“Given that Maldives is a 100 percent Muslim country the fact that no Islamic resort exists in the country is surprising,” said Hani Lashin, General Manager of Dubai’s Jauhara Group.
The first Islamic hotel was established in Dubai by Jauhara Group 32 years ago. Lootah Hotel Management manages the three hotels run under the brand in Dubai. The shareholders of Lootah Hotel Management were the first to set up an Islamic Bank in Dubai in 1975.
Hani arrived in the Maldives to take a look for himself at the island of Kalhaidhoo in Shaviyani atoll where the resort is going to be developed on.
“I have seen the island and it’s very beautiful. The island is thickly vegetated and I’m sure if an Islamic Resort is developed on the island it would be very successful,” he said.
The group expressed interest to develop an Islamic resort in the Maldives after talks held following an offer made by a Maldivian company, Kalhaidhu Investment Limited.
“We met them on the internet, and since then on we’ve held discussions and reached an agreement,” Hani told Haveeru.
Hani confirmed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed with Kalhaidhu Investment to develop and run a resort under the Jauhara brand for 20 years in the Maldives.
The resort, which would comprise of 50-75 luxury villas with private swimming pools as well as a private beach, restaurant, recreation centre, spa, marina and yachts, is estimated to cost between US$70-100 million and is expected to be complete by late 2013 or early 2014.
Hani said that the resort specifically targeted for Muslims would be unlike any other resorts in the Maldives, as it would offer privacy for both sexes in compliance with Islamic Shari’a.
“The resort won’t offer alcohol or pork, and is quite beneficial when considered health wise. Smoking will also be allowed in a specified area. Sports and other entertainment facilities will be available too but I don’t want to reveal the details yet,” he said.
He revealed that a swimming pool is planned to be built in every suite and separate swimming hours will be fixed for men and women at the beach, though families will be allowed to swim together and enjoy with their children.
“A lot of Muslim countries sell swimsuits designed for Muslims which completely covers the body but allow for smooth movement in the water,” he said.
Hani stressed that the group wanted to commence with work at a steady pace and so this year will only concentrate designing the resort and making necessary preparations before construction begins.
“The resort will be very different and special, and the resort will be designed by one of our companies and will take around two years to be developed and opened up. So the resort will be open for business by late 2013 or early 2014,” he revealed.
Hani highlighted the importance of establishing an Islamic resort in the Maldives and said the Tourism Ministry had also welcomed the idea of an Islamic resort in the Maldives.
“From the statistics we received it was evident that Arabs didn’t come to holiday in the Maldives. The number of Arab tourists in a year amount to just 1.1 percent of the total. The Arab market is huge and the Maldives should consider the potential value attainable from it,” he said.
Hani expressed confidence that the number of Muslim tourists will increase with the opening of the resort.
“Some people hesitate when it comes to something new. We are experienced in this field. Following the opening of the first Islamic Hotel in Dubai other hotels followed suit. While there are around 90 resorts in the Maldives, I feel that 10 Islamic resorts among them are necessary,” he added.
Source : Haveeru News