Published on : Tuesday, June 6, 2017
In downtown Kuala Lumpur, has a small piece of land sits between international banks and flashy skyscrapers. Also, one can find the striking statue of a water jug, and some gold and red ramadas (gazebos) perfect to evoke traditional Moroccan architecture to the forefront. One can enjoy kebab stands on the boundary of the park and a small mall. The entrance gate reads Ain Arabia.
It’s one of those many purpose-built tourist attractions built in Malaysia. Based in Kuala Lampur, this Arab-themed urban village is hokey in nature. The structure was built in 2005 respectively. “Eye of Arabia” was a small gesture to Middle Eastern and Muslim travelers – that whatever other countries might think of Muslims, they were welcome in Kuala Lumpur.
However, twelve years later on, the message has finally paid off. Malaysia comprises 60% of Muslim population. The country ranks first in the world as one of the most Muslim-friendly tourist destinations. Many countries have imposed stricter restrictions for Muslim travelers; Malaysia has purposely payed special attention to Muslim visitors with small tweaks which include preparing halal food and prayer rooms instantly available. Country of 30 million now receives 5 million Muslim tourists annually, as confirmed by the Islamic Tourism Centre of the Malaysian government.
To quote Fazal Bahardeen, founder of Crescent Rating, the travel company behind the ranking, ‘after 9/11, it became difficult for many Muslims, especially from the Middle East, to travel to many traditional tourist destinations like Europe and the US. Malaysia was one of the first countries to realise the potential of this market.’