Not many people know that since 2017, Taiwan has already had their own Halal Center. As the region with Muslim account for only 0.2 percent of the local population of 23 million,[i] it is interesting to learn how Muslim-friendly tourism increased quite significant in Taiwan in the last 3 years.
As one of the participants of the 2018 Taiwan Muslim Youth Exchange Camp for Southeast Asian Countries held by MOFA Taiwan, I’ve got an opportunity to explore and learn more about the role of Taiwan Government in promoting and creating a more friendly environment for Muslim tourist.
(Welcoming party of the 2018 Taiwan Muslim Youth Exchange Camp hosted by MOFA Taiwan)
2018 Taiwan Muslim Youth Exchange Camp
The camp was held on July 22 to 28, 2018. It was the second time for Taiwan to hosting the camp. This year, Taiwan invited 40 youths from Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Indonesia, and selected six Taiwanese students as the counselors for the camp. The Secretary-General of MOFA Taiwan, Mr. James K. J. Lee pointed out that this camp was arranged as a platform for ASEAN Muslim youth and Taiwanese youth to be able to interact and understand each other. The program is also aimed to provide information about the development of the halal industry and Muslim culture in Taiwan and to promote awareness of Islamic culture among the Taiwanese youth. It’s consisted of 5-days intensive lecture and excursion visit to some tourist attractions, Mosques and Muslim-Friendly Restaurants in Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Pingtung. Moreover, the participants also got an opportunity to ride on the Taiwan High-Speed Rail from Taipei to Kaohsiung.
The lecture series was delivered by five keynote speakers covering various topics, from Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy to Taiwan’s Muslim-Friendly Tourism. There were two speeches that gained the most attention from the participants. The first one was the speech given by Mr. Majid Tsai, the Halal Specialist of Chinese Muslim Association (CMA). He gave a presentation on being Muslim in Taiwan and also about the current development of the halal industry in Taiwan.
The other interesting session was given by Ms. Sophiyah Liu. She shared her life story, from working as a spirit medium in the temple during her young age to converting to a Muslim. Ms. Liu is the first Taiwanese woman that became an international baseball umpire. In 2017, the HBO Asia produced TV series “The Teenage Psychic” that was inspired by her story. It was the first HBO show produced in Taiwan and has been aired in 23 countries around Asia.[i] Her inspiring story did not stop there; in 2018 the Forbes included Ms. Sophiyah Liu as number 19th of the most powerful woman in international sport.[ii](Rifki Indra Maulana/Researcher at P2SDR-LIPI)