Turkey’s move towards a more Islamic identity hasn’t only meant a growing popularity for headscarves amongst women in the country that has been secular since 1924 - it has also led to a growth in so-called Halal tourist resorts. A New Yorker article from 2016 neatly summarises the socio-political context: “Throughout his tenure as Prime Minister and now as President, Erdoğan has distanced himself from (modern Turkey’s founder), Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He views himself as the father of a new Turkish identity, one aligned more closely with its Ottoman past, its Islamic heritage. He has taken the country in a more religious direction, similar to a place it was in before the 1997 coup.”
One of the outcomes of such a move is the burgeoning crop of Islamic friendly hotels serving halal food and enforcing a no-alcohol policy in all or some areas of their premises, alongside on-site prayer facilities. Such hotels and resorts have separate pool, spa and leisure facilities for women, whilst some properties have private women-only beach swimming and/or sun tanning areas, whilst others have mixed beach areas for families with modest swimming dress code.
Halal hotels were once the preserve of rich Muslims, but over the last couple of years, these hotels are cropping up along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, in resorts such as Antalya. Resorts previously catering to beer swilling Russian and west European tourists are now keen to respond to the growing number of websites offering Islamic friendly holidays for Muslim travellers, joining the various other speciality holidays on offer such as kosher, vegan and even specialist Christian holidays.
main image: Panoramic view of the courtyard of the Blue Mosque, in Istanbul, Turkey. The courtyard has a square shape, but the mercator projection necessary to squeeze all the field of view into the frame bends the horizontal lines. Panorama created with Hugin.
By Benh LIEU SONG – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12654068