Thu, May 12, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Roadside Muslim prayer rooms open

‘BETTER UNDERSTANDING’:A National Freeway Bureau official said he hopes more Muslim tourists visit the nation so Taiwanese can learn about Islam and Islamic culture

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Muslim prayer rooms at a freeway service area on the Formosa Freeway (National Freeway No. 3) in Taichung’s Cingshuei District (清水) opened for use yesterday.

They are the nation’s first Muslim prayer rooms at a freeway service area.

Similar facilities already exist at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the Taipei Railway Station and the Taichung High-speed Rail Station.

National Freeway Bureau Deputy Director-General Wu Mu-fu (吳木富) said the facilities mark the latest efforts by the government to attract more Muslim tourists from around the world.

“The nation has 14 freeway service areas, but the one in Cingshuei is the largest and the busiest. As such, we decided to build the first Muslim prayer rooms at a freeway service area constructed in Cingshuei,” Wu said.

Clear signposts showing the direction to the prayer rooms can be seen in the lobby of the main building in the service area, Wu said.

“We hope that more Muslim tourists visit Taiwan now that the prayer rooms are available for use,” he added. “In return, Muslim tourists from all over the world can bring to Taiwan the diversity of the Islamic culture, so people can gain a better understanding of it.”

The bureau said that before constructing the prayer rooms, it consulted the Chinese Muslims Association Taipei, the Taichung Mosque and the Tourism Bureau.

The two prayer rooms — one for men and one for women — are far enough from the shopping area to enable Muslim travelers to pray in an undisturbed environment, the bureau said.

Fitted with air conditioners, each prayer room has a sign pointing toward the direction of Mecca and prayer mats, the bureau said, adding that the rooms also have a waiting area and facilities to wash and dry oneself.

The restrooms near the prayer rooms are equipped with bidet toilets and telephones on the side of the doors to the prayer rooms can be used to call for assistance, the bureau added.

A recent survey by MasterCard ranked Taiwan a top-10 travel destination among nations that are not members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) both last year and this year.

Taiwan was also rated No. 1 and No. 3 in terms of safe travel environment and airport facilities respectively among non-OIC nations.

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