SAO PAULO: 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 getting ready to turn out to be a halal vacationer middle and appeal to Muslims from everywhere in the world.
The thought 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 p.c 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 essentially 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 provided 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 an ideal halal infrastructure as a way to serve the local people. We simply have to take these rules to motels, with the federal government’s assist.”
Saifi was one of many masterminds behind the undertaking, and with an eye fixed 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 appeal to many Muslims,” Brasileiro instructed Arab Information.
“We need to develop their permanency right here by making them feeling snug with their households.”
Feeling snug throughout worldwide journeys to non-Muslim nations could be onerous generally, mentioned native Sheikh Oussama El-Zahed.
“Meals is a serious concern when a Muslim travels overseas. Particularly once we’re with our households, we get very anxious about it. The thought right here is to supply a 100% halal journey package deal,” he added.
After 21 years dwelling in Latin America, Moroccan-born Sheikh Abderrahman Agdaou is aware of very properly the significance of getting halal meals accessible whereas overseas.
“Many individuals in Latin America simply don’t suppose that there’s pork in a number of frequent meals gadgets. The identical is true of alcohol,” he instructed 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 reminiscent of pupusas, the standard Salvadoran flatbread, could have been cooked in lard, which is made out of pork fats. “It’s important to be alert on a regular basis,” he mentioned.
Agdaou had hassle 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 have fun.
“I’m glad our Muslim brothers in South America are launching such a related initiative. We now 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 greatest practices to welcome Muslims. Resorts is not going to solely have a halal menu, but additionally particular locations for Muslim prayers.
Tour agent Patrik Dinis, who provides an “Arab itinerary” to his purchasers in Foz do Iguaçu and Ciudad del Este, instructed Arab Information: “Brazilian vacationers are very desirous about 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 ladies carrying a scarf on the streets.” Muslims will “really feel at dwelling” in Foz do Iguaçu, he mentioned.
Felipe Gonzales, president of the town’s Tourism Council, believes that few modifications should be carried out.
“A very powerful step is to get the certification and open that market. We need to invite Muslims to be right here with their households, and even to have fun weddings right here,” he mentioned.
Brasileiro mentioned he hopes for overseas funding, together with from Arab nations, in Foz do Iguaçu’s lodge chain.
“We introduced our undertaking in Dubai (Expo), and I’m certain traders will come to our metropolis within the close to future,” he added.
Full implementation of the undertaking could take a yr, Saifi mentioned, “however inside six months we’ll definitely have superior quite a bit, and the variety of Muslim vacationers will develop.”
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