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As the $140 billon Muslim travel market looks to discover destinations beyond the Middle East, corporations want their share of Muslims’ spending power, and MasterCard wants to impact where they spend.

MasterCard announced yesterday it’s partnering with Crescent Rating, a Singapore-based Muslim travel rating company, to create the Global Muslim Travel Index. The index launches in January and will be updated quarterly. The ratings will show which destinations are welcoming to Muslims and further inform the industry of the growth potential each destination has to offer.

This isn’t MasterCard’s first venture into ranking destinations, but its extension to specifically examine the Muslim travel market signals the steady growth rate of this traveler population. With its 2014 Global Destination Cities Index, MasterCard ranked four predominantly Muslim cities in the top 20 destination cities by international overnight visitors, representing the rise of Islamic cities as destinations, as well.

Crescent Rating also ranked the most friendly destinations for Muslims this year, giving Malaysia the top spot on the Islamic countries’ list. For non-Islamic countries, Singapore is first, followed by South Africa and Thailand.

“MasterCard and Crescent Rating aim to proactively support the Muslim travel and tourism segment as a means to further strengthen their leadership in the development of Muslim lifestyle products,” Crescent Rating states.

In 2020, the Muslim travel market is projected to spend $200 billion, a 42% increase from the $140 billion they’ll spend this year.

The partnership was announced this week at the World Islamic Economic Forum in Dubai, where MasterCard also announced a partnership with Zilzar, a global Muslim lifestyle marketplace platform. The collaboration will involve MasterCard offering guidance on securing and growing Zilzar’s payment technology infrastructure.

Photo Credit: Muslim travelers are expected to be a $200 billion market by 2020. Pictured, a Muslim couple in front of the fountain of the main square of Istanbul. Moyan Brenn /