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Islamic Lifestyle

Islamic lifestyle wrap: French schools send back girls for wearing abaya. What lies ahead?

Here's a roundup of key developments across the Islamic lifestyle ecosystem during the month of September

Editor's note: France and fashion are friends. Best of mates They have a kinship that dates back decades, with the French capital revered as a harbinger of new trends and cuts, sartorial choices and much of the world's fashion influence.

In recent weeks, the country has again garnered attention - but of an unsavoury type - for sartorial rules. French schools refused entry to female students who wore abayas on the first day of the new academic year. This move was in adherence to the injunction passed last month, barring students from wearing the loose-fitted Islamic garment to schools on secular grounds. 

As expected, the directive received backlash, but to what end? Will it prompt a rethink at a later stage? Time only, will tell. 

In more positive news, Saudi Arabia is looking to develop a number of historical sites in the two holy cities as part of its Vision 2030, whilst actively engaging in activities to promote its services and facilities for pilgrims. 


Company News

Amari Johor Bahru bags best halal destination award 
The five-star Amari Johor Bahru, located centrally in Johor Bahru, clinched the Best Halal Destination Award at the annual Majestic Johor Tourism Awards held at Puteri Harbour in August.

Ms. Pauline Chua, the hotel's general manager, expressed gratitude, underscoring the hotel's dedication to inclusivity, from halal food services to special prayer rooms. She emphasized Amari Johor Bahru's commitment to simplifying halal tourism and its integral role in the region's tourism industry. (Zawya)

Islamic inspired art exhibit to open at NadiaNA Art Gallery in September 
Artist Nadia Alkhun, showcasing her Muslim pride in a self-portrait at her NAdiaNa Art Gallery, is set to open the 'Islamic Inspired' exhibit.

Beyond her faith, Alkhun's identity intertwines with science and art. A graduate in biotechnology from Jordan before moving to the US in 2009, Alkhun believes her scientific background enriches her artwork. (TMJ 4)

United Kingdom / France
Nike designer tells French schoolgirls to defy Islamic dress ban
British Nike designer and fashion influencer, Saeedah Haque, has stirred debate by urging French schoolgirls to defy a new law prohibiting the wearing of abaya.

The London-based, British-Bengali designer, known for her modern taks on the robe-like attire, criticised the French state's decision as an effort to maintain secularism.

Despite partnering with Nike, the 25-year-old contemplates offering the garment for free to school attendees. (The Telegraph)

Saudi Arabia
Flynas launches operations base at Madinah airport
Saudi Arabian low-cost airline, Flynas, has inaugurated its fourth operations base at the Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International airport in Madinah, following an agreement with Tibah Airports Operation Company.

This move makes Flynas the sole carrier to have four bases throughout Saudi Arabia.

The airline's CEO emphasized that this development, in line with their growth strategy, showcases their confidence in the Saudi market and aligns with the nation's aspirations for the aviation sector. (Gulf Business)


Trade Developments

Middle East
Seychelles Tourism partners with Dnata Travel for destination promotion
In a move to boost its brand prominence in the GCC region, the Tourism Seychelles office in the Middle East collaborated with Emirati travel group, Dnata Travel Consultants.

The joint campaign targets Dnata's branches across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, and Iraq.

A session saw 35 consultants from Dnata Travel's diverse brands briefed on Seychelles' latest entry procedures, forthcoming hotel developments, and halal stipulations, among other insights. (Travel Daily News)


Cambodia encouraged to expand halal ecosystem
Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) has urged Cambodia to enhance its halal ecosystem, which could foster the development of various sectors, including tourism, agriculture, and construction.


Mohd Dhaliff Ghaus Mohd Anuar, head of halal advisory at Halal Development Corporation (HDC) in Malaysia, emphasized the potential for both countries to collaborate and support each other's halal industries. (Travel Daily News)


Saudi Arabia / Jordan

Saudi ministry wraps up showcase of Nusuk platform in Jordan
Saudi Arabia's unified government platform for Hajj and Umrah, Nusuk, led by Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, has wrapped up its visit to Jordan.


Accompanied by officials from the Saudi Tourism Authority and other relevant government bodies, along with 300 private sector partners, the visit aimed to strengthen ties with the Islamic world and promote services and facilities for pilgrims, as part of Nusuk's strategy to engage in regional and international meetings. (Arab News)


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia to develop over 100 historical sites in Makkah and Madinah
Saudi Arabia is embarking on a project to develop more than 100 historical sites in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.


This initiative, known as "Doyof Al Rahman" or Guests of the Most Merciful, is part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 and aims to enhance the pilgrimage experience for visitors. (Middle East Monitor)


French schools refuse scores of female students wearing abaya
On the first day of the new academic year, French schools sent 67 girls home, for refusing to remove their abayas and complying with a recent ban.

While nearly 300 girls arrived wearing the attire, most complied when asked to change.

The government instituted the abaya ban last month, emphasizing its stand on secularism in education, a policy which previously led to the banning of Muslim headscarves. (Arab News)

Saudi Arabia
Saudi bans carrying luggage inside Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that small bags will be prohibited inside the prayer areas of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

Visitors are, however, allowed to store these bags in lockers located outside the mosque. Larger items are neither permitted inside the mosque and its courtyards nor can they be stored in the external lockers. (The Kashmir Monitor)

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia to license more firms for overseas pilgrims
Saudi Arabia is planning to expand the number of companies licensed to provide services to overseas pilgrims during the annual Hajj pilgrimage season.


Under new rules, these licenses will have a duration of five years, with the possibility of renewal subject to specific regulations. Licensing and renewal fees are estimated at SR100,000.  (Gulf News)


Saudi Arabia

Saudi authorities set dress code for women making Umrah pilgrimage
Saudi authorities have established a dress code for Muslim women participating in Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.


The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah stated that female worshippers are free to choose their attire during the rituals but must adhere to specific guidelines. The attire should be loose-fitting, devoid of ornaments, and must adequately cover the woman's body.  (Gulf News)


Operational Developments


Pakistani government aims to fully digitize Hajj operations 

The Pakistan government is taking steps to enhance the efficiency and reliability of the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage, which is the fifth pillar of Islam.

In a crucial meeting between the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, a decision was made to digitize the Hajj operation in the coming years. (PARHLO)


Saudi Arabia