Finding a halal restaurant just became significantly easier for American Muslims, thanks to a new smart phone application launched this month that makes dietary religious observance a piece of cake.
Ask dietary-cautious Muslims in the west what their major challenge is when it comes to eating religiously-permitted foods and they'll say finding a halal place on-the-go. But with Halalpal, an iPhone application that locates halal restaurants and eateries throughout the United States, sticking to a halal diet has become much easier.
The search engine application designed for Apple’s iPhone gives users a list of nearby restaurants with maps, contact information, price categories and recommendations.
The application scans the internet -- mainly Google, Yahoo, Yelp and the online guide to halal restaurants and products known as Zabihah.com -- to produce a list of halal eateries sorted by distance.
Rami Dodin, Halalpal's 26-year-old founder, said his application fills the gap between technology and religion in daily life. After years of working in the IT business, Dodin realized there was a void between the services offered by the latest technologies and gadgets on the one hand and the everyday local needs of Muslim Americans on the other.
"There is an 'access gap' between local halal businesses and their goers that Halalpal fills," Dodin, who is based in San Francisco, told Al Arabiya. "Many Muslims have iPhones and blackberry interfaces that are useful on the whole but do not have services that cater specifically to their religious local needs."
"Halal eating is a very niche thing and it is hard to get specific search results off of Google and Yahoo because they do not target that specific customer group," he explained.
The first portable service of its kind, Halalpal came about after several years Dodin helped design and run NearBuy.it, a general purpose local search engine. An analysis of search results showed an increasing interest in halal eateries and products.
"We found people are reaching out for this service and this gave us the inspiration to create a special application for halal users," said Dodin, adding that the aim of any business is to tune in and respond to the needs of customers.