Mother-of-three Zaibun Nisa Butt, her husband Kyle and their children Juwayria, 13, and Al-Layth, 11, scan travel websites before their coming holiday. "You don't tend to find halal hotels much," she says.
Mother-of-three Zaibun Nisa Butt, her husband Kyle and their children Juwayria, 13, and Al-Layth, 11, scan travel websites before their coming holiday. "You don't tend to find halal hotels much," she

How to put the halal in your holiday

With temperatures north of 40°C and long school breaks approaching, much of the nation is focused on the summer holidays. But for as long as one Muslim family in Abu Dhabi can remember, getting away from it all has not always been what it ought to be.

Just when they should be preparing to relax, kick back and enjoy their time together, they find themselves worrying instead about keeping their holiday halal. The primary concern, year in year out, is food. "We went to France three years ago," said Freya Jaffar, a mother of two. "We're a family of four, and we spent a whole week just eating vegetarian food. It took the buzz out of the holiday." Her husband, Mansoor, faces the same problem when travelling for business. "Like all of us, he just goes veggie. But you can't live on a piece of bread for 12 days, so sometimes he caves in and has a burger."

Mrs Jaffar wishes she could enjoy facilities such as the swimming pool when on holiday. But modesty concerns prevent her. "I wish there were separate facilities for women, like ladies' hours in the pool," she said. "I could go with my two children then. With the alcohol thing, it's pretty easy. We just avoid it altogether. But it really would be nice to use the hotel's facilities when we travel." An emerging market in halal tourism is capitalising on the rising number of Muslim travellers like the Jaffars. The global halal food market has been estimated at more than US$500 billion (Dh1.8 trillion), while demand for halal products tops $2 trillion. And the global population of Muslims continues to grow: a study last year from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in the US put the number at 1.57 billion, or 23 per cent of the world's population.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board is one body that has been boosting its halal tourism efforts by working closely with local restaurants. In the first four months of the year, the board reports the number of tourists from Muslim countries was up 13.4 per cent from the previous year. A growing number of airports have introduced prayer rooms, while most airlines offer their guests halal meal options. Several years ago, Les Rosiers in the French Alps became one of the first ski resorts to serve halal food. Walt Disney World Resort in the US is another destination striving to accommodate Muslim visitors.

"We do have a few kosher meal offerings that are halal certified," said Todd Heiden, public relations director at the resort in Orlando, Florida. "We also have a few items that can be specially ordered - lamb, beef, chicken and goat - but we must know where the guest will be dining so the chef can find out what items to bring in." Travellers can increasingly turn to the internet for help with planning. This month two halal travel-oriented websites formed a strategic alliance:, which rates travel and tourism services and hotels, and, an Islamic travel portal for outbound travellers from the Middle East that was launched in Dubai in April. considers the specific needs of the halal-conscious traveller, such as prayer facilities, halal food, options for family-friendly facilities and friendliness of the environment, to issue ratings on a scale of one to seven., an Arabic site, provides information on tourist attractions, shopping, prayer timings, mosque locations and halal restaurants in more than 70 cities.

In March Karim Saad, a 27-year-old Austrian-Egyptian, launched The site features hotel reviews, a "mosque of the week" and posted a guide for people travelling to South Africa for the World Cup, directing Muslim travellers to an all-halal hotel in Cape Town. "There's a growing number of highly educated Muslims in Europe looking to travel," said Mr Saad. "My target is that one day, we can list every country in the world. And if you are really keen on travelling within a halal environment, our website is a good start."

Zaibun Nisa Butt, a 35-year-old mother of three from Abu Dhabi, said new tools could mean more adventurous holidays for her family. "It would make the whole process easier and means you can still mingle with others in non-Muslim countries," she said. "I would be much more comfortable. You don't tend to find halal hotels much. If you try to keep everything all-Muslim, you end up feeling like you are in a bubble."

The UAE's own halal market is already fairly developed, but officials say they are working on ideas to attract more Muslim tourists. "Although often referred to as a niche product, the potential is obvious," said Lawrence Franklin, policy director at the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. Sectors of the industry from accommodation to travel agencies are actively responding. In Abu Dhabi, the Hala Arjaan by Rotana and the Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan city resort are considered halal. Rotana plans to launch the alcohol-free Hili Rayhaan in Al Ain by the end of this year. In Dubai, there are 87 alcohol-free hotels.

Mohamed al Noman, director of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, said demand for Islamic hotels was increasing rapidly. "The Islamic values of honesty, courtesy and hospitality touch all aspects of life, and charm visitors during their stay."

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices


Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 750hp at 7,500rpm
Torque: 800Nm at 5,500rpm
Transmission: 7 Speed dual-clutch auto
Top speed: 332kph
Fuel consumption: 12.2L/100km
On sale: Year end
Price: From Dh1,430,000 (coupe); From Dh1,566,000 (Spider)


Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded


Southampton 0
Manchester City 1
(Sterling 16')

Man of the match: Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Torbal Rayeh Wa Jayeh
Starring: Ali El Ghoureir, Khalil El Roumeithy, Mostafa Abo Seria
Stars: 3


Director: Abu Bakr Shawky 

Starring: Omar Alatawi, Tulin Essam, Ibrahim Al-Hasawi 

Rating: 4/5


Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Keep it fun and engaging

Stuart Ritchie, director of wealth advice at AES International, says children cannot learn something overnight, so it helps to have a fun routine that keeps them engaged and interested.

“I explain to my daughter that the money I draw from an ATM or the money on my bank card doesn’t just magically appear – it’s money I have earned from my job. I show her how this works by giving her little chores around the house so she can earn pocket money,” says Mr Ritchie.

His daughter is allowed to spend half of her pocket money, while the other half goes into a bank account. When this money hits a certain milestone, Mr Ritchie rewards his daughter with a small lump sum.

He also recommends books that teach the importance of money management for children, such as The Squirrel Manifesto by Ric Edelman and Jean Edelman.

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Engine: 6-cylinder 3-litre, with petrol and diesel variants
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Power: 286hp (petrol), 249hp (diesel)
Torque: 450Nm (petrol), 550Nm (diesel)
Price: Starting at $69,800
On sale: Now

Company profile

Name: Fruitful Day

Founders: Marie-Christine Luijckx, Lyla Dalal AlRawi, Lindsey Fournie

Based: Dubai, UAE

Founded: 2015

Number of employees: 30

Sector: F&B

Funding so far: Dh3 million

Future funding plans: None at present

Future markets: Saudi Arabia, potentially Kuwait and other GCC countries

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home. 

The UAE Today

The latest news and analysis from the Emirates

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      The UAE Today