Last year, a friend of mine shared her experiences in a Daily Life article about the challenges of engaging with the sharing economy as a Brown Muslim Woman. Although I have been fortunate enough not to have experienced such discrimination, I don’t doubt that it’s present. Her story made me think about how with disruptive technologies such as Airbnb and Uber, consumers were able to stick it to the big companies and find more affordable alternatives to get around, but how it’s a new and uncertain space where other consumer rights may not be protected. With the Muslim travel market proving to be an increasingly lucrative one, currently estimated to be worth USD126 billion (Crescentrating.com), Muslim entrepreneurs and Start-ups are keen to service the needs of their community. I spoke to Hadi Shakuur, CEO from one such Startup, “Muzbnb”, an exciting new homestay network targeted towards servicing Muslim travellers. Here’s what he had to say about their work…
Can you tell me a little bit about how Muzbnb came about, and what it aims to achieve?
Muzbnb was born out of a desire to create something innovative to serve our community. It is a faith-based homestay network started by a group of entrepreneurs in Washington, D.C.
These are trying times for Muslims in the US and abroad and this company can serve as a beacon of light and hope that we (Muslims) are still here, still creating, still thinking about the sanctity of faith – not just ours, but faith in general.
We’ve heard stories from my Muslim brothers and sisters of discrimination and difficulty they have faced when traveling. We hope Muzbnb can help alleviate some of those issues when traveling.
Our goal is simple: to encourage travel, adventure, and the building of a global community where Muslims feel comfortable and accepted while traveling. Muzbnb allows Muslims the ability to host and book homes that are accommodating to their Islamic needs for leisure or business travel anywhere in the world.
What will be the advantages of your customers opting to book through Muzbnb over other peer-to-peer booking sites?
Aside from the typical amenities you may find in one of our homes such as wifi, stocked kitchens, complimentary breakfast, and personalized city tours — we also have search filters that highlight homes that are:
Close to Mosques or halal eateries,
Stocked with Qurans or Islamic literature,
Equipped with dedicated prayer spaces,
Alcohol-free + Drug-free,
Safe for women traveling alone,
Child-friendly, and much more!
We want Muslims to feel comfortable and accepted while traveling. Guests can also expect to experience a non-Islamophobic stay — feeling completely welcome from check-in to check-out!
Do you project that there will be a considerable amount of properties available globally, outside Muzbnb home base of the US?
Absolutely! Muzbnb is not limited to the US.. This company is meant to be for people globally. People in the U.S., U.A.E., Indonesia, Malaysia, London, Canada, Scotland, Singapore, Kuwait, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, China, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, and Italy have all expressed interest in listing their homes. More people in other countries have expressed interest in renting homes.
Are you excited about the development of services available for a growing Muslim travel market? How do you foresee the landscape changing for Muslim travellers?
We are extremely excited about the future of Muslim travel. Apart from Muzbnb, we are seeing companies beginning to cater exclusively to this niche community. More and more restaurants are carrying halal meat. Out of our necessity we are seeing a growth in “Halal activities.” There are also more blogs and guides like Wayfarer, helping guide and encourage those seeking halal adventures.
I think we are just beginning and the market of accessible “halal” resources will only increase.
As for challenges, Muslims have particular things to consider when traveling, like:
Where to offer Prayer,
Where to find Halal food,
Finding religiously acceptable events/activities, and finally
Locating Muslim friendly lodging.
We hope Muzbnb can be a source of comfort when traveling and take care of some of these things allowing Muslims to travel and explore freely.
When is Muzbnb scheduled to be fully operational and running? I’m keen to book my first getaway (or even offer a spare room) through your service!
We will completely launch by (Northern Hemisphere) summer and estimate that we can get a few hundred homes listed this summer to rent.
Finally, can you tell us about the individuals that form the Muzbnb team? What seems to be the common driving force in working for this start-up?
Hadi Shakuur, CEO
Muhammad Oda, Chief Networking Officer
Irfan Aziz, Chief Product Officer
Attia Nasar, Director of Communications
We are all driven to empower our Muslim Community. We want to create something that is impactful and valuable. A travel platform focusing on this population is not only necessary and timely, but integral to positive community building.