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Islamic Lifestyle
New collaborations to tap into luxury and under-30 modest fashion segments

Global online fashion retailers to launch new modest fashion collections focusing on sustainability and aimed at Middle Eastern markets.

 

Dubai: British-Portuguese online luxury fashion retailer Farfetch and London-based boutique Browns are set to launch one of the largest modest fashion collections this spring, specifically designed with the Middle Eastern market in mind.

The collaboration brings an assortment of 35 modest fashion capsule collections to the market with the 182-piece collection spanning women’s’ wear, men’s wear, kids’ wear, and fine jewellery. It will launch throughout April and May in time for Ramadan and Eid.

The curation features a mix of established and emerging designers including 16Arlington (UK), L’Afshar (United Arab Emirates – UAE), Marine Serre (France), Nanushka (Hungary), Anouki (Georgia) and Taller Marmo (UAE).

The collection’s campaign is a “celebration of modesty, showcasing its many interpretations, as represented in the breadth of this exclusive edit,” Farfetch said in a statement.

The campaign was shot in the UAE, one of the top five modest-fashion exporters to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) region, according to the State of the Global Islamic Economy (SGIE) Report 2022.

This is not the first time Farfetch has launched a Ramadan collection. In April 2021 the luxury fashion marketplace, which sells products from over 2,000 brands, launched a capsule collection for Ramadan in collaboration with 30 designers.

Modest fashion continues to grow in popularity with new mainstream offerings and expansions across non-Muslim countries. The SGIE Report 2022 valued the global modest fashion industry at$295 billion and expects it to grow at a 6.1% four-year compound average growth rate (CAGR) to reach $375 billion by 2025.

 

See - Infographic SGIE 2022: Modest fashion

 

The largest markets for modest fashion include Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia with strong growth predicted for countries such as Indonesia and Pakistan.

In addition to providing ample opportunities for luxury brands, the modest fashion industry offers unexplored niche market segments such as modest clothing aimed at the younger generation. Modestwist, a UK based online retailer that provides trend-driven and affordable modest clothing to Muslim millennials, is one of the few brands catering to this niche segment.

The company launched in September 2021 and was named by the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund as a Top 36 Fashion Startup.

 

Designs by Tbilisi-based Anouki feature in Farfetch-Browns' modest fashion collection campaign (Courtesy: Farfetch).

 

One of the latest global brands to expand into the modest fashion segment is Boohoo. The British online fashion retailer, aimed at 16- to 30-year-olds, announced in February it was launching a modest fashion line designed by Sameera Mohmed.

The final-year fashion design student won a national competition launched by Boohoo and Graduate Fashion Week to find upcoming talents to design a more sustainable commercial range for the retailer. Participants were tasked with designing four complete outfits with the winner having their collection sold on boohoo.com and receiving a £3,000 ($3900) cash prize.

Sameera’s collection featured coordinated suits and tracksuits, modest swimwear, satin dresses and oversized poplin dresses, and uses recycled polyester, linen and nylon.

Based on her winning designs, the 20-year-old will work with Boohoo designers to develop a spring/summer range to be launched in London this June.

“The concept for my collection is to create a diverse, more sustainable and modest collection catering to all women of different races and beliefs,” Sameera said in an interview with Boohoo.

The collection will complement Boohoo’s existing modest fashion offering that includes around 60 affordable options ranging from maxi-dresses and long-sleeve tops, to jumpsuits and coats.

© SalaamGateway.com 2022. All Rights Reserved

Islamic Lifestyle
Newswrap: Islamic lifestyle

New York launches a halal travel guide; Philippines promotes Mindanao; UAE and Malaysia bolster medical tourism; 25 million visit Istanbul’s Grand Çamlıca Mosque; and Saudi Arabian Airlines launches business divisions, B2B travel solutions.

 

New York launches USA's first official halal travel guide

The official travel marketing bureau for New York, NYC & Company, has launched a Halal Travel Guide for guides and tourists. It is the first such guide released by a US tourism organisation, reported Breaking Travel News. Created in conjunction with Halal Trip/Crescent Rating, the guide highlights halal certified restaurants, Muslim history and art exhibitions, and tips and advice from Muslim travel experts. New York has more than 275 mosques spread across the five boroughs.

“We are proud to launch this all-new travel resource celebrating the incredibly rich and diverse Muslim travel experiences found in New York City,” said Fred Dixon, President and CEO at NYC & Company. “The Muslim community has been an integral part of the fabric of our City for nearly 400 years and we are committed to showcasing the authentic Halal offerings and more found across the five boroughs.”

Philippines promotes Mindanao

Philippines’ tourism department has launched a promotional campaign, Colours of Mindanao, to highlight the cultural and touristic attractions of the Muslim-majority island in the south. The campaign also highlights Muslim-friendly tourism, reported the Sun Star. The colours campaign represents a tourism segment, “with blue for dive tourism, teal for sun and beach, green for ecotourism, brown for farm tourism, violet for culture and heritage, red for adventure and sports tourism, orange for food tourism and yellow for faith tourism.”

UAE and Malaysia bolster medical tourism

European Wellness Academie, the Malaysian subsidiary of European Wellness Biomedical Group, entered into a partnership with Dubai-based AK International, a healthcare distribution and technology firm, to bolster health tourism links, particularly in chronic degenerative conditions and untreatable rare diseases, reported Laing Busson.

The partnership is to developed a “technology-driven digital wellness service ‘corridor’, to seamlessly connect UAE patients with healthcare service providers in Malaysia,” while two centres of excellence will be established in the Emirates. The tie-up will also explore the potential development of a halal hub for biotechnology and regenerative medicine in the Iskandar Malaysia Development Area in Johor.

25 million visit Istanbul’s Grand Çamlıca Mosque

Istanbul’s Grand Mosque of Çamlıca, which opened three years ago, has attracted 25 million visitors, reported Daily Sabah. Construction started in 2013, with the mosque a combination of Seljuk and and Ottoman architecture. It houses the recently opened Museum of Islamic Civilisations, eight art workshops, an art gallery, a conference hall, and a library with 50,000 books. The museum opened at the beginning of Ramadan, and has attracted 150,000 people. It includes 800 pieces of Islamic art, and has 15 thematic sections.

Saudi Arabian Airlines launches business divisions, B2B travel solutions

Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) launched the all-new rebranded business division for the airline, SAUDIA Business, specialising in B2B travel solutions for corporate, agency and MICE clients at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2022 in Dubai, according to a press release. SAUDIA Business provides unique solutions for each travel requirement for a diverse range of beneficiaries, including corporations, travel agencies, and event organisers. The new account management department will streamline the booking process and support corporate travel through a seamless online platform with multiple functions and tools to serve SAUDIA’s business clients from A to Z. SAUDIA Business will have a dedicated meetings and events team that assists with specific corporate travel needs and event organisation worldwide. The new division will serve and support clients with busy schedules who frequently go on business trips, whether for meetings, incentive travel, conventions, or exhibitions (MICE).

 

Islamic Lifestyle
Muzmatch rebrands following trademark infringement case loss

In an exclusive interview with Salaam Gateway, Shahzad Younas, CEO and founder of Muzz, believes despite the legal loss, the rebranding and new app will benefit the Muslim-focused tech firm.

 

London: UK-based Muslim dating and marriage app Muzmatch has rebranded to Muzz and unveiled a new app following last month’s loss in a trademark infringement lawsuit against US-based Match Group in the UK patent courts.

“Muzz is simple. It’s catchy; it’s memorable. More importantly, it is a powerful brand as we look beyond solely Muslim dating/marriage. It was actually fairly obvious what the new brand would be – and is something we had mentally explored over two years ago. If anything, losing the legal case merely sped up our plans,” he said.

Among the features in the new app are voice and video profiles as well as better search filters. Younas highlighted the firm has made hundreds of small improvements throughout the app, adding it had already removed the app’s swiping gesture.

Muzmatch began trading in 2011 and was officially launched in 2015. However, last month the company lost its legal battle against Nasdaq-listed Match in the UK Intellectual Property and Enterprise Court (IPEC).

 

Read -
Dating app Muzmatch loses trademark infringement case

 

Match’s portfolio includes Tinder, Hinge and OkCupid and the company filed its lawsuit against Muzmatch in late 2021. The case included a two-day court hearing in January from both parties.

Younas plans to file an application to appeal later this month and said any damages to Match regarding trademark infringement would be formalised in the post-appeal period. The UK’s IPEC lawsuit was not the first time Match had lobbied legal action against the Muslim-focused tech firm.

In March 2021 Match filed a suit in the US (Waco/Texas) alleging patent infringement against Muzmatch. Both parties settled in October 2021 and Muzmatch made subsequent changes to its app in November that year.

Grassroots support

Younas said the rebrand and new app, launched on 5 May, had already received a warm reception.

“We’ve had record downloads/signups and activity on the new app … it marks a new chapter in our journey and I’ve been personally overwhelmed with the messages,” he said, adding it was important to defend the product against larger conglomerates.

“(Unfortunately), the bigger we get, the more successful we get, the bigger conglomerates will go after us by any means necessary,” he said. “It is a sad reality of the capitalist model. Thankfully we have built a solid business and have the resources to fight such attempts.”

Looking ahead

Backed by a $9 million seed and series A investment from a range of Silicon Valley and global investors, Younas said the company would not change its shareholder structure nor was it “in a rush to secure new financing”.

“We will seek to raise (capital) as and when necessary. We’ve run the business in a disciplined manner and hence have the funds to get through this rebrand and implications of losing the case,” he said.

Since its 2015 launch, the company has experienced impressive growth and claims to have more than 6 million members globally. It has a presence in the UK, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey and claims to have led to over 200,000 successes.

Younas said he was keen to build on this growth and help Muslims find their spouses. Looking to the next five years, he questioned how the business could help Muslims globally not only find their partners, but become the place where Muslims met.

“The app is already global (15 languages) with global users and revenue. We’ll be looking to continue the fast pace of growth.”

© SalaamGateway.com 2022. All Rights Reserved

Islamic Lifestyle
Botswana eyes high-spending Middle East tourists as it gears up for peak season

Botswana is looking to attract more Middle Eastern tourists as it prepares for its busiest season starting in May. Yet, how ready is the southern African nation to cater for the unique requirements of Muslim visitors?

 

Botswana boasts some of the world’s most pristine safari experiences, offering dramatic wildlife encounters, picturesque landscapes and off-grid vacations.

It is also home to the world’s largest elephant population and has two United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites – Tsodilo Hills with the rock-art filled spiritual sites and the Okavango Delta, an untouched freshwater wetland surprisingly situated in a desert.

While Botswana’s high-value, low-volume tourism escapades are a major attraction, it lacks Muslim-friendly facilities and hotels – understandable in a country where Muslims are a minority. The Humanitarian and Social Research Centre (INSAMER) estimates Muslims make up between two and three percent of Botswana’s 2 million population.

This small population is concentrated in the capital city Gaborone; thus, the majority of halal restaurants are located there. According to the Botswana Muslim Association, there are 44 halal-certified restaurants as of April 2022, almost all located in Gaborone.

Many of Botswana’s Muslims are of South Asian origin and this is reflected in the halal cuisine options available.

Muslim friendliness

While hotels with halal-friendly facilities are rare, there are 21 mosques spread across the country, according to the latest edition of Historical Dictionary of Botswana (2018).

“Gaborone has mosques and I have observed Muslims going for their prayer on Fridays. Most own stores and they close for that period for prayer,” Bokani Mathape, founder and president of Women in Tourism Botswana, told Salaam Gateway.

She added she had not seen any discrimination with regards to Muslim dress codes and workplaces and schools were very accommodative of hijabs. Women in Botswana also dress quite conservatively and thus modestly dressed female tourists would be a familiar sight.

Moreover, because the peak safari season occurs during the cold African winter, everyone is modestly dressed on game drives.

“Botswana is generally a peaceful country; I haven’t witnessed intolerance towards any religion,” said Mathape.

The Global Peace Index 2021 ranked Botswana as Africa’s third most peaceful country and 41st global, ahead of Greece and France.

 

The deserts of Botswana (Courtesy: Botswana Tourism Organisation)

 

Managing in lodges

However, finding halal food in safari lodges – the heart of Botswana’s travel experience – is not as easy as in the capital.

“Most of Botswana’s safari camps do not offer halal meals”, Mandy Van Graan, content manager at Go2Africa, told Salaam Gateway.

The Cape Town-based tour operator offers halal-friendly safaris in the continent, but has received only one enquiry related to halal food in Botswana over the years.

Safari lodges also lack qibla pointers for Muslim prayer, but this is easily solved as many of these properties have WiFi. This means visitors can download a qibla app, according to Mariam Ngoyi, an African safari expert with Go2Africa.

She said Muslim tourists need to carry portable prayer mats as most lodges would not be able to provide one.

For Muslim female tourists wishing to swim, the only option would be booking with one of the few lodges with private pools, such as the Duba Plains Suites and the Zarafa Dhow Suite. Both tented villas are in northern Botswana and, as private retreats, are on the higher end of the price scale.

 

Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, situated in the middle of the dry savanna of north-eastern Botswana (Courtesy: Botswana Tourism Organisation).

Promoting tourism

Like other southern African countries, Botswana benefits from a seasonal advantage as its moderate winter (May to October) offers an ideal escape during the Middle East’s hot summer months. However, there is room to attract more Muslim travellers with the 2022 Global Muslim Travel Index by Crescentrating and Mastercard featuring 19 African destinations for Muslim travellers during Ramadan.

Botswana was not among them.

The index was calculated based on convenience, comfort and ease of travel – and not from the perspective of Islamic spiritual rewards.

Botswana is keen to change this and increase interest in the destination among Middle East travellers. One month after the reopening borders for international visitors, the Botswana Tourism Organisation hosted a series of events in Dubai to promote the country’s tourism potential and investment opportunities.

The Botswana Tourism Month, held throughout January 2022, included a conference, press briefings and business-to-business (B2B) meetings during Expo 2020 Dubai.

“The Middle East is an emerging market for Botswana; there is no sufficient data on the psychographic, demographic and geographic characteristics of this market, particularly in the context of Africa and mainly Botswana,” Keitumetse Setlang, executive marketing manager at Botswana Tourism Organisation, told Salaam Gateway.

However, a desktop review has shown its potential as a lucrative market worth penetrating, she said.

“The review pointed to a high propensity to travel by the market, owing to its gross domestic product which is at 5.3%, higher than the world average 4.1%. This indicates a higher buying power and a resultant higher disposable income.”

Botswana recently became more accessible with the launch of an e-visa platform in August 2021, enabling foreign nationals to apply online and have a decision on their application within five hours. This is a vast improvement on the previous seven- to 14-day process that was only possible through diplomatic missions.

While the number of Middle Eastern travellers to Botswana is currently low, Setlang noted there was some growth.

“With a heightened desire for adventure, visitors are now trickling back into Botswana with a newfound purpose guided by a host of COVID-19 protocols and safety measures. It is with great optimism that we now look towards 2022 and the return to some kind of normalcy,” she said.

© SalaamGateway.com 2022. All Rights Reserved

Islamic Lifestyle
Ramadan prompted Muslims to target Zakat alms on Ukrainian refugees

Russo-Ukrainian War has prompted the largest European refugee crisis since World War II.

 

Muslims have been considering how their Zakat charitable obligations during Ramadan could deliver an obligation to support Muslim refugees from Ukraine, forced from their home by the Russian invasion.

The war has prompted the largest refugee crises Europe has experienced this century, outweighing the impact of the Syrian civil war. According to the most recent figures from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), more than 4 million refugees have fled to bordering countries and over 2 million Ukrainians have been displaced internally since Russian military forces invaded on February 24.

With Ramadan this year occurring concurrently with the conflict, some Muslims have been supporting Ukrainian refugees as part of their Zakat almsgiving duties that are often a focus during the holy month.

Under Zakat, Muslims must make an annual payment comprising 2.5% (one-fortieth) of their wealth (income and possessions) to assist the poor. These are often targeted on local needy people, but the administration of Zakat varies around the world, said Zenobia Ismail, a research fellow at the University of Birmingham’s International Development Department. “There are not many rules on how it is collected. Some people give to their local mosque or community group, while others give to Islamic charities like Islamic Relief Worldwide (based in the UK), Muslim Hands (also UK-based) or Gift of the Givers (in South Africa),” she said.

As a result, some Islamic almsgiving is helping fund Ukrainian refugee programmes, including those supporting the country’s minority Muslim population and the indigenous Crimean Tatars, who fled the peninsular after it was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Muslim Hands prepared Ramadan Iftar food packs for refugees breaking their daily Ramadan fast at sunset, in addition to other emergency aid. In early March 2022 it deployed a team with another UK-based Muslim non-government organisation (NGO) Al-Khair Foundation to Poland and Romania. Its members were charged with conducting a rapid-needs assessment of refugees arriving in these countries and are currently distributing aid in the Polish cities of Warsaw, Kraków and Katowice.

Emergency aid packs consist of a month’s worth of food for a family as well as blankets and hygiene kits, said Muslim Hands UK’s fundraising director Yasrab Shah.

“With the need so great, we will continue with this vital work during Ramadan and provide emergency food packs as well as hot meals that are halal, but also in line with the Ukrainian diet,” Shah told Salaam Gateway.

To date, Muslim Hands has distributed 600 emergency food packs (all halal) that have reached over 4,000 beneficiaries. When considering both its initial response and its Ramadan distribution, the NGO will have distributed ₤50,000 ($65,000) worth of aid, it said.

The Nottingham-based NGO collects and distributes Zakat globally, as well as other forms of Muslim alms such as voluntary Sadaqat and general charity.

While most fleeing refugees are women and children, there are also foreign workers and students among those seeking refuge in Poland and other bordering countries. These include Muslims from central Asian countries like Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan who face passing Ramadan 2022 displaced in another country, said Muslim Hands UK.

It estimates 5-10% of those fleeing the conflict are Muslims.

Ukraine has a relatively small, yet multinational, Muslim population. The most recent figures available from a 2018 survey conducted by the Ukrainian non-governmental public policy think tank Razumkov Centre found Islam represented about 2.5% of Ukraine’s 44 million people.

The capital city Kyiv is home to an estimated 100,000 practising Muslims from Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan as well as the Crimean Tatars, who have lived in that region for centuries. Many are staunch opponents of Russia; about 10% of the then 250,000 Crimean Tatars voluntarily moved to Kherson, a city in southern Ukraine, or Kyiv from the peninsula following Russia’s 2014 annexation.

More recently Ukraine has also become home to a growing number of Russian-origin Muslims, mainly from the North Caucasus region, due to the growing tensions there with Russia’s central government.

The potential for Zakat to aid these Muslim refugees and war victims is immense given the Islamic Development Bank recently estimated annual Zakat contributions amount to around $300 billion across the Islamic world.

It is an important source of funding for large Muslim humanitarian organisations. The bigger Muslim charities function like charitable organisation Oxfam International and can use Zakat funds combined with other sources for humanitarian work, Ismail said.

Muslim Hands was created in 1993 in response to a previous European crisis harming Muslims, specifically the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and thus has had an international scope from its beginning, Shah said.

“We are grateful to see how our donor base has generously responded to the Ukrainian crisis, giving tens of thousands of pounds. We hope this will continue during Ramadan and to all our other campaigns that aim to help those in desperate need,” said Shah.

Turkish NGO Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) has also been at the forefront of international aid, reaching the needy in 123 countries including Ukraine's Crimean Tatars. It is providing support to Ukrainian citizens within conflict zones as well as in bordering countries where refugees have fled.

Relief ranges from food and blankets to medical supplies including distributing some 2,000 loaves of bread daily and Iftar food packages during Ramadan.

“Because the Turkish people have always demonstrated their sensitivity in standing up for the oppressed, they have shown the required care in the Ukrainian crisis and have not shied away from offering any assistance they can. Since this sensitivity increases during Ramadan, we can predict they will help the people of Ukraine more,” said an IHH spokesperson.

IHH collects and distributes Zakat for humanitarian purposes, but the sole beneficiaries of these funds are poor Muslims, he said. However, since other alms, such as Sadaqat and general charity, can be given to non-Muslims, he believes IHH donors will not forget non-Muslim Ukrainian people in their general almsgiving.

“We are obliged to spend Zakat in places where people send it and to fulfil this trust in the most reliable way. For this reason, we can say the aid given to the oppressed in Ukraine will generally consist of charity and aid,” the spokesperson told Salaam Gateway.

Due to the high levels of poverty in many Middle Eastern countries, most Zakat donations and charity aid this Ramadan probably came from wealthier Muslims in Europe, the spokesperson said.

“Unfortunately, many Muslim countries have long struggled with poverty, civil war, famine and occupation. Despite these difficult conditions, Muslims who have a good economic situation try to help people in need in the world without discrimination,” the spokesperson noted.

© SalaamGateway.com 2022. All Rights Reserved

Islamic Lifestyle
Indonesia modest wear segment boosted during Ramadan

The holy month proved particularly profitable for retailers as the government allows people to return to home towns this year.

 

Jakarta: Indonesian modest wear sellers experienced a 30% hike in demand for the festive Eid al-Fitr with sellers in traditional markets, malls and modern retail facilities benefitting from the relaxed government travel restrictions.

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in 2020, the Indonesian government will allow people mudik, the Indonesian term for the activity whereby migrants or migrant workers return to their hometown or village during or before major holidays, especially Eid al-Fitr.

Anggiasari Mawardi, owner of Anggia Handmade, said through the Bandung-based boutique and her online channel, her modest wear products sold was 30% higher compared to Ramadan last year. 

“Our daily volume transactions have doubled from last year. People are buying robes and scarves not only for themselves, but also for their relatives, considering they will perform mudik this year,” she said.

Millions of Indonesian Muslims, particularly in heavily populated Java, have been allowed to head home to reunite with families and relatives to celebrate the national holiday for the first time since the start of the pandemic. This comes as the government believes the pandemic has been brought under control.

Fajar Sulaiman, a seller in traditional market Tanah Abang, added his revenue had increased 35% during Ramadan this year. He sells prayers clothes from Muslim caps to sarongs, koko T-shirts and prayer mats. His items sell between $1.40 and $55.20 and he sells an average 100 pieces a day. He earns an average $413.60 daily and it traditionally increases in the last week of Ramadan, the peak season.

“Ramadan this year is different. More people are visiting the market and buying clothes – maybe because the government has lifted the ban on mudik, easing social restrictions and allowing people to perform prayer in mosques,” he said.

Tuty Adib, owner of Bilqis, told Salaam Gateway her revenue during Ramadan this year was “far better” compared to the previous year, translating to about a 30% growth. Adib runs boutiques in Jakarta and Solo with consumers typically visiting the stores seeking a specific collection and size.

“They just want to make sure and try it in the fitting room. This year, aside from online channels, more consumers come to our boutiques … we make sure our boutique, clothes and fitting rooms are always hygienic,” she said.

© SalaamGateway.com 2022. All Rights Reserved

Islamic Lifestyle
Newswrap: Islamic lifestyle

A summary of the latest Islamic lifestyle news from around the world.

 

Cinemas expand in Saudi Arabia

In 2018, Saudi Arabia lifted a 35 year ban on cinemas. As of 2022, there are 57 cinemas in 16 cities, with more than 500 screens, reported Variety. Cinema admissions have surged from 149,000 at two venues in 2018 to more than 13 million tickets sold at 53 different locations last year. Box office revenues reached $238 million last year, a 95% increase on 2020. Variety noted that the sector is slated to reach $1 billion in the coming years. While movies from all over the world are shown, Egyptian movies account for 21% of box office takings despite being only 7% of releases.

Muffest+ Sustainable Modest Fashion Show held in Jakarta

The Muslim Fashion Festival+, or Muffest+, was held in Jakarta to showcase Indonesian modest fashion wear. Some 60 designs from seven local brands were featured, including Gajah Duduk, Inen Signature,BT Batik Trusmi, Bajufuku, Gamaleea, IDE Indonesia (Indonesian Ecoprint Designer Association), and Aruna Creative x Nicolo, reported the Jakarta Globe.

The fashion show started with sarung maker Gajah Duduk’s 2022 Ramadan Collection, while Aruna Creative x Nicolo “gave a modern twist to Indonesian traditional textiles (wastra) with viscose denim”.

All the designs featured Asia Pacific Rayon’s viscose rayon, “a biodegradable fibre that is not only sustainable, but also packs desirable qualities for a modest attire”.

Saudi Arabia targets Indian tourists

Saudi Arabia wants to bolster bilateral tourism ties with India, said Saudi Tourism Board CEO Fahd Hamidaddin at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit in Manila, reported the Daily Excelsior.

“We went on a road trip to India, met a lot of travel agents there and have some promising partnerships. Now, our focus is on air carriers. We want to develop routes from India and grow these routes. We want to promote the destinations with our trade partners from India,” Hamidaddin said. “I am expecting a lot (of bilateral agreements) to be signed this year. Because we feel India is definitely a key market for Saudi. The government is also addressing the issue of accessibility with visas and air connectivity for leisure, business and religious travel,” said Hamidaddin.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s shop features India and Arab designs

To commemorate a decade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s (MOMA) reimagined Islamic galleries, the gift shop is selling designs from Indian jewellers, “hand-embroidered linens by Morocco’s Al Nour, glassware by Lebanon’s Orient 499 and intricately embroidered Kashmiri style scarves,” reported the Robb Report. The collection is curated by designer and textile connoisseur Madeline Weinrib, who has chosen craftspeople from throughout the Muslim world.

Cambodia holds workshop on Basic Halal Tourism for officials

The Indonesian embassy in Phnom Penh held a workshop for Cambodian Tourism Ministry officials on Muslim-friendly tourism. The two main speakers were Dr. H.A. Umar, Head of the Center for Halal Product Development and Supervision, and Lady Yulia from the Indonesian Ministry of Religion.

According to the Khmer Times, the workshop was held to promote Indonesian halal products, halal lifestyle, and halal certification and standardisation. “If Cambodia can meet the needs for products and services for Muslim travellers and consumers, it is certain that around 237.53 million Indonesian Muslims are the potential customers for Cambodian products,” said Sudirman Haseng, the Indonesian Ambassador to Cambodia.

 

Islamic Lifestyle
Noor Kids Digital Ramadan Camp attracts 80,000 viewers

Islamic-themed programme features daily stories and guest speakers during Ramadan.

 

US-based Noor Kids has run Ramadan camps for years to ensure the holy month resonates with children with founder and master storyteller Amin Aaser previously traversing the country from one Muslim community to another to relay the stories of Islam.

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic the in-person camp contact transformed into an online platform and featured a different 30-minute show every night. This year Noor Kids waived its $179 programme fee to provide universal access to its Digital Ramadan Camp.

Alhumdullilah, we have been blown away. Close to 80,000 children were enrolled (with the camp) from across the world including the US, Canada, the UK, South Africa and Pakistan, but also Rwanda, Uzbekistan and Sri Lanka. It is truly a global experience,” said Aaser, the executive director of Noor Kids.

Over the past decade, Noor Kids has produced 140 stories for children. During Ramadan, Aaser tells a story every evening or invites a guest speaker, such as Zain Bhikah, a South African singer-songwriter who performs Islamic nasheed, National Basketball Association (NBA) US player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Keith Ellison, the first Muslim congressman in the US, and the Yaqeen Institute's Sheikh Omar Suleiman.

“Ramadan is the most important month in the Islamic calendar and parents want to ensure their children grow up with a love for this month,” said Aaser to Salaam Gateway. “At the same time there are big challenges. Number one, parents are fasting, which makes it difficult, and secondly, life has never been as busy as it is today. Parents are busy, so we thought how we might support parents? We conjured up this idea to have a digital Ramadan camp … to bring the holy month into hearts and homes.”
 

Read - A decade on, Noor Kids is on an upward trajectory

 

Aaser said a goal is to be a kind of “Mister Rogers for Muslims”. Fred Rogers was an American television host and Presbyterian minister who created the pre-school series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood that ran from 1968 to 2001.

“Mister Rogers provided simple and deep messages to help children navigate the complexities of their life. He did it from his living room, so kids could feel like they were connected to something real. We saw an inspiration for this, as each of our programmes is shot from my living room, so they feel part of a global Muslim family,” said Aaser.

In addition to stories and guest speakers, Noor Kids organises a weekly challenge such as constructing a cardboard masjid.

“Kids take boxes and tape it up to make the masjid. Others activities are to draw say the Masjid al-Aqsa or a water colour of a starry night painting. In doing so, we create activities for kids and a community,” he said.

Each website submission is ranked by who receives the most hearts. Aaser said while the storytelling will stop come Eid Al Fitr, Noor Kids will have a pre-Eid celebration.

“It will be a Muslim Dad joke tournament, featuring scholars and artists, to raise funds to support orphans,” said Aaser.

Post-Ramadan, Noor Kids will seek benefactors and investors.

“We are specifically looking for impact investors to grow the work we are doing. We are hoping over the next few months to secure funding to build on our success.”

© SalaamGateway.com 2022. All Rights Reserved

Islamic Lifestyle
Nea Wear releases Ramadan prayer collection

Sustainability is at the core of this UK modest fashion brand.

 

Spanish-born fashion model Ainara Adnan launched Nea Wear at the beginning of 2020 with a range of hijabs using deadstock fabrics and the bootstrapped business deriving its name from the Arabic word niyyah.

Niyyah describes the Islamic concept: the intention in one's heart to do an act for the sake of Allah.

However, Adnan’s sustainable intentions focus on more than merely avoiding waste and unused fabric going into landfills. Implementing her vision also includes selecting environmentally friendly textiles and providing clients with comfortable experiences.

A successful mix of these aspects is the recently launched Sundus prayer collection that has been in the making for a year.

“I realised many women don’t have clothes to pray at work or when they go on holiday. I wanted to make something functional, for everyone to pray anywhere,” said Adnan, a millennial who converted to Islam in her early 20s, to Salaam Gateway.

 

(Courtesy: Nea Wear)

Available in cream, olive and black and coming with a prayer mat and matching tote bag with embroidered logo, the one-piece Sundus prayer gown features an elegant contrast piping on both sides and an attached hijab for extra comfort.

The functional design includes pockets and an invisible zipper at the front. The fully biodegradable fabric used offers a cooling effect and provides antibacterial and moisture repellent properties, making it easy to dry quickly after wudu.

The Sundus collection is made in Turkey, using wholly TENCEL™ Lyocell fibres. Tencel is a type of rayon that, according to scientist Johnathan Y. Chen, was developed as researchers sought to manufacture rayon in a less harmful way than the viscose method.

These fibres are extracted from sustainably grown wood using a closed-loop system to recover and reuse the solvents, thus minimising the environmental impact of production.

“We also focus on fabric manufacturers that use nontoxic, natural dyes,” Adnan said about her choice of suppliers, adding that dyeing is one of the fashion industry’s largest water pollutant processes.

 

(Courtesy: Nea Wear)

 

According to Dinar Standard’s State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2022, consumers are taking a greater interest in where their clothing originate and require more accountability from manufacturers.

The consulting firm sees this as an opportunity for financiers to invest in businesses actively implementing sustainable and ethical practices. Investors can also encourage sustainable practices by including sustainability goals in their conditions and have a first-mover advantage since sustainable materials are not yet common in the modest fashion industry.

The report highlighted the industry’s growth potential with Muslim fashion spending increasing 5.7% in 2021 to $295 billion and expected to increase 6% in the current year to $313 billion. An anticipated 6.1% four-year compound annual growth rate will value the industry at $375 billion by 2025.

Adnan said the business was “going well”, having created a stable revenue base from which to allow for growth. However, the entrepreneur also pinpointed it has been an arduous journey.

“As much as it’s true that it was a good time for online businesses, the competition and market’s saturation became absolutely unbearable,” she said, referring to the pandemic.

Nea Wear is in the onboarding process with three to five retailers to grow reach and revenue.

“Obviously, I’m focusing on sustainable retailers,” Adnan said, naming Plain Tiger, a marketplace that offers conscious luxury, as one.

Besides selling through the brand’s website, Adnan also dreams of having a small shop in future. However, she remains focused and sustainability-minded.

“I don’t want to make a lot, but I want to make it well,” she concluded.

© SalaamGateway.com 2022. All Rights Reserved


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