Thailand’s leading Muslim cleric announces the start of Ramadan

Many Phuket government sectors have donated for food and water to be served after Iftar, photo by AoT.

Thailand’s leading Muslim cleric announced the start of Ramadan yesterday. The cleric, Sheikul Islam Aziz Phitakkumpon, said…

“As announced to Thai Muslims across the country to sight the new crescent moon after sunset on Wednesday, March 22, to mark the first day of Ramadan AH 1444. It has been confirmed that the new crescent moon has been sighted. So I declared Thursday, March 23, as the first day of the holy month of Ramadan AH 1444.”

Muslims make up roughly 5% of Thailand’s population. The country’s Muslim population is largely concentrated in the southern region.

An estimated 20% of Phuket’s native population are Muslims, according to The Phuket News. Many government offices in the island province are making small donations of food and water to be served at Iftar, the evening meal with which Muslims break their fast at sunset during Ramadan.

Airports of Thailand (AoT) staff and management at Phuket International Airport donated to many mosques in their area.

Recently, Thai officials have been seeking to promote Muslim-friendly tourism in the kingdom. In a focus discussion last week, the Department of Tourism (DoT) and private sectors reviewed strategies to attract Muslim visitors.

The DoT’s Tourist Attractions Development Division Director, Athuek Phrasenmoon, said Muslim tourists prefer Muslim-friendly destinations, such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Krabi. They also look for hotels and restaurants that serve halal food and provide facilities such as prayer rooms, he said.

Thailand is the fourth most popular non-Muslim country among Muslim tourists, according to the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index 2022. Over 400,000 tourists travelled to Thailand from the Middle East in 2022, according to NNT.

With this in mind, the DoT is committed to developing a solid plan to attract more Muslim tourists to the country while ensuring that they feel welcome and comfortable during their stay. In addition to the tourism strategy, the department is also working to prepare authorities and personnel working in the hospitality and service industries to understand the culture, behaviour, and needs of Muslim tourists.

Thailand News

Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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