Timeshares Ready to Boom in Middle East

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Earlier this month, Hospitality Net reported on a Deloitte & Touche, research survey that shows the Middle East hotel market continuing to enjoy double-digit growth for the fourth straight year. Historically, where hotel growth booms, so does growth of timeshare and vacation ownership properties.

Looking at the hotel industry, individual Middle Eastern markets performing particularly well include Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates; Muscat, Oman; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Damascus, Syria.

The only hotel markets reporting declines were Doha, (in Qatar) which had an exceptional year in 2006 while hosting the Asian Games, resulting in a decline only by comparison to the 2007 figures, and Beirut. Understandably, civil unrest and political tensions between Israel and Hezbollah are blamed for driving Beirut hotel occupancy rates to the lowest in the region.

Rob O’Hanlon, (Tourism, Hospitality, and Leisure Partner, Deloitte Middle East) was quoted by Hospitality Net, explaining this exceptional business growth in this way, “The hotel industry continues to benefit from increased airline capacity, events and new attractions. Infrastructure developments and effective marketing campaigns are also all helping to raise the profile of (the Middle East) region worldwide.”

RCI Middle East Managing Director, Nick Turner, explains the situation further by saying, (as quoted in Khaleej Times online) that based on company research, “…the introduction of timeshare property, a form of shared vacation property ownership, to the market in early 2008 would spark the return of the red-hot Dubai property market’s early days.”

Dubai may lead the way in hotel development in the Middle East, but because of a few less-than-ethical business people in Dubai’s early timeshare history, Dubai government officials wisely put a halt on all Dubai timeshares until solid legislation could be put in place to protect the consumer. While Egypt timeshares, Lebanon timeshares, Israel timeshares and vacation ownership in other parts of the Middle East have been available for several years, timeshares are only now becoming a viable part of the Dubai real estate market.

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Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED) is considering the following as they set up timeshare regulations to encourage development from legitimate timeshare companies while safeguarding the rights of the individual:

  • • Establishing a cooling-off or rescission period for timeshare contracts, yet still permitting timeshare sellers to accept deposits.
  • • Establishing escrow accounts or bank guarantees on money paid to purchase pre-construction timeshares.
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  • • Creating standardization of timeshare contract language across the board.
  • • Prohibiting timeshare developers or timeshare sellers from conducting business in private homes, either their own or that of the prospective timeshare buyer.
  • • Mandatory licensing and bonding of timeshare resort operators and timeshare sales agencies.
  • • Full disclosure on all documents related to the sale and ownership of timeshare.

But perhaps the best news of all is that a number of leading timeshare developers, timeshare companies, and associated industries are not only embracing Dubai’s carefully laid plans but are actively serving as advisors to Dubai’s lawmakers and regulatory agencies.