Are There Any Sharia-Based Hotels?
In the last ten years Muslims have become increasingly aware of the need to obtain halal food, to visit halal tourist attractions, to bank Islamically, to take a halal flight, and even to stay in a hotel that is based on sharia principles. The Muslim market in the world is huge and is growing rapidly, with an estimated $500 billion USD per year; and halal food is valued at $ 2.1 trillion USD according to the International Journal of Trade, Economic and Finance, Vol 5. No. 1, February 2014. This is making entrepreneurs begin to look at a sharia business concept.
For example, Muslim tourists are more aware of the need for a halal environment when travelling. They require halal food when visiting a hotel, prefer to not have liquor in their hotel room, would like to be able to exercise freely without having to look at a non-mahram scantily clad, would like to swim in the pool or enjoy a spa in an area that is gender sensitive, do not want to be exposed to gambling, and some may even want to feel confident that no man and woman are able to check into an establishment together without showing a marriage certificate. This is the concept of a Sharia Hotel.
Sharia Compliant Hotels (SCH) is a creative breakthrough that is now cultivated in many countries of the Middle East and within Muslim countries in Asia such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Hotel management must understand the obligation of worship for every Muslim to pray five times a day, so they should provide Qibla direction, prayer rugs, copies of Al Koran, prayer beads in every hotel room, prayer schedule information, assurances of halal food and other facilities that provide comfort for Muslims tourists.
London’s Bermondsey Square Hotel is one of the hotels that has implemented the sharia-based concept. After the hotel was taken over by owners from the Middle East, they no longer allowed alcoholic beverages in the restaurant, no dishes containing pork, no wine, or other illicit materials. (See http://halalfocus.net/uk-welcome-to-hotel-sharia).
While Malaysia, according to Arab News, attracted more than 170,000 tourists from the Gulf countries and became the top ranked holiday destination based on a survey in 2013, it is mentioned that 102.365 tourists from Saudi Arabia visited the country in 2012 and 18.233 from the UAE visited during the same period.
Although the business is promising because of the rapidly increasing market demand, the establishment of such facilities is not without obstacles. As an example of some of the constraints faced by businesses in Malaysia, progress is slow, government bureaucracy to provide halal certificate is delayed and there is a lack of the same standards for SCH establishments. Some hotels just meet the basic standards are providing the prayer mat, the qibla direction, and halal food, but there are also hotels that have been providing full services, such as the separation of men and women in the gym facilities, the spa, and pool.
Other issues tied to the development of the SCH business model are the boycott against the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air which are owned by Dorchester Collection i.e. the Brunei Investment Agency. The boycott developed following sharia punishments that are being phased in under Islamic law including stoning and death sentences for adultery and sodomy. See – http://www.cnbc.com/id/101697115# for details.
Although there are still many obstacles, we should welcome and support sharia-based businesses. Hopefully in the future there will be increasing numbers of entrepreneurs, especially Muslims, who are interested in developing such businesses.
For finding Sharia hotels visit:
Halal tours: www.crescentrating.com