New Shariah hotels launched for Islamic travellers


DUBAI-BASED hospitality group Almulla has launched a Shariah-compliant hotel brand portfolio to cater to demand from Muslim and non-Muslim travellers.

The hotel group plans to have 30 properties under three core brand names – Cliftonwood, Adham and Wings – by the end of 2008, with Malaysia being one of its targeted destinations. 
The group’s overall strategy was to reach 150 hotels by 2013 with expected total investment of over $2 billion, it said in a statement issued in conjunction with the launch on Wednesday. 
Almulla Hospitality chairman Abdulla M Almulla said institutional investors and high net worth individuals would be the backbone for such a growth drive. 
He said although there were plenty of individual shariah-compliant hotels worldwide, their positioning was usually dictated by the owner, either as an independent hotel, one within a chain or due to the syariah laws of a country where they are situated. 
“Our brand proposition is so distinct that guests will be confident that our brand values have universal consistency,” he added in the statement. 
Almulla said the Muslim traveller market was expanding around the world due to the increasing wealth in their communities, combined with conscious lifestyle living, and it represented 10 per cent of the world tourism market, being one of the fastest growing segments. 
Their average spending is 10 per cent to 50 per cent higher than that of the average leisure or business traveller. 
“The bottomline is that conscious lifestyle tourism is expected to grow at a rate of 20 per cent per annum, five times more than the average traditional market segment,” the group said. 
According to the group, the specific destinations targeted are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan, Egypt, Malaysia and Thailand. 
It is also looking forward to setting up operations in Europe with 15 deluxe hotels, to be followed by 25 business hotels in “the second European wave”. 
The group plans to capture the GCC travellers who contribute over $12 billion annually on leisure travel alone. 
According to the World Tourism Organisation, Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest outbound travel markets in terms of average spend with tourists from the kingdom spending $6.7billion annually on overseas travel.
UAE travellers are close behind, at more than $4.9mil, averaging $1,700 per trip, which is $500 higher than the European average. 
The group also said that all properties operating under the brands would serve only halal prepared food, as interpreted by Shariah laws and the Shariah supervisory board.