True or false: Hong Kong is not a Muslim-friendly destination
ALTHOUGH MUSLIMS are a minority group in most Chinese countries, they will make up a significant amount of the population.
While there are an estimated 185 to 250 million Buddhism practitioners in China, a 2009 study done by the Pew Research Center based on China’s census concluded there are 21 million Muslims in the country, accounting for 1.6 percent of the total population.
Of this number, 300,000 of them are in Hong Kong and one-third of them are ethnic Chinese Muslims.
The bustling former British colony is one of the world’s most dense, with a population of over 7.2 million people as of December 2017. 92 percent of the population is Han Chinese.
Everywhere you look, shiny skyscrapers seem to touch the sky.
The hectic traffic on the streets and the hurried pace of the crowds breathe life into the city while the multicolored glowing neon lights hanging overhead at night are bound to memorize you.
There’s something for everyone in Hong Kong, from hole-in-the-wall eateries to the luxurious restaurants serving hot bamboo steamer baskets of dim sum.
There are also plenty of museums, sights, and outdoor adventures available to both locals and tourists alike – you just need to know where to look. This includes Muslim-friendly destinations as well.
Currently, Hong Kong is home to five permanent mosques and dozens of madrassas (Islamic learning centers).
The stunning white Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Centre on Nathan road is the biggest, with a capacity of 3,500, and the historic Jamia Mosque on Shelley Street is the oldest.
Built in 1890 on a piece of land leased by the British Hong Kong government, the Jamia Mosque is rectangular-shaped with an arched main entrance and Arabic-styled arched windows on all sides.
Extension of the building took place in 1915 which made the mosque into a larger building.
The other mosques are Masjid Ammar & Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre on Oi Kwan Road, Chai Wan Mosque on Cape Collinson Road, and Stanley Mosque on Tung Tau Wan Road.
Plans to construct a new mosque in Sheung Shui in the New Territories are currently underway.
With such a strong Muslim community, this means that halal food should be aplenty as well. And it is.
You can’t leave Hong Kong without sampling dim sum at the Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre’s canteen, Muslim travelers will find almost every type of dim sum available.
If you’re hankering for some authentic duck rice complete with tender duck meat and super thin crispy skin, Bowrington Road Market’s Wai Kee is where it’s at.
Hong Kong’s theme parks haven’t forgotten their Muslim friends as well. In fact, Hong Kong Disneyland is the only Disney park in the world that provides halal food options.
Head on over to the Explorer’s Club Restaurant to savor a world of flavors from four different yummy cuisines – Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, and Southeast Asian.
Alternatively, you could also make a pitstop at the casual Tahitian Terrace to choose from laksa to Thai chicken curry, to rendang beef (spicy meat dish cooked with coconut milk and spices) and even vegetarian meals.
Even at Ocean Park, Muslim travelers aren’t forgotten. The park’s food card #3 in front of the lagoon offers Asian delights sure as Hainanese chicken rice, Tandoori chicken, and more.
If you need to squeeze in some prayer time while you’re out and about or at the Hong Kong International Airport before your flight, fret not.
Attractions such as the sky100, a 360-degree indoor observation deck on the 100th floor of the International Commerce Centre, the tallest building in Hong Kong, is fitted with a prayer room.
The Hong Kong International Airport also has a dedicated prayer room complete with a foot cleaning basin and directional sign (Qiblah).
Go here for the full list of prayer rooms in Hong Kong.