There’s no denying it: Muslim-friendly travel is growing.
At present, halal tourism accounts for 11 per cent of the global tourism industry. Valued at €140.7 million (about Dh632.6 million) in 2016, it’s set to grow to €284 million by 2022.
According to the Mastercard-HalalTrip Muslim Millennial Travel Report 2017, it was projected that total expenditure from Muslim millennial travellers as a segment will surpass $100 billion (Dh367 billion) by 2025. This segment consists of avid travellers who would travel two to five times a year for an average of four-to-six days per trip. Needless to say, Muslim-friendly travel and hospitality is big global business. And the Netherlands is one country in Europe that has become more accessible for Muslims in recent times — it’s set to host the European Halal Expo 2018 in June.
But just how Muslim-friendly is the Netherlands at present? Are options vast, or is there still a lot left to be desired. Here’s a look at the big four: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.
You can explore scenic canals and all manner of fascinating museums. Picture: Shutterstock
The capital may be known for some hedonistic offerings — we won’t go into detail here — but that doesn’t mean it’s a dull experience for the modern Muslim traveller. In fact, according to the Muslim travel website Halaltrip.com, Islam is the second-largest religion in the city. Needless to say, there are plenty of options catering to that particular segment.
Going out will never be a problem, as there are a lot of historical and cultural things to do throughout the day. As you walk through this city full of colour and picturesque houses, bridges and canals, there are plenty of landmarks to discover, including the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum.
Food In terms of dining, there are said to be more than 60 restaurants serving halal food, but as with any European city some restaurants make the claim without being able to provide certification, while others serve alcohol.
Popular eateries worth checking out include the Moroccan offering Arabic Lounge (Prins Hendrikkade 194, +31 20 627 9657); Addis Ababa (Overtoom 337, +31 20 618 4472), which specialises in Ethiopian cuisine, and Ali Ocakbasi (Herengracht 558, +31 20 233 4588) for Turkish. For pizza, head to Bella Riva (Rapenburgerplein 3, +31 20 4207710).
Hotels It’s rare to find 100 per cent halal hotels in the city, however, many cater to Muslim travellers, including Hotel Larende, Hotelboot Zwaan and Grand Hotel Downtown. They all serve a halal breakfast option. Also serving halal food is Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam Holy Dove, which prohibits smoking of any kind.
Mosques Amsterdam is home to many mosques, including Westermoskee Aya Sofya (the country’s largest), Al Karam Mosque, Al Hijra Mosque, Al Ummah Mosque and El Tawheed Mosque.
The historical Oude Haven docks area. Picture: Shutterstock
The Netherlands’ second-largest city is a mix of historic and modern architecture, offering an impressive skyline. The Euromast Observation tower is a must-visit.
Food Plenty of halal food can be found here. Bazar (Witte de Withstraat 16, +31 10 206 5151) is another Moroccan spot worth a visit, while Zainab Roshni Mahal (Nieuwe Binnenweg 317, +31 10 477 1244) is great for Indian. For a light bite, Grillig Sandwiches (Nieuwe Binnenweg 188D, +31 10 254 1002) has developed a reputation for having some of the best sandwiches in the city.
Hotels Bastion Hotel Rotterdam Alexander, Best Western Plus Rotterdam Airport Hotel and Bilderberg Parkhotel Rotterdam are all Muslim-friendly.
Mosques Not as many renowned ones as Amsterdam, but Rotterdam has the second-largest mosque in the Netherlands, Essalam Mosque.
Traditional houses along the Oudegracht (old canal). Utrecht is home to structures dating back to the High Middle Ages, as well as the country’s largest university. Picture: Shutterstock
Dubbed the ancient city, Utrecht is home to landmarks from the early middle ages and is also known for its beautiful canals, castles and churches. The Rietveld Schröderhuis, a Unesco Heritage Site, is considered one of the icons of the modern movement in architecture.
Food Not many here, but top ones we’ve come across are the Mediterranean cuisine Restaurant Saffraan (Oudegracht aan de Werf 146/148, +31 30 231 0114) and Helal Burgers & Shoarma (Kanaalstraat 56, +31 30 296 3767) for some fast food.
Hotels The Van der Valk Hotel Houten Utrecht offers Muslim-friendly amenities.
Mosques Masjids include Anwar-E-Qoeba, Es Salaam and Masjid Sayyidina Ibrahim.
The country’s oldest arcade, The Passage is recognised by Unesco. Picture: Shutterstock
This government city located near the North Sea coastline has many monuments and attractions, including the Binnenhof and The Peace Palace.
Food Great options are available here, including Baladi Manouche (Torenstraat 95, +31 70 444 3877) for a bit of Lebanese; Warung Mini (Amsterdamse Veerkade 57 /A, +31 70 365 4628), which serves up delicious Indonesian cuisine; and A Taste of Persia (Piet Heinstraat 8, +31 70 363 6459), which is self-explanatory.
Hotels Not as many as the aforementioned cities, but The Student Hotel The Hague caters to Muslim travellers.
Mosques There are three main mosques here: Mobarak Mosque — known as the Netherlands’ first purpose-built mosque — as well as Mescidi-Aksa Mosque and As-Soennah Mosque.