The concept of Islamic Shariah


This paper begins by explaining the concept of Islamic Shariah. It explains the sources of Shariah as well as its higher objectives. The paper focuses on the implications of observance of Shariah in the tourism and hospitality industries. Following this is a description of the recent phenomena of `Halal tourism' and `Islamic Hospitality' illustrated through selected examples from Muslim countries in Asia and the Middle East. The development of `Islamically-oriented' standards is also discussed giving rise to new concepts such as `Shariah-compliant' which refers to Islamic consideration of being alcohol-free, gambling-free and the availability of `Halal' food. Lastly, the paper discusses future trends and challenges related to Halal tourism.

Key Words: Islamization, Shariah, Halal Tourism, Hotel, Marketing


The relationship between tourism and religion has been exhaustively addressed in tourism research literature; see for example (Adi & Ron, 2008; Chattopadhyay, 2006; Digance, 2003; Erik, 2003; Fleischer, 2000; Joseph & Kavoori, 2001; Poria et al., 2003; Richard & Priya, 2005). But there remains a lack of theoretical publications in the area of tourism in the context of Islam. Each religion has an impact on its believers or followers. In Islam it is Islamic law (Shariah) which addresses all trade and industry related issues including domestic and global tourism. True Islamic teachings emerge from two main streams; Al-Quran (Islam's holy book) and the documented deeds and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Sunnah). Tourism in Arabic, which is the original language of Al-Quran, has many connotations but in modern usage it is limited to a few meanings. It indicates travelling the earth recreationally or for research purposes and not for the sake of earning money, working or settling down anew(Majma, 2004, p. 467). Islamic teachings regulates this type of tourism to conform with the higher objectives of the Shariah that uphold five necessities; the protection of religion, life, mind, lineage and property. Some Muslim scholars are of the view that all five necessities, by which all heavenly religions are in agreement, are necessary ingredients without which communities cannot live and prosper(Badhdah, 2005).Therefore, understanding and observing Islamic teachings in the tourism and hospitality markets may be considered a competitive advantage as the needs of Muslim customers traveling overseas may be a source of anxiety for themselves and others(Syed, 2001).

Undoubtedly the global economy, including world tourism, has been negatively affected by poor relations between Muslim and Western nations especially after the September 11 attacks in the United States(Henderson, 2003). These harmful effects were exacerbated even further with the U.S. war on terrorism. The effect of this in the Middle East has emerged in the form of preventing Arab and Muslim tourists from travelling to Europe and North America on the grounds that these attacks were of Muslim and Arab origin. Images of Arab Muslims have become the archetypal image of Islam among the American people which has led to Muslims of Arab origins being unwelcome in America. The traditional Arab and Muslim choice of USA and Europe destination has changed since the September 11th attacks with Middle Eastern and Muslim countries becoming increasingly popular destinations for Muslim tourists. As a result, intra-tourism in the Middle East and Muslim countries has boomed remarkably. There is no doubt that Muslim tourists constitute a broad tourist market with special religious and cultural requirements which, as a target market, can no longer be ignored by decision makers in the international tourism market as well as the intra-Islamic tourism market.

In recent years, it has been observed that there is a growing interest in new tourism concepts such as "Islamic tourism." Another concept is "Halal hospitality" which is akin to the concept of "Halal food", a concept already recognized in many countries including the Middle East(WTM, 2007b). Newspaper articles consider this to be a new phenomenon in the United Arab Emirates and Middle Eastern countries. Halal tourism has attracted many tour packages entirely based on what they have termed 'Islamic culture' (Javed, 2007) which is defined as a type of religious tourism that conforms with Islamic teachings regarding behaviourisms, dress, conduct and diet (WTM, 2007a). Heyer's (2008) elaboration on the rapid large-scale development of 'Shariah-compliant hotels' is but another expression of the existing trends towards increased Islamization of activities which in the past focused more on banking, insurance and finance.

The objectives of this paper are: (1) to provide Shariah knowledge of tourism in order to explain Islamization trends in tourism, (2) to discuss the phenomenon of Halal tourism using examples of Muslim countries and (3) to present future trends and challenges related to Halal tourism. The paper is organized as follows; first, is a description of the Shariah and its relationship with tourism. Next, is a discussion of Shariah practices in Muslim countries. Finally, future trends and challenges in Halal tourism are discussed.


Increasing Muslim concern for products and services that compliment their faith has led Muslim scholars to review contemporary knowledge and disciplines. This critically analytical trajectory is termed 'Islamization'. Based on the belief that Islam is a comprehensive way of life with solutions for all predicaments the term Islamization consists of a wide variety of approaches that seek to implement Islamic values into any given scenario seen as problematic by a religious perspective. Islamization has led to increasing awareness amongst Muslims resulting in the need for Islamic options for their needs as opposed to the majority of options currently available. The crux of the problem rests however in the question of how to formulate and deliver practical Islamic solutions to these problems(Muhammad, 1989, p. 24).

The term 'Shariah' is literally understood as meaning the fountainhead from which water springs. 'Shariah' refers to the set of divine rules and regulations ordering human life and his interaction with all creatures in this world. With a mixture of broadly defined purposes and objectives and detailed injunctions Shariah determines mans place in this world. In Islam man exists with a particular purpose and is given a special responsibility to build and inhabit this world in truth and righteousness according to the rules set by his Creator. From an Islamic point of view man is not free to do as he pleases. Through Shariah man engages this world with the higher consciousness of the hereafter. Heavenly values are injected into worldly affairs. In this there is a symbolic relationship between the rules and regulations that is Shariah and its literal meaning as a source of water since water is the source of life(Edge, 1996, p. xv). Accordingly Shariah is thus a comprehensive guide and is viewed by Muslims as synonymous to Din. The various places in which Shariah is mentioned in Al-Quran (5: 48; 7: 163; 42: 13 and 21; 45: 18) testify to its dynamic and comprehensive nature. It can be easily claimed that the practical manifestation of Islam is not other than Shariah(Murad, 1981, p. 86).

The holistic meaning of Shariah embracing both the practical and spiritual dimensions of life means that a large spectrum of issues is addressed. From mundane rituals of everyday life both private and public, individual and social, attitudes and behaviorisms; nothing is left unaddressed by Shariah's comprehensive nature. By virtue of its comprehensive address of all spheres of life Shariah is well equipped to guide man in all that he does. Islam teaches that success is found in conforming to the rules and regulations, or perhaps more aptly put as 'guidance' directing man to the best conduct and behaviour to approach any given situation. Shariah is a complete solution. It cannot be fragmented and we cannot pick and choose as we wish. This may be considered to be at the very heart of the Islamic message as dutiful Muslims willfully conform to Shariah norms increasingly finding it the source of internal happiness and worldly success. For a serious and dedicated Muslim there is no alternative.

In the eight century hijrah Imam Abu Ishaq al-Shatibi expounded the higher objectives ordering Shariah. Imam al-Shatibi numbered them as five, in order of importance they are the protection of; religion, self, mind, wealth and property, and lastly lineage or the ability to procreate. The entire Shariah Imam al-Shatibi correctly observes serves one of these five objectives and all objectives serve the highest objective of the preservation of religion. From here extends the plethora of legal rulings which collectively can be traced to serving one or the other of these five higher objectives. All actions of any nature directly or indirectly threatening the preservation of the higher objectives is prohibited in Islam, similarly, actions promoting them are encouraged in Islam. In broad strokes this is the spectrum of obligation in Islam.

Ethics shares a symbiotic relationship to Shariah in that Shariah supports and condones ethical practices through legislation, in other words Shariah is itself ethical. The advancement to ethics through Shariah is that Shariah is proactively promoting ethical practices through its range of commandments and prohibitions. Shariah requires in order to be meaningful that whosoever observes and practices its injunctions is sincere and does so in good faith and spirit.


There are two main sources of the Shariah; Al-Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In addition to Al-Quran and the Sunnah, there are secondary sources of the Shariah such as Ijma (consensus), Qiyas (analogical deduction), Ijtihad (personal reasoning), and Maslaha (public interest).

Islamic Shariah is not the product of collective or individual genius. It is not the result of moments of brilliance or years of perfected legislation though years of trial and practice. Shariah is far from human limitation and imperfection. In Islam it is the divine practical guide to a virtuous life. Shariah is in principal the expression of the teachings of Al-Quran. Al-Quran is the beating heart of Islam. It is Allah's words to mankind revealed to His last Prophet Muhammad PBUH through the arch angel Gabriel. Al-Quran is Islam. It is the primary source of Shariah its fountainhead and the indisputable source of divine authority for all Muslims(Edge, 1996, p. XVII). For this reason the answers to all questions posed to Muslims regarding any issue whatsoever must first be referred to and sought for in Al-Quran.

Following Al-Quran is the second and complimentary source of authority in Islam; al-Sunnah. Literally it is held to mean 'practice', 'tradition' and 'precedent'(Edge, 1996, p. XVII). Sunnah is second only to Al-Quran and its authority extends from Al-Quran itself in that the Messenger Muhammad PBUH was the Messenger of Allah to all mankind conveying only that which has been inspired to him by his Lord. The Holy Quran states; "To obey him is to obey God" (Al-Quran, 4: 80). Sunnah is technically defined as the verbal and physical teachings of the Prophet along with his attributes and the decisions he made. No action of the Messenger PBUH in what is related to conveying the Message of Islam is unaccepted by Muslims when its authenticity is proven beyond reasonable doubt. There exists a primary significance in the fact that Allah chose Muhammad PBUH a man to be His Messenger. The significance is that Muhammad PBUH was a human being who shares in the one and same human nature shared by all defined as human. This means that he PBUH shares the same biological and intellectual constitution as other members of the human race. He PBUH could not breath under water or fly in the air, he tired and slept, he hungered and ate, he came of age and married, he participated in the seemingly infinite activities humans are capable of. What all this means is that fundamentally the Sunnah of the Prophet PBUH is repeatable and imitable by all human beings. His Sunnah is an example we can emulate. It is then no surprise that the Sunnah is highly regarded by all Muslims. The Sunnah has been preserved through the tireless efforts of Muslim scholars throughout the ages who sparing no resource and energy have collected and ascertained hundreds and thousands of Hadith(Murad, 1981, p. 102)

Third in successive order of religious authority in Islam is 'Ijma' or mutual consensus. Ijma is where scholars gather and unanimously agree on a ruling for a specific issue. There are several types of Ijma which range in its authority and degree of binding. The Ijma of the Sahabah or the companions of the Prophet PBUH is the highest and most authoritative form. It is where a gathering of companions collectively agree on a ruling upon a certain issue. This form of Ijma cannot be annulled and replaced by another, later; Ijma. The reason for this is based on the status of the Companions as having graduated from the Prophetic school of religious instruction and having witnessed revelation and championed its cause, not to mention their keen religious perception, religious commitment and intimate knowledge of Shariah and the Arabic language. Ijma in itself not being a religious authority extends its authority from Al-Quran and must subsequently conform to the general teachings of Islam. Ijma cannot contradict established teachings of Al-Quran and Sunnah. Rather it is a mechanism that allows for a continuous provision of ongoing legislation that meets an ever changing world(Murad, 1981, p. 55). The exercise of Ijma presupposes the ability for Muslims to engage Islamic sources of legislation in search of solutions for contemporary problems. Endeavours of Muslim scholars to formulate Islamic solutions is termed 'Ijtihad' and is perhaps the most significant level in the process of formulating rulings in Islam in contemporary times. Ijtihad denotes a method of inquiry into Islamic sources and consists of a variety of steps that use the tool of 'Qiyas' (analogical reasoning) in various ways. Other initiatives from the varied schools of Islamic Jurisprudence are 'Istihsan' (equity) 'al-Maslahah al-Mursalah' (public good) 'Sad al-Thariah' (preventing harm) among others (Edge, 1996, p. 200). Having said this, it can never be over emphasized that all attempts to engage the sources of Shariah must conform to the overall framework of Islamic teaching.


In Islam Shariah teachings have direct implications for the tourism and hospitality industry. The Shariah forbids Muslims to visit places of corruption where alcohol is consumed, immoral acts take place and sins are committed such as certain beaches, parties and immoral places, or travelling to hold celebrations on innovated festivals. The Muslim is enjoined to refrain from committing sin or sit with those who are committing sin. The Holy Quran states: "Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils)." (Al-Quran, 17: 32).Therefore entertainment such as nightclubs and adult TV channels which are popular bridges to sin are strictly prohibited in tourist places or hotels. The scholars of the Standing Committee said:It is not permissible to go to places of corruption for the sake of tourism because of the danger that this poses to one's religious commitment and morals. Islam came to obstruct all means leading to evil(Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, 2009). If tourism involves facilitating and promoting sin and evil then it is not permissible for the Muslim who believes in Allah and the Last Day to help others to disobey Allah and disobey His commands(Rasma, 2008).

Quranic evidence has been presented regarding the use of alcohol. The Holy Quran states: "They ask The concerning Wine and Gambling, Say: In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit..." (Al-Quran, 2: 219) Here the Arabic word used is Khamr (alcohol) which can be applied to all forms of intoxicants be it in the form of liquor or drugs. The principle affect of intoxication is the primary consideration in this prohibition. Al-Quran further states: "O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan's handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper. Satan's plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain?" ( Al-Quran,5 :90,91). Tourism and hotels have to be regulated by the Shariah in terms of forbidding alcohol. Moreover, it is forbidden to sell alcohol as part of business in the tourism and hospitality industry and merely visiting such places is forbidden in Islam.

In Arabic speaking nations the word Halal is used to refer to anything which is permitted by the Shariah as the word in Arabic means "lawful" or "permitted." The word Haram on the other hand is used to refer to the opposite meaning of Halal. Most nations have food labelling laws to protect both Halal and kosher certification in order to ensure that food labels are accurate. The important distinguishing feature of Halal meat is that the animal must be slaughtered in the name of Allah. Any Muslim can slaughter an animal for food as long as he or she slaughters the animal by quickly severing the major arteries of the neck and utters the name of God as the animal is killed. However not all animals are fit for Muslim consumption since pork is strictly forbidden in Islam. The Holy Quran states: "He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of Allah. But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, then is he guiltless. For Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful." (Al-Quran, 2: 173).The verse instructs us on the types of foods prohibited to Muslims, however Islam makes exceptions for dire circumstances in which the continuity of life depends on consuming these prohibited foods. Islam's balanced approach to legislation makes room for exceptions through its principle: "In cases of necessity, Haram things are permitted".Accordingly, the tourism and hospitality industry is expected to make efforts to meet Shariah rules regarding Halal food expectations.

Free mixing of the sexes along with inappropriate and revealing dress is strictly prohibited by the Shariah. These acts are prohibited because they are among the causes of Fitnah (temptation or trial which implies evil consequences), the arousal of desires, committing indecent acts and false practices. Among the many proofs of the prohibition of the meeting and mixing of men and women in the Holy Quran and Sunnah are: "...And when ye ask (his ladies) for anything ye want, ask them from before a screen: that makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs..." (Al-Quran, 33:53).In explaining this verse, Ibn Kathir says: "Meaning, as I forbade you to enter their rooms, I forbid you to look at them at all. If one wants to take something from a woman, one should do so without looking at her. If one wants to ask a woman for something, the same has to be done from behind a screen." There is evidence that the Prophet Muhammad PBUH practiced segregation between male and female where he PBUH implemented segregation in the Masjid during congregational prayers. He achieved this by introducing a part of the Masjid specifically for women to pray with their own entrance so that they will not mix with the males in the rows of prayer. In this instance segregation was practiced in order to preserve focuse concentration during prayer. Evidence of this is found in the Prophet's Hadith according to which: "The best of the men's rows is the first and the worst is the last, and the best of the women's rows is the last and the worst in the first."(Jibreen, 1996, p. 121). As such the tourism and hospitality industry has should meet these requirements by assigning separate male and female rooms in restaurants, gym, and swimming pool.

Prayer is the greatest virtue in Islam and is considered one of the five pillars. The Holy Quran states: "And be steadfast in prayer; practise regular charity; and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship" (Al-Quran,2: 43).Muslims are ordered to pray five times daily (Early morning, Noon, Mid-afternoon, Sunset, and Evening) in the masjid (a Muslim house of worship). One of the five pillars of Islam and perhaps the most witnessed manifestation of Shariah is the Muslim five time daily prayer. Prayer keeps a Muslim regularly thinking of his Lord communicating to Him his fears and aspiration, thankful for the blessings He has graced them with. The five time daily prayers are organized in specific timeframes. A Muslim is not permitted to delay his/her prayer outside of the designated time frame without due cause. This reason alone makes it necessary for the tourism and hospitality industry to provide sufficient facilities for Muslims to perform their religious obligation. Tourist sites along with hotels should make the necessary arrangements to accommodate Muslim tourists. According to Al-Quran and Islamic tradition Muslims around the world must face Makkah (where the sacred masjid is located) during their daily prayers according to the verse "We see the turning of thy face (for guidance to the heavens: now shall we turn thee to a Qibla that shall please thee. Turn then Thy face in the direction of the sacred Masjid: Wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction. The people of the Book know well that that is the truth from their Lord. Nor is Allah unmindful of what they do" (Al-Quran,2: 144).Masjids as the main place of worship for all Muslims have to face the Qibla (the direction of the Ka'bah in Makkah) as such the hotel rooms should include markers indicating the direction of Makkah for Muslims who want to pray in their rooms.

In Islam, it is clearly not allowed for women to travel alone without the presence of a Mahram (a male family member) according to the Hadith of Ibn Abbas Hadith "The Prophet (PUH) said: No woman should travel except with a Mahram, and no man should enter upon her unless a Mahram of hers is present." Based on this principle teaching women issues in Islam are of a unique character in that Islam views women according to her natural disposition which is similar yet different to that of the men. An entire body of women related judicial issues takes up a big chapter in books of fiqh. One of the manifestations of this principle is that Muslim women are not recommended to travel alone if not pressingly necessary due to the fact that a family relative capable of insulating her from bad company and corruptive elements is not present. In many Muslim countries hotels will not allow women to check into hotels due to this concern. This is an act of respect towards women which views women as precious pearls who must be protected from evil(M. S. Al-Munajjid, 2008).In addition, the Shariah imposes a dress code upon women believers as seen in this verse: "And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss" (Al-Quran, 24: 31). Muslim women are required to dress in Hijab which covers all of their bodies except their hands and face to prevent society from falling into discord. Muslim women are protected by Islamic teachings in order to safeguard their chastity and to emphasize their value and lofty stature. Therefore, the consideration of the rules on women travelling in tourism programmes and airline programmes is very important to cater for Muslim tourists and the tourism industry should thus oblige Muslim women staff to wear Shariah compliant to attract the Muslim families.


Although the tourism and hospitality industry in Muslim countries aims to attract many non Muslim tourists, currently the increasing numbers of Arab and Muslim travellers and their high purchasing power have motivated the industry to implement Shariah teachings to directly meet the needs of Muslim tourists. In other words, Muslim travellers have become an important target market especially in the Gulf region. As a consequence, Islamic tourism has emerged as a new concept based on Shariah and ethical codes. Shakiry (2007) says; "Islamic Tourism has been putting the spotlight on new dimensions of tourism in addition to the traditional one by adopting the moral principles of tourism". Accordingly, many tourist organizations have begun to implement Shariah and invest in Islamic tourism considering it as a competitive advantage. Halal tourism appears to focus more on the Middle Eastern demographic in particular the Gulf families with its conservative customs and traditions and desire for Islamic Shariah teachings.

Since the September 11th attacks the United Arab Emirates is increasingly attracting Muslim Middle Eastern tourists. In recent years it has become a popular attraction for regional short term travel. It is not uncommon to find weekend vacationers enjoying the wide plethora of activities and services offered. They find the common culture a source of security and the short travel distance attractive(Al-hamarneh & steiner, 2004). Dubai investment agencies have invested in Halal tourism through the introduction of Islamic hotels, which is becoming increasingly popular, in the aim to profit from regional investments in the tourism sector. They serve only Halal foods are alcohol free and provide women only floors. Almulla Hospitality a Dubai-based hospitality group launched the world's first Shariah-compliant hotel portfolio in October 2007. It comprises of three brand tiers -Cliftonwood, Adham and Wings- and operates under universal Shariah rules which are illustrated in Table 1. Moreover, the Shariah board was formed along the lines of Shariah committees of the Islamic financial institutions to control facilities, work and performance within the Shariah compliant hotels. Almulla, Chairman of Almulla Hospitality, is also planning to set up 150 Shariah compliant hotels around the world by 2013 at the forecasted cost of $2 billion, firstly targetting Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt and Malaysia, followed by Thailand and Europe(Greaves, 2008). There are other companies in the UAE which have Shariah-compliant hotels such as the Rezidor Hotel Group, Shaza Hotels from Kempinski Hotel, Tamani Hotels & Suites from the KM Group as well as Rotana Hotels which recently launched Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts(Heyer, 2008).

Malaysia is considered to be the premier country that has succeeded in marketing itself strongly in recent years as the ideal destination for Gulf families who are looking for enjoyable ecological and urban tourism without undermining Islamic customs and traditions. Malaysian international hotels provide Halal food slaughtered according to the Shariah and pork-free fat. In addition, they provide Muslim employees who speak Arabic to help those who are not proficient in other languages. It has become familiar to find Arab television stations providing Arabic news and some religious programmes within a whole range of television channels offered by hotels. Markers are placed inside hotel rooms to indicate the direction of Makkah with prayer rugs and prayer times provided(Abdul Sahib Shakiry, 2008).

Saudi Arabia is the Muslim country that implements the strictest Shariah rules. Alcohol, nightclubs and free intermingling of men and women are strictly prohibited. Women are forbidden from checking into hotels or travelling without the presence of a male family member. The Rosewood Corniche Hotel in Jeddah considers a Halal-based business strategy to meet the needs of Muslim female traveller a good business choice and therefore offers a floor exclusively for women(Abdullah, 2007).Similarly, in 2007 under a ministerial decision in Bahrain alcohol was limited to five-star hotels and forbidden in all restaurants near masjids, schools or residential areas. Moreover, about 85% of non-five-star hotels have been ordered to close nightclubs hosting foreign bands on their premises and to stop selling alcohol if they are in Shariah compliant designated areas(Alferian, 2007). In May 2008 in Egypt, Saudi sheikh Abdel Aziz Ibrahim owner of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, ordered his staff to empty every alcohol bottle on the premises into the Nile(Shenker 2008). Thus the Grand Hyatt Hotel which occupies one of the most expensive sites overlooking the River Nile became alcohol free and alcoholic drinks were replaced with juices. The Hyatt management said the owner did that because foreign tourists have to respect Muslim cultural norms and to conform with Islamic law. On a similar note passengers on Egypt Air flights will not find alcoholic drinks


Implemented Shariah practices related to the tourism sector are in its early stages, just as Islamic banks was before occupying a considerable market share in the international banking market. Halal tourism as a business opportunity is expected to become one of the most flexible types of tourism (Chitakasem, 2007). It is expected to attract Muslim and non-Muslim tourists but that will take time. According to World Travel Market Global Trend Reports, the forecasted number of inbound tourists to the Middle East will grow by 66%, totalling 55 million visitors by 2011; a large percentage of this will be intra-regional (WTM, 2007). It may be fair to say that ignorance of the needs of Middle Eastern travelers on the part of international tourist organizations will cause them to lose much profit. The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference held on May (2008) focused on Halal hospitality trends in its session dubbed 'Multi-faceted future of Islamic Hospitality'. In this session, Almulla said that the demand for Shariah-compliant hotels represents 10 % of the world tourism market. Hartley, CEO of Shaza Hotels, added that the market for Halal hotels will grow by 20 % each year.

We can highlight the expected trends in Halal tourism as follow:

  • Inbound tourist receipts to the Middle East are expected to grow by 108% to almost US$51 billion and domestic tourism by 82% to reach US$24 billion in 2011(WTM, 2007). Consequently, growth in the tourism sector will encourage tourist organizations to invest in Halal tourism.
  • It is expected that many Islamic hotel brands will appear specifically for the needs of Muslim tourists in the Middle East and this will extend to all Muslim countries.
  • Future growth in Islamic finance, it is expected, will support Shariah compliant investments in the tourism industry.
  • Halal tourism will develop its own Shariah compliant international standards such as being alcohol free, gambling free and offering Halal food and services.
  • It is expected that Halal tourism will attract non Muslim tourists who are looking for a cultural experience.
  • International hotels will follow the example of Shariah compliant hotels in the UAE to be able to compete in the Muslim tourist segment.
  • Airlines are planning to introduce a Halal flying experience particularly for Hajj and Umrah flights. Services such as Halal menus, in flight calls for prayer, provision of Al-Quran in addition to Halal in flight entertainment and segregated seating arrangements will compose the Halal package (WTM, 2007).
  • Tourism packages will target European Muslims including Hajj or Umrah, Halal airlines and visiting Islamic sites.
  • Rules and regulations will appear which have to be followed by non-Muslim tourists in order to be Shariah complant.

Although Halal tourism may reshape the Middle Eastern tourism sector in the coming years, there are some challenges which should be considered by organizations to ensure success in this sector. Firstly, current world standards will conflict with Shariah requirements. It is known that international hotels have to provide specific services to become five-star hotels and this may conflict with Islamic teachings such as serving alcoholic drinks. Secondly, secular governments in some counties will try to impose rules to restrict Halal tourism. They will justify this by saying that the tourism sector may lose a huge number of non-Muslim tourists because the implementation of Shariah will limit the services provided. Thirdly, some countries will try to impose some penalties on hotels which forbid alcohol such as in the case of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Egypt whereby the Egyptian tourism ministry threatened it by decreasing its class from five stars to three stars. Finally, there are those Muslim tourists who do not practise Islam as well as they should not observing Shariah teachings.


In response to the need to understand Halal tourism, this paper has described the Shariah (Islamic law), its sources and Shariah rules regarding tourism. It is important to understand Shariah rules and practices to explain the examples provided regarding the tourism sector in selected Muslim countries (UAE, Malaysia, Saudi, Bahrain, and Egypt). Future trends have been presented related to Halal tourism as a business opportunity forecasted to grow in the coming years. It is important for individuals and organizations involved in the tourism and hospitality industries to be more aware of the implications of greater observance of Shariah by Muslims.


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