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Published on Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Are Sharia-compliant hotels the next big thing?

DUBAI - The Islamic hospitality market, or Sharia-compliant hotels, is pegged to be one of the fastest growing hospitality segments, according to Jonathan Worsley conference co-organiser, Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC).

He said that Dubai-based hospitality group Almulla Hospitality, has recently launched its Sharia-compliant hotel portfolio, comprising three brand tiers.

The group has also cited plans to target development in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Egypt and Malaysia in the first instance, with Thailand and Europe following closely behind.

“Almulla joins other UAE-based players including Shaza Hotels from Kempinski and Tamani Hotels & Suites from KM Group among others,” he said.

Rotana too has tickled the sector recently launching Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts with an offer-specific ‘no-alcohol’ label.

Almulla Hospitality’s chairman, Abdulla Almulla, said that the demand for Sharia-compliant accommodation is on the increase and represents 10 per cent of the world tourism market.

‘'In less than a decade Middle East leaders have transformed the landscape and created one of the world's fastest growing regions, with hospitality investment at its core,'’ Almulla said.

“UAE travellers alone spend more than US$4.9 million on travel annually and the Islamic hotel product will be in high-demand, certainly reaching 10 per cent in the short-term.’'

The Rezidor Hotel Group has estimated that the Sharia-compliant hospitality market will grow by 20 per cent per year over the next decade.

This year’s AHIC, from May 3-5, will spotlight new hospitality trends in its session dubbed ‘Multi-faceted future of Islamic Hospitality’ and will further beg the question, are Sharia-compliant hotels the next big thing or a short-term trend?

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