The first Malaysian airline to comply with Muslim Sharia law has taken to the skies, while a Russian travel company is planning holiday tours to battlefronts in the Syrian war zone.
The two developments are completely separate. Only the timing is similar.
Rayani Air of Malaysia (which has no connection with Ryanair of Ireland) does not promote itself a Sharia airline, though it complies with Islamic law.
Rayani Air is reported to be the fourth airline in the world to apply Sharia-compliant practices. The others are Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA), Saudi Arabian Airlines and Iran Air.
Muslim prayers are recited before Rayani Air flights depart, while alcoholic beverages and pork are banned. Female flight attendants wear the hijab Islamic headscarf.
Rayani is based at Langkawi International Airport. It allows only halal food to be served, while women must cover their hair.
“It is compulsory for our Muslim women cabin crew to wear hijab and for non-Muslims to wear a decent uniform”, Rayani Air’s managing director, Jaafar Zamhari, told local news outlet Astro Awani.
A Britain-based Sharia-compliant flight company is also planning to launch in 2016, London’s Daily Telegraph reports. Firnas Airways, a start-up run by Kazi Shafiqur Rahman, plans to launch its first route to Sylhet in Bangladesh, with more services to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, New York, Pakistan and Iran planned.
MEANWHILE, in Russia, a far wilder operation is being planned. A Russian travel company wants to offer holiday tours to war-torn Syria next year.
Megapolis Kurort has submitted to the Russian Agency for Patents and Trademarks (Rospatent) an application to register its Assad Tour, according to the Moscow City News Agency. It hopes to start selling the trip in 2016.
Syria has been in the midst of a civil war since 2011 and Australia’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade advises Australians not to travel there. An estimated 220,000 people have been killed in the war so far and ISIS holds part of the country. Britain, France, the US, Russia and a few other countries are currently in the process of bombing parts of Syria with rockets, bombs and cruise missiles.
As DFAT puts it: “We strongly advise Australians not to travel to Syria because of the extremely dangerous security situation, highlighted by ongoing military conflict including aerial bombardment, kidnappings and terrorist attacks. The Australian Government has recommended, since April 2011, that Australians in Syria depart immediately by commercial means while it is possible to do so.”
Moscow City News Agency quotes Anatoly Aronov, president of the First Patent Company, which assisted in filing the application, saying: “The applicant, Megapolis Ltd., expects to launch tours from Moscow to Syria next year, with the possibility of a trip to the front line.”
The trips will last four to five days and be intended for small groups of three to five people, he added.
“Despite the crisis in the tourism industry, there are always people who are willing to combine the cognitive goals with the opportunity to see natural disasters or visit the places located near the fighting,” Aronov said.
There is some doubt about whether the trips will be allowed to be sold, Britain’s Daily Telegraph noted.
A spokesperson for the Russia Travel Industry told the paper the tours would be illegal as the company could not guarantee the safety of its guests.
Telegraph Travel in the same paper reported earlier this month that the Syrian regime was actively promoting tourism to the country, despite the civil war.
Written by Peter Needham