We’ve all heard about Shariah compliant products, stocks, credit-cards, but what is a Shariah compliant hotel apartment? When I first heard about this on radio I was confused and thought I’d look through the internet to find out and here’s what I found.
First of all, the ad I’m talking about is that of Constella, a suite of luxury hotel apartments from DAMAC Properties, Dubai. The hotel claims to be the “first fully certified Shariah compliant serviced hotel”. What this means is that not only will the project comply with Islamic financial principles during the course of its construction, all of its funds would also be managed by an Islamic bank. But that’s not all, the hotel will provide segregated facilities for men and women. This means separate pools, restaurant sections, gyms, even entire floors dedicated exclusively to women, with a female serving staff. Alcohol and pork will not be on the menu either. Upon completion, the project will be granted a Shariah Certification by Dar Al Shariah, a consultancy that provides Shariah-based legal and financial services to its clients.
The whole idea is meant to capitalize on the beliefs of DAMAC’s Saudi and UAE based clients and they’re not stopping at just that. They’re advertising their product in Pakistan as well.
The idea of mixing religion with marketing is nothing new. We only need to look at our neighbour India to understand that. In India, the demand for Vaastu-compliant abodes is on the rise. Although Vaastu Shastra is an ancient science of architecture, it has its roots buried in Hindiusm. Many Hindus believe they’ll have a “happy home” if it has been constructed according to the tenets of Vaastu. At some level, Constella does the same thing. It is designed to appeal to Muslim consumers who have “stricter” requirements.
According to a report by PWC from last year, the value of Shariah compliant financial assets globally is expected to increase from $1.21 trillion to $2.67 trillion by 2017 and DAMAC is only responding to a rising demand in Islamic products.