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Muslim Asian Tiger
Indonesia Lays Out the Prayer Mat

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic country, hopes to become a hotspot for “sharia” tourism. It’s an increasingly profitable market, the AFP (via the Guardianreports:

While there are no official figures for “sharia” tourism in Indonesia, the sector is experiencing strong growth internationally.

In a recent report, Muslim-oriented business group CrescentRating, predicted the sector would be worth $192bn a year globally by 2020, up from $140bn in 2013.

“The economic growth of Middle Eastern countries is very good and we see an opportunity there,” senior tourism ministry official Rizki Handayani told AFP. […]

The government has produced tourist guides promoting Indonesia as a “Muslim friendly destination”. It highlights the country’s best “sharia” tourism destinations and notes there are more than 600,000 mosques in the archipelago.

One of the biggest questions in Indonesia’s future is whether Wahhabism will gain influence in a Muslim country known for its tolerance and pluralism. The increase of tourists from the Middle East, then, is a small trend but one worth watching.

Indonesia is an Asian tiger not yet grown—it has enormous economic and geopolitical potential, but needs a slew of reforms to really get going. Though he has his work cut out for him, Joko Widodo, the country’s new and charismatic President, is thought to be the reformer the country has been waiting for. If so, we’ll count that as very good news indeed.

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  • Kevin

    1. Growth rates in the Arab world look like they are likely to decline in the coming years.
    2. Gulf Arabs tend to like to vacationing places with more liberal attitudes than their homelands, though also ones that are not too decadent or anti-Muslim. Indonesia’s traditional moderately Islamic culture would seem well suited to attract these visitors.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The fall in oil prices is likely to last for many years, and only the oil producing Muslim countries were experiencing economic growth to begin with, so I think this is a stupid idea that will fail from the beginning.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Tourism is the biggest industry in the world, so Indonesia, like everyone else is trying to tap into it. Given the recent tendencies toward instability in some Muslim nations, one would think that Indonesian leadership would have some concerns about who they might be inviting as visitors.

    • Josephbleau

      Perhaps agriculture including illegal drugs is the worlds largest industry, but to the point, the only real Arab tourists are partying with the girls at st tropez and buying at cartiers. The other folks go to Mecca.

      • FriendlyGoat

        You’re probably right that growing illegal drugs would add a lot to the tally of what is normally called agriculture

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