Regional Gateway: air taxi trial takes-off in Saudi Arabia

Islamic Lifestyle

Islamic lifestyle wrap: Tajikistan formalizes hijab ban

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

Editor's note: In a move designed to revolutionize pilgrim transportation, Saudi Arabia has tested its first pilotless air taxi during this year's Hajj season. The ministry has also begun issuing Umrah visas. 

Meanwhile, Qatar is leveraging frontier technologies to advance a preservation project.

Operational Developments


Halal Lechon Baka Festival highlights halal tourism

The first-ever “Halal Lechon Baka Festival” in Isulan captivated locals on June 18th, featuring over 50 halal-certified roast beef dishes to celebrate Eid’l Adha. Governor Datu Pax Ali Mangudadatu emphasized unity and promoted halal tourism, echoing President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s vision for international engagement. The event will now become an annual celebration across municipalities, promoting inclusivity amid cultural diversity in Sultan Kudarat. (PIA Sultan Kudarat)​.


Saudi Arabia

Ministry provides nearly 1.5 million religious services to pilgrims during Hajj

Nearly 1.5 million religious services were provided to pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season, according to the Saudi Press Agency.


Six hundred Islamic teachers and translators were available to assist pilgrims in Makkah, Madinah, and the Hajj sites of Mina, Muzdalifah, and Arafat, including answering inquiries via a toll-free number. 


ESG Developments

Saudi Arabia

Green Pilgrimage Initiative to reduce hajj's carbon footprint

Saudi Arabia has introduced the Green Pilgrimage Initiative aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the Hajj pilgrimage.


The initiative includes measures such as promoting the use of eco-friendly materials, implementing waste reduction strategies, and encouraging pilgrims to adopt sustainable practices. (Gulf News)



Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia trials first pilotless air taxi for Hajj pilgrims in Mecca

Saudi Arabia conducted a trial run of the world's first civil aviation-approved flying taxi, the EH216-S during this hajj season.


The electric vehicle aims to revolutionize pilgrim transportation during Hajj, offering efficient movement between holy sites, emergency response, and logistical support.


Authorities plan further trials to extend its range and speed. (Al Arabiya News)



Tech project aims to preserve Arabic language, Islamic heritage

Qatar’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University is spearheading the Fanar project, which aims to preserve the Arabic language using advanced AI techniques.


The project involves developing Arabic-centric language models capable of understanding and generating responses in various Arabic dialects.  (Wired Middle East)


Trade Developments


Boracay set to launch as Muslim-friendly destination

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has announced plans to reposition Boracay as a Muslim-friendly destination, aiming to attract more Muslim visitors.


Scheduled for September, the initiative includes private coves for Muslim women and enhanced amenities like prayer rooms and halal-certified dining options.


This effort underscores DOT's commitment to diversify tourism offerings and attract a broader international audience. (Qatar moments)



United States

Islamic Scholarship Fund expands film industry ties

The Islamic Scholarship Fund (ISF) has received a $500,000 grant from the Doris Duke Foundation’s Building Bridges Program.


The funding will support multi-year fellowships with the Sundance Institute, provide mentorship, and facilitate participation in key industry events. 


ISF aims to empower filmmakers keen to tell Muslim stories, fostering empathy and understanding. (IDA Editorial)



Saudi Arabia

Ministry begins issuing Umrah visas for post-Hajj season

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has begun issuing Umrah visas for the post-Hajj season, as reported by the Saudi Press Agency.


The new Umrah season will start with the Islamic New Year on Muharram 1, aiming to facilitate the arrival of pilgrims and ensure a smooth experience.




Muslim-majority country formalizes hijab ban, restricts Eid festivities

Tajikistan’s parliament has formalized a ban on Islamic attire and Eid celebrations, making the wearing of hijabs and other religious garments officially forbidden.


Enacted by the upper house, Majlisi Milli, on June 19, the new rule follows a decade-long unofficial ban on headscarves in the Muslim-majority nation.


Violators face fines up to 7,920 somonis (approximately $700), while companies allowing such attire can be fined 39,500 somonis ($3,500). (CG Wall)