It could be fair to say that some of the most misinformed myths in the world are about Muslim nations. For some in the West, traveling to any Muslim country is considered dangerous, violent or unsafe.
Yet, we’ve seen a surge of Westerners explore some Muslim countries and post their experiences on social media, busting stereotypes of travel safety. Take Pakistan as example, with foreigners such as Eva Zu Beck, Drew Binsky and Alex ‘Lost with Purpose’ coming here and visiting places even natives don’t go to.
This ‘halal’ tourism is also one of the fastest-growing facets of the global travel industry. Muslim travellers around the world are hungry for experiences and this is driving its phenomenal growth.
According to the State of the Islamic Economy Report 2018/2019, Muslim spending on travel will grow to US$ 274 billion by 2023, up from US$ 177 billion in 2017. In 2019, the number of Muslim travellers will continue to rise.
So, what are some trending Muslim destinations and why? We’ve compiled a list of lust-worthy countries, from the snow-capped mountains of Albania to the amazing food of Morocco, all the way to a heavenly island-nation you probably haven’t even heard of.
Azerbaijan, a cheap Central Asian escape
Muslim population: 96.9%
In case you haven’t noticed, Azerbaijan is becoming a top destination for Pakistanis because of it’s proximity and relatively low travel cost. It is known as the land of mountains and mud volcanoes, multiculturalism and mugham music.
Straddling the East and West, it blends striking landscapes with a people and culture that reflect its fascinating location at the crossroads of Turkey, Russia and Iran.
Top sight-seeing destination: Baku, the capital. There’s so much you can pack in a few days, from visiting palaces to the ultra-modern Heydar Aliyev Center.
Muslim population: 58.8%
An exceptionally well-kept Balkan secret, Albania has a myriad of natural attractions that seem to be on every travel bloggers list these days. Everything from snow capped mountains, to warm, glistening beaches and a strong Islamic heritage in the heart of the cosmopolitan capital. Not only that, Albania has a remarkable history of benevolence and acceptance. Let’s not forget Albanian Muslims famously stood up for Jews against the Nazi’s during the Holocaust and every single Jewish refugee survived in Albania.
Top sight-seeing destination: The Albanian Riviera. Think long sandy and pebble beaches lapped by turquoise water, cobblestoned streets and flowers everywhere. The best places to visit are Dhërmi, Drymades beach, Vuno, Qeparo, and the seaside town of Himara.
Morocco, a cross-continental marvel
Muslim population: 99%
Few countries have the kind of appeal that Morocco does. There’s a bit of Europe in its large African heart; Moroccans speak both French and Arabic. The country is both desert and sea ; urban and nomadic – mesmerising almost to a fault.
Islam lies at the foundation of Morocco’s contemporary life and cities like Marrakesh and Fes offer one of the world’s most beautiful displays of Islamic architecture.
Top sight-seeing destination: Chefchaouen. Instagrammers have been swarming there for its picturesque blue-painted houses and clear light. Browse local arts and crafts in the quaint shops of the medina, enjoy fine Moroccan cuisine at a riad restaurant. The surrounding countryside is also full of beautiful hiking trails.
Jordan, the home of history
Muslim population: 93.8%
The towering Wadis of Jordan, and the ancient cities nestled within them, are an earthly marvel unlike any other. Jordan’s history spans millennia, and the country is blessed with some of the world’s most enduring monuments and cities. Dead Sea borders Jordan on the south, framing the country with a jaw-dropping coastline. It is also among the wealthier Muslim countries of the world and the locals are quite affluent.
Top sight-seeing destination: Petra, of course. Set out between the red-hued desert escarpments in the southern heartlands of the country, it’s believed the site was first inhabited around the 4th century BC.
Mayotte, the one you’ve probably never heard of
Muslim population: 98.8%
The country is an overseas territory of France, and is governed under French law. However, it’s important to note Mahorans feel that they share in Comorean culture along with certain Malagasy traits and are united by their practice of Islam. For a decadent French-African island adventure, Mayotte is a must. Don’t forget the exquisite diving spots!
Top sight-seeing destination: Bandrele. You can go kayaking in a lagoon. Need we say more?