A Dutch Muslim entrepreneur has said he hopes to open the first ‘halal’ sex shop in Islam’s holiest city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Abdelaziz Aouragh, founder of the Amsterdam-based El Asira online shop that sells “Shariah compliant” sex products, has even consulted clerics on his plans to expand to the city that is visited by millions of Muslims during the annual Haj pilgrimage.
Aouragh’s decision to branch out to Saudi Arabia was reported by the Arabic news website alyaoum24.com. He was quoted as saying that the clerics had stated it would be permissible to sell products that are considered ‘halal’ and would lead to an improvement in sexual relations between a husband and wife.
He said the firm would not offer inflatable dolls or vibrators but products which “increase feelings of sensuality and improve the atmosphere between a couple”.
Aouragh has also said his project is aimed at challenging the stereotypical image of Islam being anti-women as well as the image of Muslim women clad in burqas and confined to kitchens.
There is a lot of love and respect for women in Islam and the El Asira store puts women at the centre, he said.
El Asira, which means "society" or “tribe” in Arabic, launched its range of products in 2010, including sensual oils based on agar wood oil, one of the world's most expensive natural raw materials. Its products have been approved by the Muslim community in the Netherlands.
Aouragh, who is of Moroccan descent, launched El Asira after discovering “his passion for sensuality in Islam”, according to the firm’s website. He says on the website that if couples don’t take the time to show love for their partner or themselves, they won’t be able to reach a “deeper sensual, sexual or spiritual connection”.
“That’s what El Asira is trying to accomplish,” he said. El Asira describes itself as completely Shariah compliant.
Last year, El Asira forged an alliance with Beate Uhse, Germany’s largest erotic retailer. At the time, Aouragh said his firm would take 18 of its Islamic branded products to the market through Beate Uhse. "Considering we're targeting a (global) market of around 1.8 billion people, the potential is huge," he added.
Saudi Arabia is governed by Shariah law and the country has been criticized for its treatment of women. It is illegal for women to drive or travel abroad without a male accompanying them.