A group of private investors, all of whom are British-Bangladeshis originating in the Sylhet region of Bangladesh have announced a new airline, Air Sylhet, to cater to British Muslims. It will begin with flights from London and Manchester to Dubai, via Vienna, on December 4. Subsequently, it will fly to other destinations in high demand by Muslims in Britain and near Vienna, in particular to Mecca. Given the failure in the past year of 28 airlines, the company's marketing and communications director, Kabir Khan, acknowledges that "Many people think we are crazy. But we feel that the market we are serving is immune to these kinds of conditions."
This news comes a year after Abdulla Mohamed Almulla, chairman of Dubai-based Almulla Hospitality announced a new Shar‘i compliant hotel chain to operate under three brand names, Cliftonwood, Adham and Wings. The goal was to open 30 properties by now, hotels that would not serve alcohol but would offer halal meals.
On a lesser scale, some Shar‘i-compliant hotels do already exist, such as the Brighton Marina House Muslim Hotel in the U.K., the Azad Muslim Hotel in Pakistan, and the Shenzhen Muslim Hotel in China, but this chain would be of a different order entirely, with an expected capitalization of US$2 billion.
Comments: (1) This fits the general "separation of civilizations" pattern that I have been monitoring since the Danish cartoon incident. (2) Given the Islamist danger, one might expect at least some non-Muslims to cheer the emergence of these segregated facilities. (3) We shall see; I am skeptical about the commercial viability of Muslim-oriented airlines, hotel chains, and the like. (October 31, 2008)