TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A pastry shop and bakery in Hualien County which is famous for a buttered cake has all of its products certified as Halal by the Islamic Association of Taiwan (IAT) in an attempt to open up the Muslim market.
In traditional Islamic dietary law, Halal refers to foods and drinks that are permissible or lawful, as opposed to haram, which means unlawful. The Quran indicates that foods such as pork, blood, and alcohol are explicitly forbidden.
In addition to the pastry shop and bakery Hualien County Cake (花蓮縣餅), "there are eight restaurants, hotels, and bed and breakfasts whose products have been certified as Halal in Hualien County," said Peng Wei-tsu (彭偉族), deputy director of the Hualien County Tourism Bureau, earlier in October, adding "ten other businesses are applying for the certificate, too."
Similar to many local governments in Taiwan, Hualien County has been pushing for a friendly environment to the Muslim community since 2015, ranging from facilities in the public space to restaurants, hotels, and B&Bs, with the aim of attracting Muslim tourists.
Liu Ya- tzu (劉雅慈), shopkeeper of the pastry shop and bakery, told the Liberty Times the IAT inspector had monitored every single process from manufacturing through packaging to showcases before granting them the certificate.
Omar Ayash, director of the IAT, said Taiwan is one of the top travel destinations for Arabs who put much emphasis on food. Now that there are many restaurants applying for the Halal certificate in Hualien County, it is expected that Arabian tourists to the county will increase.
Taiwan has continued to rank seventh in Mastercard’s list of best travel destinations among non-Islamic countries for Muslim people since 2016.
According to the credit card issuing company, the Muslim travel market is one of the fastest-growing segments of the world’s economy as the Muslim population continues to grow and many of them are young with high spending power.
Apart from Muslim tourists, there are currently more than 200,000 Muslims living in Taiwan, most of whom are migrant workers from Indonesia and other southeast Asian countries. Only 50,000 to 60,000 Muslims are homegrown Taiwanese people.
The Islamic Association of Taiwan is a non-profit organization founded in 2016 intended to improve the living conditions of Muslims in Taiwan and clear up fallacies and misunderstandings about Islam.