World

Dutch halal sex shop hooks up with German erotic giant

In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 a hologram of a beckoning prostitute is shown at the entrance of the 'Red Light Secrets' museum in Amsterdam. (AP Photo/Evert Elzinga)

THE HAGUE: A Dutch online shop selling halal sex products announced Wednesday an alliance with Europe's largest erotic retailer to tap into the lucrative Muslim market, potentially worth billions of euros.

The founder of Amsterdam-based El Asira, Abdelaziz Aouragh, said the deal with Frankfurt-listed Beate Uhse came four years after his company first launched a range of erotic products that do not contravene Sharia law.

El Asira, which means "Society" in Arabic, launched its range of discreet products in 2010, including sensual oils based on the highly sought-after agar wood oil -- one of the world's most expensive natural raw materials -- to massive acclaim and approval from the local Muslim community.

"We will take 18 of our Islamic branded products to the market through Beate Uhse," Aouragh told AFP.

"Considering we're targeting a (global) market of around 1.8 billion people, the potential is huge," he said.

Beate Uhse, based in Germany's Flensburg, approached El Asira in 2012 with a business proposal to throw its weight behind the Dutch company to market their products.

"We think we can learn a lot from El Asira on how to tap into the Muslim erotic market," Beate Uhse spokeswoman Linda Blommaert told AFP.

Both Aouragh and Blommaert stress the venture is far removed from the traditional sex shop image of dildos and pornography that would not be permitted under Islamic law.

"The products we're putting on the market have nothing to do with blow-up dolls or vibrators," said Aouragh, a second-generation Amsterdammer of Moroccan descent.

"It's not about the sex act, it's what's going on around it. Our products increase the atmosphere and heighten feelings of sensuality," he said.

Beate Uhse is a company that "respects women and presents its products in a woman-friendly environment. That's why we believe there's no conflict in working with them," Aouragh added.

Beate Uhse, which started off in 1946 distributing pamphlets about family planning, last year posted a turnover of 142 million euros ($193 million) and has 96 shops in 11 European countries.

Beate Uhse was set up by Germany's only woman stunt pilot in the 1930s, Beate Uhse-Rotermund, who opened a sex store in Flensburg in 1962 to much controversy.

Both Aouragh and Blommaert declined to say how much money was involved in the joint venture.

The two companies are now looking into the possibility of opening a concept store for halal sex products in Saudi Arabia's Mecca, the holiest place in Islam, Aouragh said.

Some three million pilgrims converge on the city during the annual hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam.

 

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