The Sultanate's first Sharia-compliant 'alcohol-free' five-star hotel, Muscat Grand Millennium Hotel, will open for guests next year. In order to cash in on the new concept of Sharia-compliant hotels, Shaza Muscat Company (SMC) yesterday signed an agreement with Millennium & Copthorne Hotels for the management and operation of Oman's first such five-star property."Alcohol will not be served in the hotel since it is a Sharia-compliant hotel. This is not downgrading the hotel by any means; rather it is upgrading it to a better lifestyle. It is going to be a family and business hotel," said Abdul Rahman Awadh Barham, a board member of the Shaza Muscat Company.Spread over approximately 56,162sq metres, Muscat Grand Millennium Hotel will have over 324 rooms and suites, which will reflect the blend of quintessentially Arabic and global design. The hotel will also house a 1,250 square metre ballroom with a capacity to accommodate 600 to 1,000 plus guests in addition to a large pre-function room, VIP rooms and Majlis. In addition, eight dedicated board rooms and meeting rooms for corporate events and two full sized swimming pools will make this property a unique addition to the hospitality sector in the Sultanate.The hotel, which will have a capital expenditure of OMR28 million, will be 16 kilometres from both, the Muscat International Airport and the Central Business District (CBD), and will serve the dynamically expanding tourism sector in the Sultanate. "We have two Sharia-compliant properties in Dubai, which are extremely successful. This is our third such hotel in the GCC region," said Ramsay Rankoussi, Manager – Development and Planning and Asset Management Middle East and Africa. Respect for culture
He said Sharia-compliant properties have a specific market,  mainly in the GCC region. Hotels in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are Sharia-compliant by law. "We are trying to develop a lasting relationship with companies that own properties. We want to respect the culture and Islamic heritage."The premium location of Muscat Grand Millennium, next to the youngest mall in Oman – Muscat Grand Mall which will be connected to the hotel through a sky bridge and will give customers an exclusive retail experience, exposes them to the best of local and international brands at their doorstep. "Muscat continues to grow as an attractive tourist destination in the region, and the way forward is to cater to this burgeoning market by offering a full lifestyle and retail experience that meets not only regional, but also global expectations. Today we are pleased to announce our agreement with one of the top names in hospitality in the region – Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, under whose management, we are confident the Muscat Grand Millennium Hotel will evolve into one of the most visited and highly acclaimed five-star hotel destinations in the Sultanate," said Khamis Mubarak Al Kiyumi, Chairman of Shaza Muscat Company."This partnership with Millennium & Copthorne Hotels will define a one-of-its-kind hospitality destination in the heart of Muscat. The sheer investment of OMR28 million in the project is testament to the quality standards that it will reflect. We are confident that the Muscat Grand Millennium Hotel will further enhance the reputation of Oman as a tourist destination for years to come, and add a unique offering within the Sultanate," noted Mohammed Abu-Baker Al Ghassani, Board Member of Shaza Muscat Company.