Muslims all over the world annually prepare to welcome a month-long observance of fasting, prayer, reflection and generosity. With the Ramadan season falling in the stifling heat of the month of July this year, Turkey’s mild climate and unrivaled hospitality among other factors enable the country to sustain its position as an outstanding destination for GCC travellers throughout the holy month.
Arab travellers especially those coming from the GCC countries are expected to boost hotel reservations in Istanbul during Ramadan. Turkish Airlines, the national carrier of Turkey has launched special Ramadan promotional round trip fares from Abu Dhabi to Istanbul for travel to and from the city for the entire Ramadan period.
Sedat Gonulluoglu, Turkish Cultural and Information Attaché in Dubai comments:
“Several promotional campaigns including ‘Ramadan in Istanbul’ developed by a number of tourism operators and organizations are in full swing to reinforce Istanbul as a contending magnificent destination for Muslims during the holy month. And as in previous years, we are expecting a high volume of Arab tourists to the country during this time considering Istanbul is certain to provide a warm Ramadan atmosphere especially for Arab families.
“Besides the unmatched geographical advantage that the country offers along with strong efforts in promoting Halal tourism, significant religious and cultural similarities running deep between Turkey and the Middle East have always been a strong driving factor behind the yearly expected heavy influx of GCC tourists. All are welcome to take part in the spiritual festivity in Istanbul and other neighbouring Turkish cities during the Ramadan season.” He added.
Last year’s official figures from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism revealed significant growth rates of 80.34 per cent from the U.A.E, 107.81 per cent from Bahrain, 104.32% per cent from Kuwait, and 101.0 per cent from Qatar compared to the year before and the trend is expected to follow for this year.
In recent years, Istanbul and Bursa emerged as top cities for Arab travellers during the Ramadan season with the latter considered as this year’s preferred destination for younger Arabs; having stunning vistas and natural sceneries coupled with mosques and historical sites.
Istanbul provides a wonderful overall Ramadan experience especially for Muslims with a myriad of festivities, splendid mosques and an unmatched celebration of tradition and culture. Everyone is welcome to take a seat and break their fast at various Ramadan tents or ‘Khaymas’ spread across the city or experience the charm of the Sultanahmet Square where an array of stalls are set within a festive market atmosphere.
Formally known in Turkey as ‘Mahya’, Ramadan greetings strung in lights between the minarets of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque will dazzle Istanbul’s night sky throughout the holy month and into the 3-day Eid celebrations or ‘Bayram’ in Turkish.
Considered as the holiest site in Istanbul and one of the most sacred places in the Islamic world, travellers coming to Turkey for Ramadan are also encouraged to pay a visit to the Eyup Sultan Mosque situated in Eyup along the Golden Horn. The mosque houses the remains of Eyup-el-Ansari, a standard-bearer and one of the closest companions of the Prophet Mohammed who died at the site during an Arab siege of Constantinople in the 7th century.