The city of Yinchuan (located 600 miles west of Beijing) is the capital of the Ningxia region that has a majority Muslim population (Hui Muslims). China is spending close to $3.5 billion to turn it into a “World Muslim City” to improve its relationship with the Arab world.
This huge theme park, known as the ‘Hui Culture Park’ will be replete with a mosque-like “Golden Palace,” Arabic street signs, and an elaborate light and dance show inspired by The Thousand and One Nights (version in which Aladdin was born in China). Women visitors will have the option to cover themselves in traditional clothing.
So far, the park has drawn few visitors. But soon the region will have direct flights from Amman and Kuala Lumpur, and more visitors from Muslim countries are expected to visit China’s Muslim Disneyland.
In the past few years, China been criticized for its repressive treatment of Muslims in the Xinjian region). Few months back, the Islamic State even released a chant, in fluent Mandarin, calling on Muslims in China to “wake up” and overcome “a century of slavery.”
By promoting a more positive image of Chinese Islam (that fits the Communist Party vision), China hopes to improve relations with the Arab world – for more economic investment and also to shift attention from the controversy surrounding china’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority.