Wednesday, February 1, 2006
Tiny Bahrain must put in place legislation to regulate timeshare sales, because the scams have already begun.
East of Saudi Arabia, in the Persian Gulf, lies the archipelago of Bahrain. This semi-arid country, with 161 kilometers (100+ miles) of coastline, draws 60% of its national income from petroleum and petroleum related products, but like so many countries in the Middle East, Bahrain is seeking to increase tourism as it looks toward a time of reduced dependence on the oil market.
In 2004, Bahrain signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, the first agreement of this type between the US and a Persian Gulf state. And as we in the timeshare industry have seen, when the door is opened for commercial relations between the US and any country, development of timeshares can’t be very far behind.
While there are presently no timeshare properties in Bahrain, timeshare hustlers have already made their presence know. According to a January 28, 2006, article in the Gulf Daily News, a leading periodical published in Manama, Bahrain, “A new law regulating the sale of timeshare properties in Bahrain has been proposed…The move follows some alleged incidents by Bahrainis who purchased properties that did not exist…The MPs (Members of Parliament) want clear rules which would prevent such incidents from occurring in the future and which would clearly regulate all contracts.”
Good for them. The Bahrainis have put out the welcome mat for timeshare developers in their country, but are making the smart move of putting laws in place to regulate it even before the first developer has broken ground.
Keep your eye on Bahrain. The United Nations World Tourism Organization reports that tourism in Bahrain increased by 11% to 4.8 million visitors in the first nine months of 2005, with most of the visitors coming from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, the United Kingdom, the US, and Ireland.