The transparency of Islamic hotels: “Nice Islam” and the “self-orientalizing” of Muslims?

Baker Ahmad Alserhan, Bronwyn P. Wood, Richard Rutter, Daphne Halkias, Hasan Terzi, Omar Al Serhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The Crescent Ranking (CR) is a service benefiting both the supply-side (“halal-friendly” hotels) and the demand-side (Muslims wanting to have a guest experience consistent with their way of living) within the tourism market. “Halal” is a technical term in the Arabic language usually translated as “permissible from the perspective of Islamic law (sharia'ah).” This study examines the transparency of the top and bottom 10 hotels listed on the CR site. First, we compared the hotel profile as per the CR listing with the hotel's own website. Next, we examined guest reviews on a word-of-mouth proxy site (, paying particular attention to the feedback of non-Muslim guests. Following this analysis, self-styled “Islamic” hotel managers were interviewed to triangulate the data. We found “Islamic” hotels to be intransparent to their guests seeking an Islamically compliant holiday and also to those seeking a conventional hotel experience. We suggest several reasons hotels misrepresent themselves—“self-orientalization”, a necessity to present “nice Islam”, an “ethics gap”, and/or a poor understanding of marketing and market positioning. We consider regulation of the “Islamic” hotel industry to be a mechanism policy makers, and managers could, adopt to become transparent and to protect demand-side (guests) rights. Regulation would also differentiate hotels operating an Islamic business model and those merely offering a few simple services appreciated by Muslim travellers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-487
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Tourism Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Islamic hotel
  • business models
  • guest reviews
  • hotel ranking
  • transparency
  • values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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