Moscow Hotel goes ‘Halal’
Moscow: No bacon for breakfast, a room for prayers and a Qur’an on your bedside table: a hotel in Moscow has launched a special “halal” service as Russia tries to attract visitors from the Muslim world.
“Around 70 percent of our guests are from overseas and 13 percent of these or some 5,000 people come from Muslim countries, especially Iran,” says Lyubov Shiyan, marketing director at the Aerostar hotel.
“Our Muslim visitors were constantly asking for a separate prayer room or a special menu,” she said. “We wanted everyone who came here to feel at home.”
To make that happen, the hotel had to go through a rigorous procedure before it could finally be certified halal by Muslim officials in Russia and launch the service this month. These are tough times for Russia’s tourism industry with the numbers of visitors, especially from the West, nose diving in recent months amidst the worst East-West tensions since the Cold War, over the crisis in Ukraine. Industry sources set the drop in Western visitors, notably from the US and Britain, at 30 to 50 percent. That has sent hotels scrambling to attract guests from other parts of the globe, including Muslim nations in the Mideast and Asia that have placed no sanctions on Moscow over its intervention in Ukraine. “We equipped 20 rooms out of the 308 in the hotel with a prayer mat, a basin for ritual washing and a small compass that indicates the direction of Makkah,” said Shiyan. “Even the shampoo and soap in the rooms have been certified as halal and do not contain any animal fats or alcohol,” she added. Two prayer rooms — one for men and one for women have been set up and a separate kitchen will be cooking exclusively halal food.