I must admire this airport. Suvarnabhumi (pronounce su-van-na-pum) is the world’s third largest single building airport terminal (563.000 square meter) and up to now it still holds the title of airport with the highest air control tower (132.2 m). But more importantly for me, this Buddhist country’s airport provides muslim with musholla (muslim prayer room) and some halal food stalls.
I noticed this prayer room only in my second visit to this airport. I saw the sign after I checked in at PAL counter near to gate 9 (level 4), one day in Dec’09 in my departure to see my wife, Sarah, in the Philipine. The sign was there near the wrapping-luggage-service, clearly point the location of the Muslim Prayer Room down stair. It is situated in the departure hall at the linking area between international passengers terminal 1 and 2.
Following the sign, it is easy to find the prayer room. It is located at level 3. The prayer room is comfortable and a perfect place to get serenity among the busy buzzy area. After opened the door you’ll find the ablution area at the left. Near to the ablution area, there are some chairs provided to take off your shoes or just take some rest. The rack for shoes is just next to the chairs.
In the main prayer room, you’ll find the area is nice and clean and completed with these features: a clock, strips of carpets for making shaf, a simple standing podium, a plastic chair for the khotib or preacher, kiblah direction sign, and digital sholat schedule. This prayer room can accommodate about 80 men jama’ah. Women jama’ah area is separated by a folding board hijab and I’m not sure how many women jama’ah can be accommodated, maybe around 20.
But wait a minute! I just found that there are actually two muslim prayer rooms available in this blue-nuanced airport. Beside the one mentioned earlier, there is another prayer room in the departure hall of the domestic terminal. Such a relieve both domestic and international terminals have this facility as there are no mosques in the close proximity to the airport.
I haven’t traveled a lot to spot which international airports in other countries have prayer facilities for muslim. I’ve been to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, and found that they had no such room for muslims. I asked to local muslimah (I recognize her from her jilbab) there and she also didn’t know any prayer room in the area.
Thailand, a non-muslim country, as far as I can see, has been serious in providing such facility for muslims who have to practice their obligatory prayer 5 times a day. Muslim in this country constitutes 7% of the total population. But for airport, the main reason why there’s a muslim prayer room facility is maybe more because of the considerable number of muslim tourists in Thailand.
Thailand is well known by its magnificent tourism destinations. It becomes one of the main destinations for international tourists including they who come from muslim countries like middle east countries, Indonesia, Malaysia. However, now more middle eastern come for another purpose that Thailand seriously offers: medical or health tourism.
With more muslims are coming, opportunity for other business is blooming: halal food. In Suvarnabhum, there are some halal food vendors among the restaurants at level 3. More about this info can be checked out in my next posting : Suvarnabhumi – Halal Food.