icon
icon
article hero

HHWT Turns 4: Meet The Team Behind Your Travel Articles And Videos

AvatarName

Have Halal Will Travel  •  Oct 01, 2019

icon

Salam everyone! It's been 3 years since we last introduced you to the team, and since then, we've grown from a small team of 4 to 15 😊 Credit: Giphy And it's all thanks to your support that we've managed to come this far 🤗 As you know by now, we love learning more about our readers (that's you!) through your comments and encouragements but we want you to know more about us too, so we can have an even better relationship 😉 As we turn 4 today, we thought it'll be a great idea to introduce you to the team. So, read on to find out what we do in HHWT, our favourite travel experiences and what it means to be a part of HHWT (plus useful travel tips for you!) P.S. If you've just started following us, click here to read about our story, our mission and how you can help a fellow Muslim traveller 🤗
Mikhail
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT. Salam, I’m Mikhail, the noisiest person in the office 😆 You can usually find me walking around or hanging out by the coffee machine. I’m the CEO of the company. In short, my job is to be a bridge between HHWT and external parties (governments, brands, stakeholders etc.). I spend most of my time aligning various teams so we can row towards our intended destination. (yes, definitely not as exciting as Suzana or Elaine, but more on that below!) 2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT? In today’s world, with glitzy bitcoin prices and unicorns minted every other week, it’s hard to find startups that are truly out there to advance a social mission. From the beginning, we’ve recognised travel as a force for peace, and through our work with various governments and international brands, I'm proud to say that we’re inching closer towards a world where Muslims and non-Muslims can live together in harmony. That is our gift to the world. 3. What’s your favourite travel experience? Definitely Maldives! Now I understand why there are so many pictures of Maldives that end up becoming screensavers or wallpapers! 4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers? Don’t travel as an observer, travel as a participant. Eat their food (of course, check first !), speak their language, get uncomfortable. And when you do, you will realise that people aren’t that different. A sign for those who understand. 
Suzana
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT. Hi! I’m Suzana, one of the 3 co-founders of HHWT. I love travelling (no surprise haha), taking photos, eating local food (I plan my itinerary by finding the food I want to try first), animals and my cat, Meeko ❤️ I also head the content team at HHWT so if you have any ideas on what else we can do to help the Muslim community travel more easily, drop us a message 🙂 2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT? While HHWT has been a rollercoaster ride, work has never been so fulfilling. We help Muslims make that dream trip come true, we’re helping brands and tourism organizations better meet the needs of the Muslim community and most importantly, we’re closing the gap between people of different backgrounds which is what we really need in our world today. 3. What’s your favourite travel experience? My honeymoon in the Maldives - crystal clear water (perfect for snorkelling!), delicious food, the best sunrises and sunsets. It was love at first sight and I keep trying to find reasons to go back. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I finally get to go on my African safari 🦒 4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers? I love this Japanese phrase, 一期一会 (Ichi-go-ichi-e), which means everything only happens once. So when you travel, put away your phone, immerse yourself and treasure the moment!
Elaine
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT. I’m Elaine, one of the co-founders of HHWT, and I handle the business development and partnerships for the company. What that means is that I get to work with many exciting global brands, tourism organizations and partners to better help them understand about the Muslim segment, their needs and how they can best cater for this market. 2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT?  For me, it’s about showing people the importance of diversity, on how HHWT doesn’t just reach out/impact Muslims, but really about bringing people from different backgrounds together. I get asked a lot, on why a non-Muslim is a part of the founding team of HHWT and, it’s really seeing that understanding that happens when the work we do and our content help bring Muslims to more places, and at times together with their non-Muslim friends.  As part of my role as well, being able to make a difference in brands’ and tourism organizations’ plans and strategies with the knowledge and insights that we gather from our audience. P.S. Check out what me and my colleague, Cheng Sim, learnt when we tried a whole day of fasting during Ramadan this year! 3. What’s your favourite travel experience? Back in 2012 when Suzana and I spent 4 full days in Orlando visiting Disney World and Universal Studios! It was crazy hot and coincided with the 4th of July, but we had such an amazing time as it was our first time visiting both parks. We spent more than 12hours in the parks (yay for extended hours!) and even got to watch the 4th of July fireworks show in Disney World. Honorary mention to the amazing trip our team took to New Zealand, as it was the very first time I could say that my jaw dropped at seeing the stunning landscapes in New Zealand. I’ve never seen a lake so blue in my life!  4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers?  Speaking with the locals! There’s no better way to really understand more about the country or get the best tips than from the locals, and most of the time, you’ll realise that most people are actually really friendly and happy to share.
Atiqah
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT.
My name is Atiqah and I’m a writer at HHWT! As part of the editorial team, I help write the content that gets published on our site and social media platforms. I’m a fan of baked goods, parks, and good coffee. 2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT? I genuinely believe that compassion and kindness for others stem from meeting different people and being exposed to different environments, which is why travel is such a powerful tool. Working at HHWT for me means being anchored by the desire to help fellow Muslims travel further and better, which in turn, I hope, breeds understanding and tolerance. It’s also continuously humbling to be able to interact with our community. Hearing your travel stories or getting input or help from you that in turn can be shared with others is one of my favourite parts of the job!  3. What’s your favourite travel experience?  Exploring New York City in 2014. It was the first time I travelled on my own to a place I was completely unfamiliar with. I remember being spellbound by this iconic city and just drinking in everything it had to offer, from the touristy places to the grimy subway stations to the incredible Metropolitan Museum of Art (my favourite museum in the world so far!). The fact that I was alone also made it a much more introspective trip, and I loved having those moments of being able to reflect on where I was not just geographically, but also in life and who I was as a person. 4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers? Don’t write off potential travel destinations with preconceived notions. Before I started working for HHWT, several destinations were low on my travel bucket list just because I didn’t really know what was there and therefore didn’t see the need to visit. But if you keep an open mind, you’d surprised! Some of the places that surprised me include Yokohama, Busan and the Tohoku region of Japan - I’d love for other people to visit these places too! 
Khaliesah
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT. Hi! I’m Khaliesah and I’m part of the BD (business development) team.  I work with our team to seek new clients, build relationships with them and help brands understand the Muslim market a little bit more - so that their products and services are better catered for Muslims 😊 Other than that, I also manage our current branded campaigns and work closely with our writers and videographers to ensure that our branded content meets the client’s objectives and that it’s helpful to our readers too! When I’m not busy petting every cat I see or watching shows on Netflix (I love Black Mirror and Brooklyn 99!), I’m probably catching up on content from 7 Korean boys in this band called BTS during my free time… you might have heard of them 😜 Other hobbies include reading and scrapbooking.  2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT?  There are jobs that you do only because you need the income (and that is totally okay), but being at HHWT lets me do that while giving me a sense of purpose, one that I believe in. I get to work directly with brands and communicate pain points of readers so that products are better catered for Muslims. I also appreciate the diversity that the team brings and that we are all working towards the same goal.  3. What’s your favourite travel experience? I went on a week-long road trip to Western Australia with 3 of my friends earlier this year, and I was driving almost the whole time. It was nerve-wracking because I haven’t driven in a long time prior to the trip and the fact that we pulled it off is amazing to me, I still don’t know how we did that!   There were a lot of memorable experiences but one that I’ll never forget is how my friends and I stopped at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere to take photos. When we drove off to our next location (an hour away), we realised that one of our disposable cameras were missing and that it fell off the hood of the car when we were taking photos earlier. The ridiculous part was that we found the disposable camera when we were driving back (in the dark!!) even though we couldn’t remember exactly where we stopped. When we looked back at our photos, the little disposable camera could be seen in the background  😂  4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers? Don’t over-plan! I tend to be an organised person and pack my itinerary to the brim because I don’t want to miss anything out, but I always find myself exhausted with no time to decompress during the trip. Pick your battles and priorities, it’s important to have some days where you have little activities and plans so that you can take in the destination at your own time and pace.
Shasha
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT.
Hi, I’m Shasha and I’m a writer at HHWT! I help to look for new eateries and destinations to introduce to our readers, and in-between I’m lucky enough to get to go for food tastings and trips overseas 😬 When I’m not in the office, I can usually be found trying out a new eatery (I try to visit 1 new place each week!), or taking long walks through the city without any real end destination in mind.  2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT?  I actually followed HHWT and used our guides for at least a year before I applied to work here, so I felt a little starstruck when I got the job. 😅 Once I got over the initial awe, I feel very thankful to have been given this chance to combine all of the things I love - travel, eating good food, and telling stories! Having to keep up with food and travel trends makes me feel really in-tune with what’s going on around me, and when someone tells me that my news article or travel guide introduced something new to them I feel a sense of accomplishment. So long as I can travel and eat and experience the world around me, my work at HHWT has a very personal and important meaning to me as I can share my experience with others to help our readers travel too! 3. What’s your favourite travel experience?  I travelled to Montreal in 2017 and finally got to experience snow for the first time! It was also my first time travelling such a far distance (and experiencing bad jetlag 😆) but I think it really ignited my desire to go even further and explore new places.  To be honest most of the trip consisted of me falling very sick, yelling and grabbing onto my friends to avoid falling (protip: if you’re anywhere with snow please get shoes with good traction and grip), and shivering as my nose steadily turned redder and redder against the cold wind. It sounds awful, but there were so many good and heartfelt moments in-between too! I experienced the worst and best of travel in one experience, and it only made me want to try again and keep trying until I check every possible inch of the world off my bucket list. 4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers?  Pack light to give yourself more space to do the things you want to do. Recently I started packing a lot lighter for trips (bought a backpack, switched to soap bars for toiletries, etc.). At first, it was just because I didn’t want to deal with dragging heavy luggage up and down stairs but then I realised it freed up my hands while I was on the go and I could be more aware of my surroundings! It does take lots of practice and time to get used to packing less though but you can check out our article on packing light to save massive luggage space 🤗
Tafheem
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT. Salam! My name is Tafheem and I am an extroverted random mix of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. I love breaking the rules even though they might backfire sometimes but that's just me. For some people, I am stubborn and annoying while for others I am the friendliest person they have ever known. At HHWT, I work as the digital product manager and my task is to turn the ideas in the founders' minds into a reality which is much easier said than done 😝 Hence my work requires me to know what's going on in everyone's mind (even our users - that's you!) to find opportunities and build products which help the business grow! OH also, I love to travel :) 2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT?  Born in Pakistan and raised in Saudi, I understood clearly what HHWT was trying to accomplish and I loved it. As a Muslim traveller, I would always think of some destinations as not accessible for me due to food/environment restrictions - that's what I thought but had no platform to clarify or guide me against it. But when I learned about HHWT, instantly felt this is it! and wanted to be part of making it happen on a global scale.  3. What’s your favourite travel experience? Among many, my favourite experience to date was taking my wife (a Malaysian) to my home country, Pakistan for the very first time! It was a unique experience in many ways. For one I was able to give my wife an experience which she probably would never have had as travelling to Pakistan was never part of her bucket list (before meeting me of course haha). It was an exciting experience to introduce her to our culture, food, family and everything that makes us, US! 4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers?  Do not make tourist spots your main priority when travelling to different countries. Yes, you should visit the famous places but make time to get involved in the culture! Go down the street and eat/mingle with the locals at the food stall, listen to their stories and recommendations! Trust me, some places which I've visited in my travels were nowhere to be found on Google but were advised by the locals 🤗 You won't regret it! 
Faruq
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT. I’m Faruq and it’s been a year and 9 months since I started my journey with HHWT as a writer. Besides uncovering travel hacks and writing about Muslim-friendly options and prayer spaces for Muslim travellers, I also gather travel experiences and inspiring stories from the community. There are a million reasons why I love travelling but catching gorgeous sunsets, having the window seat on a plane and exploring a busy city are probably what I love the most. When I'm not working, you'll most likely find me hanging out with friends over good food, spending quality time with my family, or daydreaming a lot about my next holiday destination 😉 2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT? I’m grateful for having a job which gives me meaning (the feeling I get when some of you thank us while we’re on a media trip is priceless!) And that’s what keeps me going on tough days - to know that somebody out there has benefited from my work. It also spurs me to do better each day and strive to provide the best and most accurate information we can for Muslim travellers! It’s not easy and we will fall short but we’ll never stop trying and we thank you for being so patient with us! 3. What’s your favourite travel experience? I have so many favourite moments and it’ll be impossible to list all of them. But my current favourite would have to be paragliding in Switzerland (which I just got back from very recently!) The feeling of being so close to picturesque mountains and over a valley of towns was indescribable. It was a view that I could never have imagined myself seeing and I remember being close to tears because it was so breathtaking 😍 4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers? Just go for it and don’t overthink things because the moment will pass and you won’t want to live in regret! Believe it or not, I had wanted to give up paragliding because of the cost but I’m so glad I didn’t. There’s nothing more valuable than a travel experience that you’ll remember for years. 
Ili
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT Hi there! I’m Ili and I’m a really new writer at HHWT (we’re talking 6 days here 😊). I’m part of the editorial team that brainstorms and publishes content on travel, food and inspirational stories, among other things. Besides spending way too much time on Youtube watching food videos and comedy bits, I'm probably looking at travel photos from around the world and wishing I was there instead.   2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT? I love every aspect of travel. From eating local food in another country to understanding unfamiliar cultures - travel opens your mind and eyes to an entire world out there that you never knew existed. So, to be working with a team that not only encourages Muslims to see the world but also champions peace and diversity through travel is incredibly meaningful.   3. What’s your favourite travel experience?  My first ever solo trip to Portland, Oregon during spring break. I got lost for hours on end in a park, had ice cream for breakfast (shoutout to the Salt & Straw lady who didn’t judge me for it) and ended up travelling around the city with my Japanese and Canadian bunkmates.  4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers? Always check operating hours! Restaurants, public transportation, accommodations, events, rides, flower fields, ticket booths - you get the point. Cause sometimes excitement gets the best of you and sometimes you end up walking really far only to find that the bakery you’ve been wanting to go to closed an hour ago. Just saying. 
Cheng Sim
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT Hi, I'm Cheng Sim! As a writer for HHWT, I'm always on the lookout for great travel stories, new destinations and trends to feature. I also create branded articles for various tourism boards, airlines and other campaigns. 2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT?  As non-Muslim writing for HHWT, it gives me the chance to help Muslim travellers to see the world more easily. Whether it's finding halal food in Southeast Asia or a Muslim-friendly honeymoon destination, every discovery will lead me (and the team) closer to our mission. And I've learned a fair bit since I started writing for the Muslim community too! Read more about my experience here 3. What’s your favourite travel experience? Walking on the Great Wall of China was one of my favourite experiences ever! The Wall has many sections, and I went to Badaling (steep steps and great for fitness junkies) and Mutianyu (easy slopes and has the best scenery). It was winter and my group had almost the whole Wall to ourselves! Till this day, it feels surreal to explore one of the Seven Wonders of the World 😍 4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers? When travelling with your parents, plan your itinerary around their needs and ability. Walking for 15 minutes to a tourist attraction may seem doable, but not for someone who is elderly. The same goes to eating super spicy ramen or going bungee jumping. As much as you enjoy travelling at your own speed, their comfort is key! Splurge on taxi rides for long journeys or explore a relaxing sightseeing spot for a change.
Amirah
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT.  Hello! I'm Amirah and I'm part of the finance team in HHWT. I mainly help the team with invoicing and finances as well as with the admin stuff.  Other than spending quite some time reading manga and having cookies with tea, I'm either sleeping, watching cute animal videos or bugging my parents to let me travel with my friends. 2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT? I love travelling and giving back to the community so it’s pretty amazing to be part of a team who share a similar purpose of helping the community and also spreading peace and diversity through travel. Though I don't work with brands nor our readers directly, it pleases me that I'm easing the team to do their work at their utmost best. 3. What’s your favourite travel experience?  My trip to Japan with my cousins is surely one of my favourites! I've always wanted to visit Japan, the land of beautiful sceneries, anime and Japanese food, and when the opportunity to travel to Japan with my cousins came up, I grabbed the chance.  4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers?    Understand the ability and needs of the people you are travelling with; and if possible, to travel with those who have a similar travelling style with you. P.S. Check out our article on choosing the right travel buddy Though there is a tendency to fit as many things to do in your itinerary, it’s also better to compromise and have a slower pace to fully immerse yourself in all your travelling experiences. 
Minhaal
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT
Hi, I am Minhaal and I design user experience and interface (UX UI). I took this exciting responsibility couple of months back, where I am responsible to make our product user friendly.  2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT? As a Muslim solo traveller, I’ve experienced hard times finding halal food and Muslim-friendly areas to stay and explore. Working with HHWT is all about contributing experiences for Muslims around the world and help them avoid difficulties when travelling. 3. What’s your favourite travel experience? Definitely London - it's the perfect use of this phrase “Old is gold”, where you are surrounded with old and heritage architecture but it's so pleasing to the eyes and shining like gold. 4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers?  Walking around some random streets will allow you to explore more than any tour package or itinerary, but make sure it's safe and you know your way back :) 
Govind
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT. I'm an avid technologist at heart and have been delivering technology solutions since the age of 19. Yes, even when I was in college. That is how much I love technology, its advancement and how businesses leverage it to its commercial advantage. I am the Head of Tech at HHWT. 2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT? I have worked with some successful businesses during my career and the one thing they have in common is excellent leadership, which HHWT has. I believe in the founders' vision from day one as they have set out to shift the paradigm of a niche lifestyle into a general way of life by using technological capabilities. Personally for myself, excellent leadership and a well-founded vision is a great drive and motivation for me to be a part of HHWT. 3. What’s your favourite travel experience? I love travelling to Australia. It is amazing to see how the culture of freedom has been soaked to the bones of the Australians. I really wish that could be replicated globally. 4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers? Always do your research before you visit any country. With the advent of the internet, you don’t need to subscribe to the culture of packaged tours and independently create your own tour itinerary. This will give the traveller much control of what he or she wants to do and heighten the traveller’s overall touring experience.
Gracia
1. Describe yourself and what you do in HHWT. Hello! I'm Gracia and I'm in charge of community management and ads in HHWT! If you've dropped us a message on Facebook, it's likely that I've replied you 😊 2. What does it mean for you to be in HHWT? I personally love travelling and experiencing new cultures. Being able to be part of a community that shares the same passion and interest really excites me. Some of the people closest to me are Muslims and I definitely understand the difficulty of searching for Muslim-friendly food. I look forward to sharing my experience and helping more people to travel and see the world. 3. What’s your favourite travel experience? My most memorable travel experience was my first solo trip when I was 21. I travelled to Fukuoka alone to study Japanese for 6 weeks and travelled around West Japan for 2 weeks. During these 2 months, I met people from all over the world and had many meaningful conversations with them. It's definitely a period that I'll never forget 😊 4. What’s one tip or recommendation about travelling do you have for our readers? Even if things don't turn out as planned, don't fret and try to make the best out of it. I'm sure you will gain new perspectives and interesting experiences along the way! We hope you've enjoyed reading about us, and here's a shoutout to our team of freelance writers, Indonesian translators and tech support as well! InsyaAllah with all your support and duas, we’ll grow even bigger and better. HHWT is very much a labour of love for us, and we hope we can continue to be the one-stop platform for Muslim travellers around the world ❤️