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Elite London hotel unveils Arabic-speaking butler service

The Langham, which first opened for business in 1865, is considered one of London’s oldest grand hotels

Rua’a Alameri

Published: Updated:

The rhetoric of public figures such as US presidential hopeful Donald Trump and Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage is seen by some to fuel xenophobia and racism while reports of Arabs as targets of hate crime in Western countries have come to the fore in recent months. All this has caused an air of unease for some tourists from the Middle East to cross over to the West.

Yet despite the reported cases of bigotry toward Middle Easterners, Western countries hope to invite wealthy Arabs to visit their homeland and indulge.

Data from Global Blue - which operates one of the world’s biggest tax-free shopping networks – shows that visitors from the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar are among the top-five biggest tax-free spenders in the London.

With the Eid festivities in mind and London being a key source market for Middle East tourism, one of Britain’s grandest hotels – The Langham – has decided to offer Arab guests an Arabic speaking butler service during their stay.

Arabic, an ‘essential language’

Tourism has been known to boom during the summer months, The Langham’s Managing Director Bob van den Oord told Al Arabiya English as his five-star hotel extended the Langham Club butler service to offer an “Arabic speaking butler service.

“It is essential for Arabic to be one of the languages spoken by our guest-facing colleagues,” Oord said, explaining that several of The Langham’s employees are native speakers of the language.

In the heart of the British capital, the Arabic speaking butler service offers luxury hospitality that includes everything from unpacking suitcases and color-coding clothes in wardrobes, to personalizing pillows and room temperature for guests.

“We act as the guest’s personal concierge, available at any time throughout the stay,” Oord said.

The Butler service is available to guests who book certain room categories, specifically suites, that start at £1,500 ($1990) a night.

The Langham, which first opened for business in 1865, is considered one of London’s oldest grand hotels and has since expanded beyond Britain with hotels and resorts in some of the world’s biggest capitals.

Oasis for Arabs

With visitors from the Middle East flocking to the British capital, London has been labeled a charming oasis for Arabs.

Recent summers have seen the streets of London throb with the plush roars of Rolls-Royce and Lamborghinis, while tourists beat the heat and indulge in shopping.

With the high flow of Arab tourists coming to “the old smoke,” Middle Eastern culture has influenced London’s social scene with a boom in Shisha cafés.

The art of shisha has been seeping into London’s social life, spreading across the city and leading to the opening of plenty of cafes, now frequented by shisha-lovers of many nationalities and ethnic backgrounds.

Figures collected by the British Heart Foundation detail a 210 percent increase in the number of shisha bars in the UK over five years. In 2007, there were estimated to be 179 bars, compared with 556 in 2012.