Jassem Al Darmaki, Acting Director General of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority(centre) with other officials at the World Halal Travel Summit at Adnec on Monday. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Halalbooking.com, an online booking platform in the halal tourism sector, said it was targeting growth, with plans to launch a $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) initial public offering (IPO) in three years, according to Elnur Seyidli, chairman of the company’s board.

The UK-based company is still looking at global stock markets for the IPO but said it will either be in the UK or the US.

“We’re not looking at specific stock exchanges at the moment. We’re very focused on the growth, and we’re already very profitable and fast growing,” Seyidli said.

Halalbooking has been growing to three times its initial size per year (300 per cent).

In an interview with Gulf News, the chairman said that the company was looking to grow its consumer base to half a million to a million per year. This will be achieved through adding more hotels to the website.

“At the moment, we have about 200 hotels on our website from across the world, but by next year, we hope to reach 2,000 hotels. Once you connect to certain technologies, it becomes easier to add each hotel. In two years, we hope to reach about 10,000 hotels,” Seyidli said.

Muslims living in European countries currently account for 70-75 per cent of the company’s consumers, with the remaining 25 per cent coming from Muslim-majority countries.

However, Halalbooking is looking to change these figures.

“The reason we have 75 per cent of our customers from European countries is simply because we started our operations and we were focused on the UK. Then we expanded to Germany, France, and other countries. It was only a year ago that we launched an Arabic website, and built a GCC marketing team.

This year, we established an Asia-Pacific marketing team, so these portions will change every month from now on,” Seyidli said.

He added that he expected growth in the next few years to come from Muslim countries. Halalbooking is also looking to capitalise on the GCC as a source market.

Discussing the sector, he said he expected more supply to come online in the next few years, with more halal hospitality brands projected to grow globally.

Seyidli was speaking at the World Halal Travel Summit, which kicked off on Monday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec). Taking place until October 21, the event is set to welcome over 6,000 attendees throughout its three-day run.

Delivering the keynote speech at the event was Jasem Al Darmaki, acting director general of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, who said that the emirate is poised to become a regional hub for halal tourism.

“Halal travel is one of the fastest-growing sectors of global tourism, and one that’s already worth $135 billion and is set to double within the next five years.

Abu Dhabi is placing itself at the heart of this market in the Gulf region, and is well-placed to meet specific Muslim demands on a number of fronts. [These include] food and beverage, segmented family and gender-specific product and segmented sessions for females at mainline attractions, and is host to a number of high and medium-quality dry hotels,” Al Darmaki said.