After 9/11 it was difficult for many Muslims to travel to Europe and the US, so Malaysia’s capital stepped in to welcome them – a move that’s paying off

A little patch of grass sits between international banks and flashy skyscrapers in downtown Kuala Lumpur. There’s a big statue of a water jug, and some gold and red ramadas (gazebos) meant to recall traditional Moroccan architecture. On the edge of the park are kebab stands and a small mall. The gate at the entrance reads Ain Arabia.

Like many purpose-built tourist attractions, this Arab-themed urban village in Malaysia’s capital is a bit hokey, and given the searing sun, few people mill around for long. But when it was built in 2005, the “Eye of Arabia” was a small gesture to Middle Eastern and Muslim travellers – that whatever other countries might think of Muslims, they were welcome in Kuala Lumpur.

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