Young Muslims to drive $300 billion boom in Islamic travel: study

Spending on travel during 2016 for young Muslims was at around $55 billion. (AFP)
Updated 26 October 2017
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Young Muslims to drive $300 billion boom in Islamic travel: study

SINGAPORE: Young Muslims worldwide are expected to almost double their spending on travel in the coming years, driving a boom in Islamic tourism that will make the sector worth $300 billion, a study said Thursday.
Halal travel has grown in recently, with airports, restaurants and hotels seeking to provide Muslim-friendly facilities and services, such as prayer rooms and halal food outlets.
Fazal Bahardeen, chief executive of Islamic travel specialist HalalTrip, which carried out the study with Mastercard, said older Muslims typically travel in large families once a year while young Muslims, aged 20 to 36, take multiple trips.
“Travel within this young generation of Muslims is booming as consumers with more disposable income seek more exotic experiences and far-flung destinations than their parents,” said Fazal.
“Their per trip expenditure could be lower than the earlier generation but since they make multiple trips per year, their overall expenditure is higher.”
Fazal said that within the next five to 10 years, many Muslims would be entering the stage of their lives where they earn, spend and travel the most.
Spending on travel during 2016 for young Muslims was at around $55 billion, while the total Muslim travel segment was worth $156 billion, he added.
The figures are expected to increase respectively to $100 billion by 2025 and $300 billion by 2026, the study said.
The research comes at a time when more countries are eyeing a share of the burgeoning Muslim travel market.
Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Turkey are the biggest source of young Muslim travelers in the Islamic world, it said.
A growing number of young Muslims from Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, Egypt and Kazakhstan are also traveling more frequently, it added.


Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

Updated 19 April 2018
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Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

  • Cliffs in Tuwaiq were formed as a result of the movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift
  • Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site

Thrill seekers and fitness gurus all over the Kingdom will be pleased to know that their choices for weekend activities have increased. 

Several tour operators in Riyadh have started offering trips to the area known as the Edge of the World, making the location more accessible than ever.

With the country’s obesity rates on the rise and many citizens growing more concerned about their physical health and stress levels, people are seeking ways to maintain their fitness without having to restrict themselves to the monotony of a gym routine.

One such solution that has steadily increased in popularity over the past year is hiking, which many have embraced as being much more exciting and fulfilling than spending hours on the treadmill. And most popular of all for hiking and other fitness activities in a natural setting is the magnificent landmark of Jabal Fihrayn, more commonly known as the Edge of the World.

Described as a “window framed by rock,” the Edge of the World offers stunning views of the valley below, a lush grove of acacia trees teeming with wildlife and vegetation. The spot is well-known for being a favorite of visiting picnickers.

Hikers can choose from several trails of varying levels of difficulty, making their way to the top of the Tuwaiq escarpment to take in the magnificent views at the top of the trail, where the colossal cliff faces drop off to reveal the dizzying height from the valley below. In addition to the rich wildlife unique to the location, you can also find samples of fossilized coral and raw mineral deposits in certain areas of the valley.

The cliffs in the areas were formed as a result of the tectonic movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift situated 1,000 km to the west of Tuwaiq.

Due to the increasing popularity of the site, the authorities have built a hardtop that leads to the gates of the sites and arrangements are in place to protect the area and its natural treasures. 

Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site. The more intrepid explorer also has the option to go alone; though past visitors recommend that solo travelers take an all-terrain, 4x4 vehicle and extra precaution. Visitors can spend the day at the site and leave before 6 p.m. (when the gates are closed for the night) or stay behind for a night of camping to enjoy the sunset and the breathtaking celestial views of a star-studded night sky.

Nora Alfard, amateur hiking enthusiast and two-time visitor to the location, was quick to offer praise about her trip. 

“The trip out there was a bit tiring, but totally worth it,” she said. “The views are stunning, and the hiking itself is not that difficult. Most people should be able to make it to the top without too much trouble.” She said she was likely to go a third time, and encouraged others to do the same.

The Edge of the World is roughly 100km northwest of Riyadh, about 1.5 hours’ drive from the capital. Visitors should be prepared for at least 30 minutes of hiking, possibly more depending on your trail and your level of fitness and experience. Previous visitors recommend bringing water and snacks, and stress the importance of dressing appropriately — hiking shoes only!

Decoder

What is hiking?

Hiking means a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails in the countryside. Day hikers generally carry at least food, a map or a GPS navigation device.