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Growing popularity of Islamic hotels

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  • Growing popularity of Islamic hotels

    By Zoe Sinclair (Our staff reporter)
    4 April 2008

    Islamic hotels are becoming increasingly popular with Muslims and non-Muslims alike for their quiet, family-friendly approach, according to the manager of one of Dubai's oldest establishments.

    Islamic hotel brands are springing up in the UAE and the Middle East with their developers citing the concept's popularity and as Jawhara Group General Manager Hani Lashin quotes, a nearly 100 per cent occupancy, even in Dubai, is hard to argue with.

    Jawhara, including Jawhara Gardens, Jawhara Apartments and Jawhara Metro, was the first company with an Islamic hotel in Dubai 27 years ago and the collection of hotels has since been certified to international standards, as well as being Shariah-compliant.

    Some of the key features of an Islamic hotel, or Shariah-compliant hotel, include serving of halal food, and women staff attired in dresses that comply with the Muslim culture. Also, no alcohol is sold in the hotel nor it is allowed in. There are also facilities like ladies-only swimming pools.

    The hotels receive many guests from the CIS and Baltic countries, where there are large Muslim populations.

    However, strong clientele sources also include Germany and Korea, according to Lashin.

    "80 per cent of our clients are non-Muslim," Lashin said. Part of the attraction is a quiet and peaceful stay.

    "Our guests are regulars and long-staying," Lashin said.

    "We're providing a quiet environment. The hotel is for married couples who want something very quiet, very smooth."

    Around 40 per cent of the staff are Muslims, but more importantly according to Lashin, the staff all have experience in five star hotels, abide by the staff rules and attend weekly lectures for understanding Islam.

    Lashin said the hotels' Shariah compliance is an important feature, but what keeps guests returning should be excellent service.

    With 300 million Muslims in the Arab world and over one billion worldwide, Lashin estimates that Islamic hotels will comprise at least 40 per cent of the market in the UAE within the next five years.

    Lashin pointed to the success of Islamic banks which have mushroomed across the UAE in recent years.

    Almulla hospitality is launching an Islamic hotel chain while Shaza hotels, an alcohol-free luxury chain, plans to open its first hotel in Dubai in the next few years.

    "The occupancy rates speak for themselves," Lashin said.

    "We've had more than 96 per cent occupancy since January and in March, with no conferences or exhibitions in Dubai, we have 100 per cent occupancy.

    "Even with the accommodation shortage, this is higher than Dubai hotels' average. Islamic hotels will not be the exception. It's the norm."
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