Dubai firm seeks partners for $2 bln Islamic hotels

DUBAI, March 3 (Reuters) - Dubai-based Almulla Hospitality said on Monday it is seeking partners for a $2 billion plan to develop a hotel chain that complies with Islamic law, including a ban on alcohol.

The company plans to develop as many as 90 hotels in the Gulf, Egypt, Thailand and Europe, it said in a statement.

“The market for Islamic hotels is currently fragmented due to lack of professional management and we recognise the growing need for a professionally-operated international hotel chain which operates on Islamic principles,” the firm’s chairman Abdulla Mohamed Almulla said in the statement.

The hotels will also only serve food that Muslims are allowed to eat. Islam bans pork.

Mulla estimates the value of investment in hotels across the Middle East over the next 12 years will be about $1 trillion and is aiming to capture about 5 to 10 percent of the market.

Demand for Islamic financial products has surged as more of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims seek investments that comply with their beliefs.

"The company plans to grow its portfolio through management contracts, joint venture investments and acquisitions," it said. (For Reuters content in Islamic finance, click on ISLAMIC) (Writing by John Irish; Editing by David Cowell)