Qatar is a popular country to visit for Muslims during Ramadan, and will grow increasingly so in the coming years, according to a new report that analyzes travel patterns during the holy month.
The Gulf country currently ranks 13th out of 49 nations in the Ramadan Travel Report 2016, but is forecast to reach the top of the list by 2030. By then, Ramadan will fall during Qatar’s coolest months.
The report was authored by Mastercard and halal-friendly tourism analysts CrescentRating.
To reach its conclusions, it analyzed three factors:
- Average daytime temperatures during Ramadan;
- How long the fast lasts each day; and
- Individual country scores in the Global Muslim Travel Index 2016 (GMTI).
Qatar maintained its position as the fifth friendliest nation to visit for Muslim travelers in the latest GMTI report. However, its high summer temperatures brought down its ranking in this year’s Ramadan Travel Report.
Convenience and comfort
The report noted that while the majority of Muslims prefer not to travel during Ramadan, there is a growing trend of foreign tourism.
This is in part because people want to visit family but also because some wish to spend the holy month in a Muslim country and soak in the festive Ramadan spirit.
The report also stated that some Muslims now choose to travel abroad for Ramadan to take advantage of shorter fasting days or cooler weather:
“Muslims living in environments with extreme weather conditions or long fasting durations may be motivated to travel to other destinations during the month of Ramadan so that they can perform their fasting more comfortably.
This is especially true for first and second generation of migrants who have not grown accustomed to their new living conditions, as well as people of old age.”
Accordingly, the report predicted that Qatar’s popularity as a Ramadan destination will increase significantly between 2023 and 2030, when Ramadan will fall between the months of April and January.
The report’s analysis suggests that Qatar will jump from 13th to 8th in 2020, before climbing to 3rd place in 2024, and eventually taking first place in 2030, knocking its neighbor the UAE off the top spot.
A stopover before Umrah
The rankings exclude Saudi Arabia, home of holy sites Makkah and Medina, as these destinations are visited “irrespective” of the three factors used for this analysis, the report’s authors explain:
“The criteria used in this study were based on the convenience, comfort and ease of travel, and not from the perspective of Islamic rewards.”
It noted that Makkah and Medina remain the top two destinations for Muslims during Ramadan, and that many choose to perform Umrah – the lesser, non-obligatory pilgrimage Muslims make to Makkah – during this time of year.
The report suggested that GCC airlines could boost tourism to their own countries by offering special Umrah stopover packages to these pilgrims during the holy month.