A plan to develop an Islamic compliant hotel brand portfolio appealing to both muslim and non muslim travellers is to be outlined at AHIC.
Abdulla Mohamed Almulla, chairman of Dubai based Almulla Hospitality, will reveal details of a multi brand chain of international hotels operating under a Shari'ah supervisory board with universal codes such as no alcohol and halal food only under the brand names of Cliftonwood, Adham and Wings.
The company plans to grow its portfolio through management contracts, joint venture investments and selective acquisitions across the world using a variety of investment structures, including equity funds. All financial structures will conform to the Islamic ban on interest.
Recent surveys have revealed plans for $3 trillion worth of tourist developments in the Middle East between now and 2020 - $1 trillion for around 900 hotels. Almulla is aiming to capture between five and 10 per cent of that growth, ie between 45 and 90 hotels.
Almulla explained that within Islamic hotels, the concept is wider than simply being a hotel that does not serve alcohol and provides halal food. A Shari'ah compliant hotel is governed by independent religious scholars, setting cultural standards for the hotel which go beyond the concept of a simply a 'dry' hotel such as a non smoking environment for the entire hotel, with no cigarettes or shisha service allowed. The type of art used in the hotels, and the control of media, audio and video are other examples.
“There are individual Shari'ah-compliant hotels throughout the world. But our brand proposition is international – whether the country is Muslim or not - so that guests will be confident of our universal consistency,” he said.
Cliftonwood is their flagship five star luxury brand where properties will consist of a fusion of city boutique hotels and up market resorts with the emphasis on Islamic culture, well being and contemporary lifestyle. The four star deluxe Adham Hotels will be designed principally for business travellers and the three star Wings brand will offer basic amenities for the cost conscious traveller.
He said that the main drivers for this surge in the Middle Eastern market for Islamic hotels were the surge in the oil price, increasing the money supply available for investment, combined with an increase in Islamic financial institutions which will only invest in Shari'ah compliant products. Islamic hotels were part of that portfolio diversification and individual income investors were displaying the same behaviour.
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