Dry locations promote virtues

Sharjah, Doha and Dubai are jointly leading the Shariah-compliant Mice market

DEMAND for Shariah-compliant meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) destinations is on the rise, with many regional and international meeting and incentive groups, as well as corporate groups and business travellers, increasingly looking for meetings facilities that embrace Islamic culture.

Two eagerly anticipated seminar sessions to be featured at the Gulf Incentives, Business Travel and Meetings Expo (GIBTM) will highlight the growth of the Shariah-compliant market.

The sessions include Business Travel in the Middle East and ‘The habits of Middle Eastern business travellers’, based on research conducted by international professional services firm, Ernst and Young. The two seminar sessions will look at the current Mice trends throughout the region and offer trending insights and business forecasts.

Recognised as a regional meeting hub for Islamic groups, many more meeting planners are now looking at Sharjah – a destination that has all of the credentials required to host a Shariah-compliant event and already appeals to a global community of Islamic business travellers, especially those in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait, as well as the UAE’s corporate community.

“Sharjah is the ideal location for planners looking to book Shariah-compliant Mice activities for their Islamic clients,” explains Lois Hall, exhibition manager of GIBTM.

“Sharjah proudly retains its Islamic culture and heritage. It has an abundance of museums, art galleries, mosques and other buildings, which are considered fine examples of Islamic architecture. This combined with leisure attractions such as mega malls, the Corniche, the Blue Souq, the natural beauty of its desert and beaches and major events such as the Sharjah Light Festival,” she adds.

Other destinations such as Doha and Dubai also have a number of Shariah-compliant properties to cater to market.

The Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels, situated in Doha, is well positioned to host Shariah-compliant meetings and events, with a collection of six luxury hotels, two full-service residences and five-star meetings facilities such as meeting rooms, a 980-seated amphitheatre and a 300-seated rooftop theatre.

Dubai’s hotels are also well positioned for the ‘Dry Mice’ market with options like hotel management chain TI’ME Hotels, which has six hotel managed apartments across Dubai and the Northern Emirates and state-of-the-art meetings and events facilities to cater to Islamic business travellers.

“In terms of Shariah-compliant hospitality, it’s not just banning alcohol and pork. It’s applying different swimming pool timings for men, women and children, all food and beverage has to be halal, with modest dress codes throughout for staff and indeed guests,” adds Hall.

GIBTM will provide a forum for in-demand Shariah-compliant destinations such as Bahrain and Kuwait to meet with the 300 hosted buyers attending the event.