Islamic Hotels Will Soon Be a ‘Riyal’ Thing

A Reuters news item on Abdulla Mohamed Almulla, chairman of Dubai-based Almullah Hospitality
reports he has a hefty $2 billion plan to develop an Islamic-compliant
hotel chain that appeals to lifestyle travelers — both Muslim and

Like friendly Disney and Universal Studio destinations that
successfully continue to attract the Midwest family crowds, Almulla
Hospitality’s hotels will be built featuring Islamic code to attract
Muslim (and non-Muslim) business and leisure guests. That includes no
alcohol and Halal-food only.

Think Branson but different. Separate floors for men and women who travel alone, prayer areas in the lobby and no-pork menus.

Almulla will reveal his hotel company plan in front of potential
investors who will be attending the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference
this May in Dubai. According to Almulla Hospitality, the plan includes
building 90 multi-brand hotels in such destinations as Saudia Arabia,
the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Malaysia and Thailand.

Last July the Packaged Traveler Insider
wrote that faith-based travel is one of the fastest growing markets,
evolving from a one-time niche to mainstream. The article noted that
religious travel earned a record $18 billion in 2006. Additionally, the
World Tourism Organization reports that travelers from the Gulf Co-operation Council countries spend over $12 billion annually on leisure travel alone.

One has to wonder though. Will the new Islamic hotel wave create
a flood in the Mideast travel market, with many of the world’s leading
hotel brands announcing the development and/or recent openings of
spectacular 5-star hotel in the very same regions? (Cough. W hotels.
Cough.) And what will travelers prefer? An Islamic-compliant hotel or
one with signature cocktails and bikini-clad pools?