Market Address: 678, Fengqiao Rd, Gusu Qu, Suzhou Shi, Jiangsu Sheng Travel Tip! If your trip is limited to just a few cities that don’t include the above mentioned, but you are adamant on buying yourself a luxurious silk carpet, then check out the markets in Xinjiang and Hangzhou if they fall within your territory, and you may just be able to take home a valuable silk carpet from China.   3) Pearls Picture Credit - wonderopolis.org How could one possibly miss out on the freshwater pearls when in China, more specifically when in Shanghai; where the iconic Pearl Tower resides. Pearls from China are the best gift to give a loved one, be it either authentic for the deep pocketed or the unauthentic, pearls from Shanghai are considered invaluable for the symbolism they carry. Rooted deeply in the Chinese culture, pearls signify perfection, purity, love and beauty, while also being associated with good health. Such a meaningful present can not only bring happiness, but also touch hearts. And, what’s more important than getting value for money? There's an overwhelming number of pearls to choose from, varying in shape, size, color and luster, and the price tag adapts accordingly. It’s essential to receive a product that you’ve paid for, especially when talking about real pearls, which are not easy to distinguish from fake ones. However, with a few tricks up your sleeve you'll be able to tell them by their smoothness. Real pearls have a rather gritty surface unlike the flawless smooth ones of the fake, and genuine pearls scrape glass while inauthentic ones don’t. Elegant and posh looking shops may try slipping in fake pearls, so it's best to be cautious. A list of the most reliable centers in Shanghai from which to get your pearls (according to the Internet): i) Han City Shopping Center Address: 3rd Floor, 580 Nanjing Road (near Chengdu Road)Hours: 10 AM to 10 PM ii) Hongqiao International Pearl City Address: 3721 Hongmei Road, Changning DistrictHours: 10 AM to 10 PM daily iii) Yayi Gold Store, First Asia Jewelry Plaza Address: 3/F, 288 Fuyou Rd, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM daily   4) Cloisonné - Chinese ceramic Picture Credit - pschemp, commons.wikimedia.org Originally limited to metalwork, cloisonné art is now seen in ceramics too.  That that being said, China deals in some exceptionally beautiful cloisonné ceramics that visitors ought to buy as souvenirs. The intricate procedure in designing a cloisonné art is the reason for its popularity and rightfully, rather high price for someone on a budget trip, but if it’s a case of love at first sight of the cloisonné then there’s no doubt one must buy it ‘cause once bought this piece is not one that you will regret having purchased for the attention it draws and compliments it gets. The absolute mastery, patience and time required to design a cloisonné ceramic makes it invaluable, carefully crafted by combining gold dust into layers of enamel to finally convert a plain and simple ceramic; be it a vase, accessory or jewelry, plates and plaque to an enticing artwork. Incredibly, a couple of cloisonné factories allow for visitors to view their men/women at work in creating their products. Therefore, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon in Beijing, being fascinated by pure talent while you purchase a gorgeous souvenir to mark your stay in China. The two factories in Beijing that entertain inquisitive visitors- i) Huairou Cloisonné A short distance away from the Mutianyu Great Wall; another famous tourist attraction. Address: China, Beijing Shi, Huairou Qu, 郭家坞488号 ii) Beijing Enamel Factory Likely the biggest factory in and around the Beijing area. Address: 10 Anlelin Road, Yongdingmenwai. Shopper Tip! For one who wants to purchase a whole lot for eager family members and friends back home, a reasonable stop would be at China’s popular wholesale cloisonné market, to get an overwhelming range of items for the best price. iii) Yiwu Commodities Trade Market Address: Chengbei Rd, Yiwu, Jinhua, Zhejiang, China, 322000   5) Chinese Knots Picture Credit - ProjectManhattan. commons.wikimedia.org From way back in the Tang Dynasty era, the Chinese knots have shown remarkable significance. Although used mainly for communication purposes back then, it did so in an artsy form. Nowadays, much of the skill of Chinese knotting is used to make ornaments and pieces of decoration rather than having literary meaning, like in the past, where they held great meaning, and historical & cultural significance. Like most artwork created in China that have symbolic meaning to it, so do the Chinese knots. The knots signify the divine, unity, love, and knots made specifically from red cords resemble good fortune. Have a bunch of eager friends back home waiting for a gift from China? These Chinese knots are a perfect souvenir for them; opt for little knots to gift them as key chains and maybe larger ones for wall hangings. Have a friend who is newly wedded? Gifting them the Chinese knots that signify love and togetherness, a meaningful gift for the newlyweds!  The highlight of your love for Chinese knots would be that there are places around Beijing that help you create your very own Chinese knots so you can take back home a Chinese souvenir that you designed and crafted. iii) Yiwu Commodities Trade Market Address: Chengbei Rd, Yiwu, Jinhua, Zhejiang, China, 322000 This famous handcraft market in China that sells Chinese knots in a range of variants; be it color of cord, type of cord, size of knot or complexity of knot. The particular area assigned for Chinese knots is on the second floor of District 5.   6) Chopsticks Picture Credit - 毛抜き, commons.wikimedia.org Love the Chinese culture and tradition? Looking to go Chinese when you’re back home? A must buy item is chopsticks. For one who loves the art and idea of eating with chopsticks, there are plenty of shops to choose your best pair from, and chopsticks that differ in all aspects - the material used, the design on it, the technical touch, for example, wooden chopsticks, chopsticks made from bone, chopsticks that have been painted on or engraved, and the technically advanced chopsticks that are attached to one another, for the amateurs. The perfect gift from your China trip for family and friends back home. Buy a compilation of a set of chopsticks; 1 to 10 pairs with identical design embedded on them, a chopstick holder that comes with a similar design, and amazingly pots and bowls too, following the same pattern. You can present them a China inspired cutlery and crockery which culture enthusiasts will appreciate to the core. Tricky tip! For the eastern culture lovers, a wide range of chopsticks and chopstick-associated products can be purchased online too.   7) Jewellery A ladies’ favorite, jewellery items: bracelets, bands, anklets, necklaces and a truckload of choices. Buy what you love - the accessories are cheap and lasting. Have a bunch of stylish and trendy friends back home who are eager to receive a China related gift from you? Jewellery from China is without doubt the most ideal gift for them. Jewellery inspired by Chinese culture and traditions can be purchased from either near temples or ethnic markets. To name a few: Beijing’s Lama Temple, Tibetan temple and the markets in Chengdu, are well known for these items. What’s even more convenient is that local vendors are often seen at tourist attraction spots with their products hence making the market more accessible. Shopping Tip! It's not advisable to plan on purchasing jade or pearl jewellery from some local boutique by the roadside as many may sell fake pieces that only look genuine. If your budget for jewelry is higher than the trendy beaded jewelry that is sold at small boutiques, then you must visit Shanghai. Reread Point 3) Pearls.   8) Masks For the artistic visitors of China, a splendid addition to your agenda when touring in Beijing is to book tickets for the popular Beijing Opera. Here, the tickets, the masks and the memories made will be the best souvenirs to take home for the art and culture fanatics. The oldest and possibly largest show is played in Chengdu, Sichuan Opera. The art of showcasing a story in opera form by the medium masks is called “face changing”, in which the actor changes masks for the sake of better entertainment. Masks are an essential prop in Chinese Opera entertainment and can be purchased from various stores around the Beijing theatre to add a perfect artwork on a blank wall. The masks come in a range of size, colour combinations and exhibit different festivities and eras. Address: Chengdu Culture Park, Qintai Road, ChengduPerformance time: 8pm to 9:30pm.Ticket price: There are 4 classes of seats:Bing class for 140 yuanYi class for 180 yuanJia class for 240 yuanVIP class for 320 yuan   9) Calligraphy The art of Chinese calligraphy is one that has been preserved in the Chinese culture for about 1000 years. Its beauty, sophistication and pristine clarity makes it eye pleasing and awe worthy when hung up as a wall decoration. A pretty cool souvenir would be getting your name, or something you hold dear to you, written in Chinese calligraphy so that it can be displayed on your wall at home. The traditional Chinese calligraphy is in five styles: seal script, cursive script, running script, official script and formal character. All these forms date back to the Han, Zhou, East Han Dynasties (to name a few) and hold historic value. For the typography lovers, a worthwhile buy would be the supplies for learning Chinese calligraphy which could easily be bought from a store selling the artwork. Shop for Supplies at: Man Luen Choon Address: 2/F, Harvest Building, 29-35 Wing Kut Street, Central. Best place to visit for painting, calligraphy and crafts is Liulichang Street in Beijing. According to tales, this street has historic significance as it was here, during the Ming and Qing Dynasty that painters, scholars and calligraphers gathered and shared their passion.   10) Mao Memorabilia Also called Mao collectibles in laymen terms. A growing trade in China is the collectible business. From stamps to coins, paintings and photographs, the Mao Memorabilia is a good buy for picking souvenirs. Buy school supplies, watches, accessories, any item that you can possibly think of is at the Panjiayuan antiques market in Beijing. Special sales come up like the Communist Party and the Cultural Revolution sale which is famous for the 'Red Memorabilia' offering items like the little red book. However, the most noticeable trade ongoing in Panjiayuan market is that of antiques; needless to say involving a lot of money. Enjoy your stay in China while taking a fair share of time off for souvenir shopping, for the deep-rooted culture, tradition and craftsmanship give you a wide array of options to choosem from. A shoppers’ tip would be to spend your cash wisely, ‘cause there is an overwhelming choice offered for souvenir shopping in China, so do not settle for the second best option. Find a Halal Restaurant near you in China Find a Mosque near you in China...

  • 10 Must-Try Halal Middle Eastern Dishes

    Traveling to the Middle East can be for one of the two main reasons; to live amongst a forest of skyscrapers in a sea of dessert sand or to devour the uncountable delectable local dishes that have made the Middle Eastern cuisine a go-to for comfort meals to be shared with loved ones on any occasion. Locate the best Arabic restaurants on your stay and enjoy the wholesome, rich and freshly prepared meal at a reasonable price. What’s more special about this mouthwatering cuisine is that, by tradition, each portion ordered is enough for a gathering to feast on with a pile of food being served and the table decorated wholly with Middle Eastern salads and the obligatory mezze platter that comes with most dishes on their menu. Middle Eastern cuisine is the cherry on top of all Halal cuisines a diner could ask for. The best authentic Arabic and Middle Eastern dishes serve the perfect combination of flavors, colors and beyond a doubt fulfill the living dream of all foodies. Here is a list of the ten yummiest hence most popular Arabic dishes (a list which was difficult to cut short)- via GIPHY 1) Hummus A creamy and smooth blend of mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Hummus is served as either a dip with the traditional pita bread and vegetables, but it also works its wonder when spread in a burger, or even with baked potato.  Its flavor is combined with other Arabic dishes when used as a condiment. Hummus is more of a staple dish; this mouthwatering and healthy appetizer found in nearly all Middle Eastern restaurants is the best pick to start off your foody-ride. Foodie Tip! For the diners who are more experienced in attacking Middle Eastern dishes, ask to add in more garlic to get a taste of the true, local tang. Recommended restaurant Picture Credit - facebook.com/AbuShukriRestaurant/ Address: Abu Shukri, Via Dolorosa near Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, IsraelOpening Hours: 8am -4.30pm (sometimes later on Saturdays) Tel.: +972 2 627 1538 Facebook   2) Shawarma Picture Credit - Peteravivangel, commons.wikimedia.org A ridiculously tasty bundle of goodness. The Arabic version of the Greek gyro, with the exception of tender meat, is slow cooked on a turning spit preserving the juiciness and incorporating the rustic flavors of smokiness, the highlight of the Middle Eastern variant. This wrap of laffa / hot pita bread filled with smoky meat together with sauces, cream, veggies and the earthy, authentic Arabic spices, which make every bite of this Middle Eastern dish leave you craving for more. Foodie Tip! Shawarma is more commonly found made with either chicken or beef although the traditional option; lamb is a must-try specialty. via GIPHY Recommended restaurant Photo credit Address: Hashipudia (Yeudit), 6 Ha-Shikma Street, Jerusalem, Israel.Opening Hours: Sunday - Thursday 11am to 11pmContact: +972 2-625-4036Tel: +972 2 625 4036 Facebook   3) Baba Ghanouj/ Ghanoush Found alongside the famous hummus on a mezze platter, Baba Ghanouj is often described as the best eggplant dish - a succulent eggplant dip and a vegetarian favorite. Although spelled in countless ways, this dip delivers similar deliciousness all across the Middle East with a combination of flavors from roasted eggplant, garlic, Arabian spices and the famous sesame seed paste- tahini. Like most dips, Baba Ghanouj is used as a condiment in Middle Eastern cuisine, sharing its wholesome flavor with more dishes on the menu.  Foodie Tip! When ordering Baba Ghanouj, ask for it to be spiced up with chili for the real Arabic zing. Recommended restaurant Address: Zest, One&Only The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.Opening Hours: Breakfast: 7.00am to 11.00am / Lunch: 12.00pm to 6.00pm / Dinner: 6.00pm to 11.00pm (last order 10.45pm)/ Brunch: Friday & Saturday 12.00pm to 4.30pmTel: +971 4 440 1010Website: https://www.oneandonlyresorts.com/one-and-only-the-palm-dubai/cuisine/zest   4) Halvah Picture Credit - deror_avi, commons.wikimedia.org Much like the name suggests, in Arabic, Halvah means a sweet confection and is most likely the most popular Middle Eastern sweet. Halvah is much like a layer cake generally shaped as a cheese wheel. The main component of grain based halvah is glutens like wheat, or semolina and are spongy in texture, while the main ingredient of nut based halvah is tahini paste; sesame seeds and sugar. Although the unique flavor of plain halvah tastes excellent, it is often flavored with pistachio or chocolate.   5) Tabbouleh Picture Credit - cyclonebill, commons.wikimedia.org Tabbouleh, a cocktail of herbs, parsley, mint, bulgur (cracked wheat) and a handful of vegetables, onions and tomatoes, is the best appetizer for not only the vegetarians out there, but also for the health-freak foodies who love to chomp but are calorie-conscious. This Arabian salad is refreshing and bright, however it'll leave some green stuck between your teeth, so be cautious. Foodie Tip! To the meat lovers; this delicious salad has the ability to make you switch teams, so watch out for it yumminess. Recommended restaurant Picture credit - kitchico.com Address: Cairo Restaurant, Al-Malek Talal Street, Amman, JordanOpening Hours: 8am to 10pmTel: +962 6 462 4527   6) Baklava Similar to the Greek baklava, this Middle Eastern sweet pronounced as baklawa is made with lots of love and layers of thin sheets of buttery filo dough, filled with a mixture of coarsely ground nuts and Arabian spices. Unlike the Greeks who use honey, this mixture is bound together with sugar syrup and either rose water or orange blossom. Drizzled with honey to top off the unique dessert, baklava is made in interesting shapes. For example, the shape of birds’ nests, though cylinders and triangles are more common. via GIPHY Foodie Tip! Pistachio and walnut baklavas are the easiest to find, however, look out for the fruity version for an alternative experience that you’ll be glad you had. Recommended restaurant Address: Karaköy Güllüoğlu, Rihtim Cad, Kati Otopark Alti, 3-4 Karakoy, Istanbul.Opening Hours: Monday - Wednesday: 7am to 12am / Thursday - Saturday: 7am – 1am / Sunday: 8am - 1amTel: +90 212 249 96 80 Website: http://www.karakoygulluoglu.com/    Facebook | Instagram | Twitter   7) Labneh Picture Credit - stu_spivack, flickr.com This low-in-calories Middle Eastern alternative to traditional cream cheese is not too sour or strong in flavor, and is easily made from cow’s milk. Labneh is a creamier, thicker and denser variant of the Greek yoghurt, often found alongside hummus and tahini on the mezze platter. A great dip for za’atar pita bread, your favourite veggies, and even fruits, the versatile Labneh dip is best to share among the flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine. Foodie Tip! Sprinkle authentic Arabic spices on labneh to enjoy the more exciting version.   8) Falafel A globally recognized Middle Eastern dish, the falafel sandwich is much beloved and appreciated in the foodie empire. The traditional falafel sandwich is a gigantic pita bread wrapping of the falafel patty along with tangy pickles, fresh vegetables and tahini spread. To best compliment a falafel sandwich, order a salad to go with it. The most interesting aspect of the savoury doughnut is that the falafel patty has a crispy exterior when freshly fried, contrasting to its soft and fluffy interior composed of ground chickpeas, onions and a decent amount of herbs and spices blended in to enhance the simplicity and flavor of the dish. The falafel perfectly fills in for the protein on a vegetarian’s menu and as with hummus, is a staple on the obligatory mezze platter. Recommended restaurant Picture Credit - instagram.com/booksatcafe_jo/ Address: Books@Cafe, 'Umar Ibn Al Khattab, Amman, JordanOpening Hours: 9am - 2amTel: +962 6 465 0457Website: https://www.booksatcafe.com/ Facebook | Instagram | Twitter   9) Mansaf Picture Credit - Ji-Elle, commons.wikimedia.org Jordan’s national dish, mansaf is culturally meant for feasts and celebratory gatherings. Mansaf in Arabic, literally translates to “large tray” and therefore is served as such, enough to cater to a small foodie nation! This Middle Eastern resemblance of an enormous pizza looks rather intimidating for vegetarians. Chunks of lamb cooked in broth of Jameed (a variety of cheese made from fermented yoghurt), dressed with yummy yoghurt and garnished with almond and pine nuts are on display placed on a heap of white rice served on an oversized platter of flatbread. Initially a Jordanian dish, Mansaf migrated to Palestine, Iraq and the Saudi Arabia to mark its deliciousness.  Recommended restaurant Picture credit - jabri.com.jo Address: Jabri Restaurant, Wasfi Al-Tal Street, Amman, Jordan.Opening Hours: 9am to 11pmTel: +962 6 568 1700Website: http://www.jabri.com.jo/   10) Pita with za’atar Picture Credit - N. Saum, commons.wikimedia.org A staple component of Middle Eastern cooking, the warm and versatile pita bread is served in nearly every meal. Za’atar pita's specialty is that the dough is generously sprinkled with a blend of Middle Eastern spices which include thyme, oregano and marjoram to uplift the sensory experience of the flavorsome bread dipped in any appetizer off the mezze platter. The original za’atar plant, rather endangered, is protected by the government to preserve the rare and authentic Mediterranean flavor, however, the addition of herbs doesn't detract from the original taste of the za’atar pita. Hence the purchase of a jar of this herb mixture is worth it if you want to try the za’atar pita crisps recipe in the comfort of your home. Since the next dish was frequently mentioned on the list of 10 Must-Try Middle Eastern dishes, it felt unfair to leave it out:   11) Tahini Picture Credit - jules, flickr.com The tahini dip, spread or condiment is made from a base of toasted and ground sesame seeds ground to a paste and is essential to, if not all, many Middle Eastern dishes. Tahini collaborates well with sweet as well as savory flavors, and is hence a highlight on the mezze platter. An uncommon, yet palatable combination is tahini and halvah, so be sure to have a go at it when possible. Buckle up for a flavorsome ride on Middle Eastern cuisine, serving wholly satisfying food and leaving you wanting more of the Mediterranean goodness. Amongst the uncountable delectable dishes on their menu, try out the dishes listed above on your next visit to the Middle East! Check out our Travel Blog on the Middle East...

  • Eshima Ohashi Bridge in Japan - A Terrifying Sight!

    Japan’s crazy rollercoaster of a ride, the terrific Eshima Ohashi bridge holds the record firstly, for the steepest bridge in the world and secondly, it is the third largest of its kind in the world. A round trip to Japan is mandatory to experience firsthand what it’s like to drive over this spectacularly famous Japanese structure. via GIPHY Find things to do in Japan Book a holiday to Japan with us Find a Halal Hotel in Japan   History of the Eshima Ohashi Bridge Photo credit - japanesesignage.wordpress.com The construction of the mile-long Eshima Ohashi bridge began in 1997 and continued aggressively until it was completed, and its opening was celebrated in 2004. Its construction is truly an architectural wonder, as while the architects were busy trying to ensure the ships sailing below could still pass under it, in the process they built Japan a tall, beautiful, yet intimidating epitome of civil engineering.   The Geographical Significance of the Eshima Ohashi Bridge Picture credit - maps.google.com The bridge extends across Lake Nakaumi, which holds brackish water, i.e. water that has more salinity than fresh water, within its lake shore. This lake, separating the two cities of Matsue and Sakaiminato, is one of the largest lakes in Japan. The role of the massive construction, Eshima Ohashi is to connect the two divided cities while allowing ships sailing the Nakaumi to pass under it.   The Math involved in Eshima Ohashi bridge Picture Credit - www.dailymail.co.uk Picture Credit - engineeringgarden.blogspot.sg This 1.44 km long bridge is 11.3 m wide with a height of about 144 feet; that is nearly 44 meters tall. The Eshima Ohashi bridge has a gradient of 5.1 % on the Tottori Prefecture side (Sakaiminato end) and a rather steeper gradient of 6.1 % on the Shimane Prefecture side (Matsue end), making it appear like the apex of a rollercoaster from either end of it. In reality though, the incline is not as much as it appears to be, nevertheless the nickname “rollercoaster bridge” is apt for the jitters it gives to viewers at a first glance. Have the nerve to drive on this nerve-wracking, Japanese wonder? Well, the ridiculous incline from either end of Eshima Ohashi is absolutely terrifying but thanks to the expertise of the civil engineers and service of the high fences that are employed, the bridge isn’t as scary to drive on as it is to look at. via GIPHY Be enthralled by experiencing the thrill of a real-life rollercoaster ride - the Eshima Ohashi bridge, that interestingly, is probably a part of everyday life for most people in Western Japan. Suit up, ‘cause this wonder in the world of engineering marvels might just be next on your bucket list the next time you visit Japan!   Halal Restaurants near me in Japan Mosques near me in Japan...

  • Street Food in South Korea - A Muslim Traveler's Guide

    South Korea has its fair share of tourist attractions, from ancient palaces to modern underground subways. Nevertheless, for Muslim travelers there’s more reason to travel than to just enjoy spectacular sights, namely, good food that does justice to local flavors, that is Halal at the same time. via GIPHY Guess what? Halal Korean food is not difficult to find! Good news for Muslim foodaholics looking to travel to South Korea - the cheap and yummy street food in South Korea is also, more importantly, Muslim-friendly. Countless must-try Halal Korean dishes are served in a Muslim-friendly environment, that is, they refrain from serving alcohol, and even have a prayer room. Hooray! Yet, if nothing out of all the halal options satisfy you, the numerous delicious vegetarian options available will definitely tantalize your taste buds, leaving you wanting more of the Korean goodies. Find things to do in South Korea Book a Halal Holiday to South Korea   1. Tteok-bokki Tteok-bokki is probably the most popular South Korean snack sold by street food vendors in nearly any alley of Seoul. This snack, sold in paper cups, is a cocktail of chewy rice cake with the tantalizing “gochujang”, an authentic Korean sweet and spicy sauce made with red peppers. With every bite of the rice cake, the tang of the Korean sauce will hit you with truly local flavors. Halal Taste Tip! Some vendors tend to add in fish and meat in their sauce, to ensure it is Halal all you need to do it double check with the vendor and opt for a vegetarian sauce.   2. Kimbap A tasty yet healthy meal within a tight budget- the kimbap which is a Korean alternative to the Japanese sushi is a must try, for the different versions of the dish it offers to satisfy all taste buds. Like the original sushi, the kimbap too is a roll of sticky rice in a layer of seaweed drizzled with oil and garnished with sesame seeds. You can order your kimbap with various yummy fillings: pickled vegies, seafood, meat or tofu. Keeping aside the numerous variants of the dish, the mouthwatering Halal choice remains the Chamchi Kimbap, a Korean sushi with tuna filling.   3. Hotteok After a tummy full of the Korean goodies, Hotteok is the kind of guilty pleasure that you somehow manage to fit into your stuffed belly. This local dessert is one for the sweet tooth and the inquisitive food geek who likes to experiment with flavors. Hotteok is a traditional Korean dessert, and a hot favorite to travelers. In all its simplicity, hotteok is a pancake. However, the extraordinary aspect to this pancake is that its dough is stuffed with delicacies like honey, nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon to top it all off. Served hot and crispy, each mouthful of this dessert will leaving you craving for more. Taste Tip! For the best experience of hotteok, try them at a couple of places as all vendors have their own secret for its preparation! Golden Taste Tip! Try the hotteok at Insa- dong for a savory alternative with noodles and veggie-stuffed pancakes. Price - 2,000 ₩/ piece, 3,000 ₩ for two pieces.   4. Pajeon Picture Credit - www.flickr.com/photos/la_addict Yet another Korean pancake. This version however, is a pancake prepared from wheat flour, a batter of eggs, and for the Korean twist, stalks of green onion are added. To top it off, these ingredients are accompanied by shrimp or squid for the Haemul Pajeon, served with soy sauce and the famous Korean chilli dip. The haemul panjeon is just another version of the pancake, so if you don't do seafood, you can still conveniently stick to the yummy vegetarian option. Tried it? Liked it? A taste tip your way! Hop onto the Seoul subway line 1 to Hoegi station and take Exit 9. Here, the Pajeon Alley (located near Kyung Hee University) will treat you well, satisfying all your pajeon cravings. Price/ piece - 5,000 ₩   5. Twigim Not worried about your calorie intake when on vacation? Then these Korean deep fried treats are for you. Twigim is the Korean version of tempura, in which the main ingredient is coated in batter and deep fried to get sizzling, crispy, mouthwatering delights. The choice for the main ingredient can be shrimp, vegetables, greens like spinach, boiled eggs, but the most popular ones are the sweet potatoes. Order an assortment of twigims, freshly fried according to your choice and simply dig in. Halal Taste Tip! Avoid the mandu twigim; deep fried, batter-coated dumpling with meat filling!   6. Yachae mandu Photo credit - www.asiansupper.com In the mood for a dumpling? These Korean dumplings stuffed with healthy veggies, grilled on a hot pan are quite an apt Muslim-friendly alternative to the dumpling lovers who aren’t so sure about twigim. Confirm with your vendor if these Yachae mandus are Halal, for they may be cooked in alcohol, lard or have any kind of meat. Price/ piece- 1,000 ₩   7. Bungeoppang and Gyeranppang Photo Credit - commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Penny_Richards Photo credit - www.flickr.com/photos/traveloriented/ Crave for a Korean snack to fulfill your untimely hunger? The best options for a substantial bite are Bungeoppang, a fish shaped bread filled with red bean paste, cream, custard or cheese, and Gyeranppang, a tidy parcel of a whole egg baked inside an oblong shaped bread garnished with seeds, nuts and parsley. Both these snacks have been out on the Korean streets for a while now, and are known as the all-time favorite option for breakfast. Price/ piece- 2,000 ₩   8. Eomuk Photo Credit - flickr.com/photos/traveloriented For a healthier alternative to tasty Korean snacks which have a whole lot of fat, these fish cakes served on sticks are a good choice. The eomuk skewers are steamed, then marinated with a vegetable and seafood broth. Before devouring the fish cakes, dip them in either the nutritious broth, or spice them up with gochujang, the Korean chilli sauce. Taste Tip! The broth, the chilli sauce and any other dipping served is unlimited by the generous Korean vendors. Enjoy them with your fish sticks to your heart’s content!   9. Ojingeo Gui The most popular skewed South Korean food is the Ojingeo Gui, squid on a stick. This abundantly available street food is simply prepared by inserting squid cubes in skewers and grilling them over a traditional charcoal barbecue, infusing this delight with rustic, earthy flavors. Get your hand on this dish while at major markets or even at narrow foodie streets, vendors serving the ojingeo gui are never unoccupied! Indulge in Halal street food with authentic Korean flavors. There's more to South Korea than the endless shopping it offers, than the fascinating palaces, the metropolitan city centres. South Korea is also about dining; fine dining at top notch restaurants and on the contrary, the unbeatable street vendors serving delectable Korean snacks. Visit South Korea for a Halal, Muslim friendly vacation. The Ultimate Foodie Tip! Your trip to South Korea is unfinished without going to the Korean street food heaven Myeongdong, Seoul. To get there, all you need to do is hop on to Seoul Subway Line 4 to Myeongdong Station, and take Exit 7. via GIPHY Find a Halal Restaurant near you in South Korea Find a Mosque near you in South Korea...

  • Experience Islamic China in Xi’an

    Xi’an, a large city in central China, houses a predominantly Muslim population hence this Islamic city emerges as an extraordinary city offering a Halal, Muslim- friendly holiday with countless, convenient Halal food places and great, beautiful Mosques (prayer places). Xi’an not only cherishes its Islamic culture but also proudly showcases its historic Chinese monuments like the famous Terracotta Warriors, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Bell Tower, the Forest of Stelae Museum and many more. Be sure to visit this modern city which, contradictorily also displays a beautiful ancient facet.   History of Xi’an, the first Islamic city in China Previously called Chang’an, this city served as the eastern end of the ancient Silk Route between China and the Roman Empire which was initiated in the 2nd century BC. The route not only helped transportation of goods easier but also conveniently facilitated sharing of ethnicity, culture and traditions through migration of merchants and traders. During this time of friendly business, a handful of Arabs and Persians settled in this land and introduced the Islamic faith in China. From this early civilization stemmed the 10 million ethnic Chinese Muslim population spread across China in modern times, out  70, 000 of which inhabit the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an.   Attractions that must not be missed when in Xi’an Modern-day Xi’an is the capital of the Shaanxi Province in central China with a bustling crowd of 8 million. This city welcomes thousands of tourists, for it exhibits archaeological sites dating back to the Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang dynasties'.   1) Terracotta Army The famous Terracotta Warriors; life-size, clay sculptures of the army of Qin Shi Huang are a must visit when in Xi’an. The tomb of the First Emperor of Qin is marked as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries and attracts historians, tourists and educationist from all around the globe.   2) The Big Wild Goose Pagoda An iconic Buddhist temple standing strong till date from the Tang Dynasty, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is yet another attraction, whether Muslim or not.   3) Ancient City Wall The Ancient City Wall at the inner core of Xi’an, towering up to 12m in height is considered a landmark to date, separating the inner and outer city. This giant wall was built during the 14th century by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, Ming Dynasty and is now a great fascination for visitors to tour the city wall while biking or strolling about enjoying the beautiful view.   4) The Bell Tower The Bell Tower in Xi’an is located at the juncture of crossroads going north south, east and west. During the olden times, the enormous bell at the top of this tower was rung hourly to mark time and a replica of this historic bell still remains in the Bell Tower for visitors to see.   5) The Muslim Quarter Picture Credit -  Seriouseats.com This popular Muslim friendly location is basically a bunch of intertwined lanes offering countless kebab shops, stores exhibiting popular Muslim purchase items like the Hijab and Burka, and fruit stalls serving fresh fruits of all colour, size and shape. The Muslim Quarter is not only a must-visit region in Xi’an but a must-have experience on the whole. Within the Muslim Quarter alone there are comfortably 10 beautiful Mosques, all from various dynasties, of which the Great Mosque is the oldest and largest in all of China. Unlike the traditional Mosques as those in the Middle East and Turkey, the Mosques in Xi’an are designed to represent the Chinese culture and showcase ethnic architectural features like the Chinese pagodas, glazed tiled roof and the Phoenix statues.   6) The Great Mosque Picture Credit - www.thousandwonders.net The splendid, Great Mosque, is by far the most visited architectural treat to all Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Inspired by Chinese architecture, this structure was inaugurated during the peak era of the Tang Dynasty in 742. In present times, the prayer hall in Xingxin Tower of the Great Mosque bustles with more than one thousand worshippers daily during all five prayers times. Non-Muslims, not being allowed into the prayer hall can, however, visit the courtyard complex of the Mosque and have a walk around the serene gardens and witness the local heritage displays from 8 am to 7.30pm any day of the week. Address: Beiyuanmen Snacks Street, Lianhu, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China, 710001   Hui Chinese following Islam The Hui people are fully Chinese with the exclusion of the fact that they are Muslim unlike the majority of Han Chinese, even though ethnically similar. However, traditionally varying, the Hui have their own taste in fashion and their unique style of food ensuring usage of Halal ingredients. The Muslim Quarter is primarily occupied by the Hui. Halal Chinese cuisine in Xi’an Picture Credit - www.seriouseats.com Mutton and lamb are the hero ingredients of the majority of the Hui street food that are predominantly Halal certified. These meats are rendered in the Chinese culinary fashion, prepared by following the cooking techniques like braising and roasting as seen in the local cuisine. Some of the fast-moving dishes in the Muslim quarter are the chuanr which is technically meat kebabs cooked on skewers, na’an bread and yang rou pao mo; a soup style dish of crumbled flatbread in a mutton stew. Dining in one of the many restaurants or boutiques in the Muslim Quarter will give you the perfect Chinese style Halal meal. When is the best time to visit Xi’an? Generally, Xi’an has a continental climate, signifying seasons. The period between June and October is observed as the peak time for travelling to Xi’an for during this period it’s mainly warm and humid with possible monsoon showers. Another advantage of planning your travel during this time of the year is that your trip will coincide with the Xi’an Ancient Culture and Art Festival which happens in September. This festival highlights the Chinese traditions and culture showcasing folk performances: dance and music, art and literature. Enjoy a Muslim-friendly holiday in Xi’an, China. Experience the Islamic faith in China, representing the ethnic Chinese facets while exploring the numerous archaeological and architectural landmarks like the Terracotta Army and the Great Mosque exclusively in Xi’an, China. For more destination ideas on where to travel in 2018, check out our travel blog or download the Halaltrip Islamic Travel App to find locations of halal restaurants and mosques near you....

  • 8 Things to Expect When Traveling to India

    India is a country with enormous cultural diversity, a great deal of history and vast regions of unexploited villages to explore. This country offers a fair share to learn about authentic daily lives of locals in developing countries. Travel tips for a trip to India for beginners can come in handy to avoid a culture shock. You also need to prepare for the possible challenges that you might face while understanding the Indian customs and traditions. Here is a list of things you should expect on a trip to India:   1. Awe-inspiring beautiful landscapes are a common sight Expect to be mind-blown at heritage sites, remains of ancient royal castles and even at the sight of the great wonder of the world, Taj Mahal. Tourist attractions are in plenty offering culturally diverse backgrounds to them. There’s too much to grasp even when walking along the sidewalks on busy Indian streets hence better be prepared to experience a sensory overload at some time during your trip.   2. Merciless traffic The ginormous population of India will definitely not go unnoticed from the moment you arrive: with the busy streets, obnoxious honking and overcrowded sidewalks. Travelling can seem like a mission and a half in the busy cities of India but that’s all part of the adventure. Try and hail a tuk-tuk for a faster tour around of the city streets as they creep through the stagnant vehicles with more ease than a taxi so save your time for a much fun activity or a better alternative is to use metros when you don’t quite want a tour of the city.   3. Make sure you’re flexible with your plans Planning is always recommended for a short stay to get the best India has to offer in limited time. However, being too stressed about a planned day will not help as no matter how well you have organized your trip, unavoidable unexplained circumstances will turn up when in India, like the train not showing up on time for instance, so be open to the idea of amendments.   4. Prepare for an episode of illness With overcrowded cities, the pollution problem tags along. Inhaling dust all day long can irritate your respiratory system and you might end up with a cough or cold. More importantly, however, is the poor hygiene in restaurants so you best be sure to be carrying sanitizers with you all along to avoid stomach upsets or any other infection. Golden Tip for all travellers to India- Avoid drinking un-bottled water! “Bisleri” water bottles are easily available in any convenient store and that’s what you should be drinking throughout your stay.   5. Cows are everywhere Foreign to most mindsets, cows are actually considered Holy in India so pay respect and avoid shooing them away. As expected cows show up day in day out around the Indians: you’ll naturally see them in and around the fields, but don’t be taken by surprise if you also see ‘em amongst thick traffic making their way through the honking cars maximizing the priority and privilege they are given by the locals.   6. Expect to bargain at markets Shopping in markets can be quite hectic for you need to have the knack for bargaining in busy, crowded streets on humid, sunny days in a pickle of languages with confused adamant vendors. Once you bank the items you want to purchase though, India will not disappoint you in terms of quality. However, remember, haggling is customary so do not settle for the price that is initially quoted even if it sounds too tempting, because believe it or not you can get a better deal with a little extra effort.   7. Be mindful of your dressing sense Modest clothing is the fashion you must be aiming for. “Revealing” clothes: shorts, skimpy tank tops, or short skirts and dresses, attracts unwanted stares and makes for unnecessary head-turning as locals find such clothing unusual. Best advice for clothing is to pack just a handful of your regular garments and buy local fabrics once you arrive. The material used is best suited for a comfortable stay keeping the weather/ humid conditions in mind.   8. Stay safe and be aware of your surroundings When you are identified as a foreigner, which might not take very long, maybe because of the way you look or possibly due to difficulty in conversing or an overall lack of cultural awareness, you are by default expected to have priced possessions and a deep pocket. Be careful with your valuables, it’s always safe to keep a keen eye on your whereabouts. India isn’t as dangerous as it seems, nevertheless, it always is better to be safe than sorry. Take on the adventurous Indian trip to make memories to last a lifetime. The culture, diversity; experience a difference in general from the daily lives. With the major variation in customs and traditions, lifestyle and even mindsets of locals be rejuvenated with yet another perspective of life.  ...

  • 5 Mosques to visit in Selangor

    Malaysia, known for its beaches and captivating rainforests, is also famous for an architectural feast and a divine cultural showcase of a collection of beautiful Mosques (Islamic prayer places) in the most developed state of Selangor.   Puchong Perdana Mosque Picture Credit - www.wikimapia.org The elegant golden dome of Puchong Perdana Mosque and its breathtaking location within Puchong lake are just a couple of reasons for this Mosque to be visited by countless tourists. The construction of this “floating Mosque” began in 2004 and was inaugurated in 2006 in a splendid fashion. Address: Persiaran Puchong Perdana, Taman Puchong Perdana, 47100 Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia Location: 3°00'34.8"N 101°36'27.8"E Website: https://masjidassalam.my/ Tel: +60 3-8066 5777 Click here for more information about Puchong Perdana Mosque   Sultan Sulaiman Mosque Picture Credit - www.issuu.com The Royal Mosque, also known as Sultan Sulaiman Mosque is located in Klang, Selangor and houses the mausoleum of the late Sultan Salahuddin. Built in the early 1930s by the British, this Mosque is now a tourist attraction for its magnificent architecture- a fusion of Western Art Deco and Neoclassical cathedral style as well as the royal stairs; Tangga Diraja from Istana Alam Shah. Address: Jalan Raya Timur, Kawasan 1, 41000 Klang, Selangor, MalaysiaLocation: 3°02'05.2"N 101°27'01.7"EWebsite: www.mpklang.gov.myTel: +603 3371 6044 Click here for more information about Sultan Sulaiman Mosque     Masjid Diraja Tengku Ampuan Jemaah  Picture Credit - www.tourismselangor.my The Masjid Diraja Tengku Ampuan Jemaah, in Section 8 of Bukit Jelutong, is a royal Mosque built in accordance with the traditional Islamic framework of Middle East and inaugurated in 2013. It attracts tourism for showcasing, apart from its great architecture, outstanding pieces of Quranic inscriptions above the arch of its main entrances. Address: Bukit Jelutong, 40150 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia Location: 3°05'57.7"N 101°32’20.9”E Tel: +60 3-7831 3641 Click here for more information about Tengku Ampuan Jemaah Masjid   Blue Mosque Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque, popularly also called the Blue Mosque with reference to its magnificent blue and silver dome has been crowned No.2 for largest Masjid in Southeast Asia and the largest of the all in Malaysia. Address: Persiaran Masjid St., Sekysen 14, 40000 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia Location: 3.078940, 101. 519824 Website: www.mssaas.gov.my Tel: +603 5519 9988 / 7966 7977 Click here for more information about Blue Mosque    Sultan Abdul Samad Mosque Picture Credit - www.wallpapermosque.blogspot.com A stone's throw away from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) hence also called the “Klia Mosque” is the international Mosque for tourists based on its convenient location. This Masjid, built within a span of four years, officially opened in 2000 and displays architectural influences from the Middle Eastern and Malay cultures. Address:Kuala Lumpur International Airport, 64000 Sepang, Selangor, Malaysia Location: 2.78782, 101.67645 Website: www.mpsepang.gov.my Tel: +603 8319 0200 / 603 8319 0300   Click here for more information about Sultan Abdul Samad Mosque Experience the diversity between modern and ancient Malaysia as you visit the awe-inspiring Mosques in Selangor and are tantalized by utter architectural brilliance encompassed within its authentic religious serenity and peace. Locate Mosques easily during your Muslim travel to Malaysia using the HalalTrip app! Download it now and  Start planning your trip today!  ...

  • 7 Travel Trend Predictions for 2018

    The top travel trends for 2018 is up for grabs- for solo travellers, brides to be, families and students alike. This guide with travel predictions will help you preplan your next vacation in style having tips and tricks for tourism in mind.   1. Voluntourism Ideal vacation with a perfect balance of adventure and productivity. For students looking to gain university credits or for professionals in any and all fields looking to make a difference and share a helping hand in society, voluntourism is your best shot for a meaningful holiday.   2. Glamping For the adventure-loving newlyweds who don’t like to compromise on a luxurious honeymoon and for city slickers looking for a camping experience, glamping is the perfect style of vacation in 2018. Top destinations for luxury camping include Thailand, Mongolia and Sri Lanka among the Asian countries.   3. Family Trips Bonding with family along a road trip to a nearby state is increasingly common and is predicted to be a fast-growing travel trend during the 2018 spring breaks. Pack up with your family and visit a new neighbourhood, country or continent to enjoy the little personal family time off the busy 2018 work schedules.   4. Adventuring Youth, the most popular travel group, consider adventures as the main criteria for travel. These active tourists look for trekking, sailing, biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, you name it, to make their travel a memorable one. Island hopping is predicted to be an increasingly growing trend in 2018 among this travel group.   5. Exploration Trips Planning visits to an “endangered location” are on the rise and going to be a trendy choice of a travel destination in 2018. National parks, ice-capped mountains and the wildlife reserves are growing in popularity as concerned travellers want to get the best experience of these long-forgotten landscapes before the greenhouse effect takes its toll.   6. Train Travels The archaic route for travel; the railways are becoming more and more popular as days go by. Solo travellers joining the social travel groups during a retro train ride and continuing their trip as one is a tip and trick that’ll be of much use in 2018. The fashion of solo travel is fading; as social travel is emerging during which you meet like-minded vacationers from various cultural backgrounds.   7. Healing Holiday Immerse in a vacation spirit that is dedicated to the wellbeing of your health, both mental and physical. Therapy, yoga and spa sessions are just a few activities during your “healing vacation” that you can pamper yourself with. Rejuvenate and upgrade your health status while on your holiday and get back to the busy 2018 schedules with better fitness and a happier outlook on life. Follow the top travel trends for 2018 and plan your best holiday now, before it’s too late for time flies and before you know it you’ll be waving 2018 “Goodbye”. Make memories; cherish life this New Year....

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