SAO PAULO: The town of Foz do Iguaçu, a prime 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 middle and entice 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 — a lot of them Muslim. 1000’s of Arabs additionally dwell on the Paraguayan facet.
The Omar ibn Al-Khattab Mosque, a significant 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 provided by native journey guides contains an “Arab itinerary.”
Ali Saifi, CEO of Cdial Halal, a halal certification firm in Brazil, stated: “These are nice benefits for us. There’s already an excellent halal infrastructure with a view to serve the area people. We simply must take these ideas to resorts, with the federal government’s assist.”
Saifi was one of many masterminds behind the mission, 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 informed Arab Information.
“We wish to broaden their permanency right here by making them feeling comfy with their households.”
Feeling comfy throughout worldwide journeys to non-Muslim nations may be exhausting typically, stated native Sheikh Oussama El-Zahed.
“Meals is a significant concern when a Muslim travels overseas. Particularly after we’re with our households, we get very anxious about it. The thought 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 accessible whereas overseas.
“Many individuals in Latin America simply don’t suppose that there’s pork in a number of frequent meals objects. The identical is true of alcohol,” he informed 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 corresponding to pupusas, the standard Salvadoran flatbread, could have been cooked in lard, which is constructed from pork fats. “You must be alert on a regular basis,” he stated.
Agdaou had bother with such points a number of instances 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 stated, 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. We now have a proper to be relaxed throughout our leisure time,” he stated.
Cdial Halal will supply coaching to Foz do Iguaçu’s tourism business staff in halal meals and in finest practices to welcome Muslims. Motels is not going to solely have a halal menu, but in addition particular locations for Muslim prayers.
Tour agent Patrik Dinis, who gives an “Arab itinerary” to his purchasers in Foz do Iguaçu and Ciudad del Este, informed Arab Information: “Brazilian vacationers are very eager 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 girls carrying a scarf on the streets.” Muslims will “really feel at house” in Foz do Iguaçu, he stated.
Felipe Gonzales, president of the town’s Tourism Council, believes that few adjustments 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 stated.
Brasileiro stated he hopes for international funding, together with from Arab nations, in Foz do Iguaçu’s resort chain.
“We introduced our mission in Dubai (Expo), and I’m positive traders will come to our metropolis within the close to future,” he added.
Full implementation of the mission could take a yr, Saifi stated, “however inside six months we’ll definitely have superior rather a lot, and the variety of Muslim vacationers will develop.”
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