[Updated 1 October 2020]
HHWT turns five today! We're thrilled to pass this milestone, and with another year under our belt, we can't help but look back to where it all started. ?
How it all began
If you're not familiar with the origins of HHWT, here's how it happened. In 2012, our co-founders Mikhail, Suzana and Elaine were on an exchange programme in Seoul. It was during their stay that they realised that it really was very difficult to find accurate and detailed information on halal food and Muslim-friendly services. It was a toss-up between having to make the long trek to find halal food at an eatery that they didn’t know much about, or to continue having seafood and vegetables for months on end ?
It was truly a blessing in disguise that they experienced how difficult it was for Muslims to find local halal food while travelling, as that's when they realised the need of creating a consolidated space where Muslim travellers would be able to seek out recommendations about what to see and do, especially in countries where halal food is difficult to find. That was where the seed of the idea for HHWT was planted!
Our very first article!
It wasn’t until a few years later that HHWT's first article was published (You can check it out here ?). What started as a side project slowly became something more when our Top 3 Local Halal Food in Korea article went viral (considering the number of readers we had back then ?)!
The success of that first article paved the way for the huge jump that was to come after - following much discussion, our co-founders made a bold decision to leave their jobs at a local media agency to work on HHWT full-time on 1st of October 2015.
The Paris Bombings
Just a short time after HHWT officially started full-time operations, an incident that greatly shaped and solidified the purpose and mission of the company occurred - the Paris bombings that happened in November 2015. Right around that time, Suzana and Melvin went on a trip to Tokyo, where they met with some Japanese acquaintances who had asked them about the event and why such killings by Muslims was happening. It was at that point that they had an epiphany: like many other people throughout the rest of the world, these Japanese colleagues had never had the opportunity to interact with Muslims directly. That's when they realised that travelling could actually be a genuine force for peace through positive interactions between Muslims and non-Muslims via travel.
Some major milestones that happened the last year
The founders with HHWT's very first employee Sabrina
We've grown as a team!
What started off as a tiny team of four has now expanded to a team of almost 15! We've had some new team members come on board this year - you've probably read their articles or see them in our posting on social media. If you're located in Indonesia, you might have also noticed we've started publishing more articles in Bahasa Indonesia, written by our very own Indonesian writers! We also continue to have an incredible group of freelance writers from around the world that help us create the content that goes out to our readers ?
We've braved the COVID-19 crisis
As a travel publication, you can imagine how we felt when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. ? We managed to visit Alishan, Gyeonggi-do, Macau, and Hong Kong right before the global travel shutdown effectively put a stop to international travel for the foreseeable future.
We've had to adjust to working from home and even celebrating Ramadan and not one, but two(!) Eid holidays at home but the silver lining is we've been able to reach out to so many more of our readers about your past and future trips! Thank you for contributing your stories and sharing them with fellow Muslim travellers!
From stunning beachside resorts in Pulau Redang to heart-warming stories behind readers' Hajj experiences we've been able to share personal stories, experiences, and recommendations from our community to help you travel better!
We've had to imagine new ways to travel
Ever since March, we've had to wonder how travel will change after COVID-19. 6 months on, and things are still pretty up in the air! (No pun intended ?) From roadtrips to uncovering hidden gems around our cities, just because we can't take a flight to Japan or Korea doesn't mean we need to stop travelling or exploring.
We've been amazed at how our community has rediscovered their own countries and cities - by taking on new hobbies like cycling to explore KL & Selangor, getting up close with nature by glamping in Cameron Highlands, trying unforgettable Nasi Lemak in Penang, or even enjoying a luxury vacation at The Datai in Langkawi! If you've had an amazing experience you want to share with fellow Muslim travellers, read on to find out how you can get in touch with us. ?
We have a HHWT team mascot now!
If you follow our Instagram stories, you'll probably have seen this cute furball at the end of every Traveler Thursday questions (our weekly Instagram survey where we find out more from our readers!). But as a formal introduction, this is Meeko, Suzana and Melvin's adorable cat! Much beloved by the whole HHWT team (and some of our readers too!), we've unofficially adopted him as our HHWT team mascot. ?
In case you didn't already know (or need a quick re-cap!), here's what we believe in
We strongly believe that the act of travelling can be a force of peace. In spite of all the negativity we hear on the media regarding Islam and Muslims, at HHWT, we know that everyone can play a part to spread peace, understanding and the true beauty of Islam, no matter how small. When we really get the chance to interact with one another and connect over the simple act of sharing a meal or experiencing something new together, can stereotypes and irrational biases be torn down? Changing perspectives and spreading love begins with you! That’s what HHWT is all about – inspiring Muslims to see the world and bringing people from all walks of life together, no matter your religion, age or status ?
We need your help too!
Along the way, we've come to learn a lot of things, but one thing has really become the cornerstone behind our work: the amazing community that makes up our audience. We are continuously humbled by our readers - not only because you help us provide information that in turn helps other Muslim travellers, but also because you share YOUR amazing travel stories with us that genuinely inspire us and others to go out and see the world!
Credit: Zakat.SG on Facebook
At HHWT, our founders have always upheld the importance of our community. It's a fundamental understanding that the collective knowledge of our whole community is the most precious resource of information that needs to be shared. In other words, having a community that shares with each other will always be more powerful than our own individual efforts. So we truly hope you can help us continue our mission to inspire and help Muslim travellers go out and see the world!
With that said, here's a quick recap of how you can help us continue inspiring Muslim travellers:
1. Let us know when there are errors in our content
We do our best to provide information that is up-to-date and accurate when we publish content. However, things often change and we may miss something (for example, a halal eatery may close down, or perhaps the menu changes). If you spot anything within our articles that may be outdated or inaccurate, please do let us know! You can comment on the article in question, reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram, or email us.
2. Share with us when you find new eateries, attractions, and more
While we try to always stay on top of the latest developments, the fact of the matter is, the community often finds out faster! So if you know of any new eateries or awesome promotions that you think should be featured on HHWT? Drop us an email at [email protected] with the details! If you’re a business owner and you would like guaranteed editorial coverage, do fill up our form or drop us an email at [email protected]!
Whether you encounter a halal eatery on your travels, know of a local halal eatery that's just opened or an existing eatery that just got halal-certified, please do share! You can do so through all the same channels mentioned above ? Please also don't be shy to join our Facebook Community Group! It's a great place to share and in turn, ask for tips regarding anything related to travel and Muslim-related travel needs.
3. Share your stories with us
One of the best parts of our jobs is reading the travel stories you share with us. If you have a story idea you'd like to pitch or just want to share your tips or experiences when travelling, drop us an email at [email protected]! Please do also share your travel photos with us on Instagram by using the hashtags #hhwt or #havehalalwilltravel.
4. Support our content by liking, sharing, and commenting on our content
The likes, shares and comments are a huge part in helping get our content out to a wider audience and hopefully inspire more Muslim travellers out there. They are also a hugely appreciated show of encouragement that keeps us going ?
5. Remember that you’re an ambassador of peace
This is one that always bears worth reminding (for ourselves too!). When we travel, we strive to build relationships with others and we hope you continue to do the same. It's also a great reminder to be kind and respectful to all - be it when we're travelling, or even if we're just interacting with each other online ?
To end this, we'd just like to say, from the bottom of our hearts: THANK YOU. Thank you for helping us to improve, for sharing information, and for helping the community. Thank you for these past five years. It's truly an honour and a privilege to have you as our readers and to be able to interact with you and hear your stories. To many more years to come, insyaallah!
The HHWT Team.