SAO PAULO: The town of Foz do Iguaçu, a high journey vacation spot in Brazil, welcomed greater than 2 million guests in 2019, most of them drawn to the Iguaçu Falls, one of many largest waterfalls in South America.
After a dramatic decline in visits brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the town is making ready to turn into a halal vacationer heart and entice Muslims from all around the world.
The concept didn’t come from nowhere. A part of a tri-border space together with the neighboring cities of Puerto Iguazú in Argentina and Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, Foz do Iguaçu has an Arab inhabitants of 20,000 — about 7 % of its 260,000 inhabitants — lots of them Muslim. 1000’s of Arabs additionally reside on the Paraguayan aspect.
The Omar ibn Al-Khattab Mosque, a serious Islamic place of worship in Latin America, is probably the most seen signal of Arabs’ historic presence within the area.
Foz do Iguaçu has quite a few Arab-owned eating places and outlets, and the standard metropolis tour supplied by native journey guides consists of an “Arab itinerary.”
Ali Saifi, CEO of Cdial Halal, a halal certification firm in Brazil, mentioned: “These are nice benefits for us. There’s already a fantastic halal infrastructure to be able to serve the area people. We simply must take these ideas to inns, with the federal government’s assist.”
Saifi was one of many masterminds behind the challenge, and with a watch on the 1.9 billion Muslims worldwide, the town’s Mayor Chico Brasileiro promptly accepted the concept.
“Our metropolis has one of many world’s pure wonders, which will definitely entice many Muslims,” Brasileiro advised Arab Information.
“We wish to develop their permanency right here by making them feeling comfy with their households.”
Feeling comfy throughout worldwide journeys to non-Muslim nations could be arduous generally, mentioned native Sheikh Oussama El-Zahed.
“Meals is a serious concern when a Muslim travels overseas. Particularly after we’re with our households, we get very anxious about it. The concept right here is to supply a one hundred pc halal journey bundle,” he added.
After 21 years residing in Latin America, Moroccan-born Sheikh Abderrahman Agdaou is aware of very nicely the significance of getting halal meals obtainable whereas overseas.
“Many individuals in Latin America simply don’t assume that there’s pork in a number of widespread meals objects. The identical is true of alcohol,” he advised Arab Information.
Agdaou lived in Chile and Costa Rica earlier than settling in El Salvador in 2005. In these nations, he has all the time alerted Muslim communities that apparently innocent dishes equivalent to pupusas, the standard Salvadoran flatbread, might have been cooked in lard, which is created from pork fats. “You must be alert on a regular basis,” he mentioned.
Agdaou had bother with such points a number of occasions in Latin America. He recalled as soon as having no meals choices throughout a 14-hour-flight from Morocco to Chile in 2000.
“As I all the time do, I’d beforehand requested the airline for halal meals. I don’t know in the event that they failed to take action out of neglect or prejudice,” he mentioned, including that the creation of a halal vacationer vacation spot in Brazil is one thing to rejoice.
“I’m glad our Muslim brothers in South America are launching such a related initiative. Now we have a proper to be relaxed throughout our leisure time,” he mentioned.
Cdial Halal will supply coaching to Foz do Iguaçu’s tourism business staff in halal meals and in finest practices to welcome Muslims. Inns won’t solely have a halal menu, but in addition particular locations for Muslim prayers.
Tour agent Patrik Dinis, who presents an “Arab itinerary” to his shoppers in Foz do Iguaçu and Ciudad del Este, advised Arab Information: “Brazilian vacationers are very focused on attending to know the Arab tradition within the metropolis (Foz do Iguaçu). It’s seen in every single place, from the mosque to Arab faculties and girls sporting a headband on the streets.” Muslims will “really feel at house” in Foz do Iguaçu, he mentioned.
Felipe Gonzales, president of the town’s Tourism Council, believes that few modifications should be carried out.
“An important step is to get the certification and open that market. We wish to invite Muslims to be right here with their households, and even to rejoice weddings right here,” he mentioned.
Brasileiro mentioned he hopes for international funding, together with from Arab nations, in Foz do Iguaçu’s lodge chain.
“We offered our challenge in Dubai (Expo), and I’m certain buyers will come to our metropolis within the close to future,” he added.
Full implementation of the challenge might take a 12 months, Saifi mentioned, “however inside six months we’ll definitely have superior lots, and the variety of Muslim vacationers will develop.”
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