Follow the crescent moon
Bahardeen talks about his new 'halal-friendly' hotel rating system
Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of new travel company Crescentrating.com talks about his ‘halal-friendly’ rating system designed for Muslim travellers.
ATN: What’s the idea behind your new travel service Crescentrating.com?
The concept of a rating system based on the services and facilities provided for Muslim travellers was developed by myself in 2006. I travelled extensively and stayed many nights in hotels and was struggling to cope with the basic needs of a Muslim traveller (Halal food, prayer directions, timings etc).
I am sure there must have been many in the same situation. Crescentrating’s key focus, as a pioneer in the field of ‘halal-friendly fravel’ is the launch of a rating standard for hotels, travel and tourism services for their ‘halal-friendliness’.
The website lists all the Crescentrated facilities, and provides information such as Qiblah direction, prayer times and Islamic travel etiquette. We believe the Crescentrating standard will encourage the travel and tourism industry to cater to the needs of Muslim travellers globally, thereby targeting 1.6 billion travellers across the world.
ATN: How do you rate hotels and tourism products as being Halal?
The best way to go about it is to rate how friendly they are towards halal-conscious travellers. We look at the following criteria and rate them from one to seven: prayer facilities, halal food services, guest bathroom facilities, Ramadan facilities, recreation facilities and services and non-halal activities.
ATN: With Ramadan coming up in summer this year what key elements will a Muslim traveller be looking for in a destination?
The Muslim traveller will be looking for an environment that they are comfortable in observing the requirements of fasting, and an environment where these practices are respected. As for these requirements, generally they could be in found destinations where there is a Muslim majority, a Muslim minority country, but with a strong local Muslim population or destinations where the tourism boards are actively trying to make their destinations Ramadan friendly.
On a practical level Muslims will be looking for hotels which can cater to Iftar and sahour, mosques at walking distance from the hotels, availability of halal and multicultural food and probably also lectures in the mosques in Arabic for the Middle Eastern visitors.
ATN: Which destinations would you recommend as ideal places for Muslim travellers from the GCC to spend Ramadan?
Malaysia, Turkey, Singapore and Indonesia, all market themselves as Halal friendly / Ramadan friendly destinations. Most hotels in Indonesia and Malaysia will be providing special Iftar and sahour services. A few hotels in Singapore will also serve Sahour and Iftar.
In many other destinations there are a few hotels which will be providing these services. In London and some cities in Canada due to the strong local Muslim populations there will be places which the visitors can go for Iftar and Sahour although you may not find this in the hotels.
ATN: What has been the feedback to crescentrating.com?
We have had excellent feedback from both the industry and the consumers. We believe many hotels will be signing up with us in the next couple of months. As for consumers, the feedback has been overwhelming. They seem to love the approach of ours; both the rating concept as well as the information provided on our website.