By Andy Sambidge
Backers say Dubai-based Aria Vacation Club on Palm Jumeirah will fill gap in global timeshare holiday sector
Hotel and real estate developer IFA Hotels & Resorts (IFA HR) has joined forces with Kuwait-based Tijaria to launch their first vacation club business.
The $50m joint venture announcement, which was made on the opening day of the 2014 Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, will a gap in the global timeshare market, said Talal Al Bahar, chairman and Group CEO, IFA HR.
“Aria Vacation Club is the first Middle-Eastern backed vacation club with the capacity to dominate markets in MENA, South East Asia, Europe and North America," he said.
"We have done our research and have addressed previous barriers to this market. We have a number of world-class assets in our stable, a proven executive team in place, the capacity to leverage the region’s most comprehensive consumer finance solution and a well-respected JV partner in Tijaria.
"We are extremely happy that Tijaria has partnered with us on Aria and we hope that it will be the first of many exciting joint ventures between our two companies,” he added
He said that Dubai was the ideal base for a vacation club because it boasts year-round occupancy rates of 70 percent.
Abdul Fatah MR Marafie, chairman and managing director, Al Tijaria added: “Timeshare is a $14bn global business, of which the Middle East is the smallest contributor at roughly $36m... the room for growth is staggering. That makes it an extremely appealing concept to investors looking for new opportunities to expand their global reach."
Aria intends to have global-appeal while remaining sensitive to the nature of its home market. Sharia-compliant financing, for instance, will be easily available to qualified members.
Joe Sita, CEO of IFA Hotel Investments, the asset management arm of IFA HR, will lead the Aria project. He said: “Our initial focus is on growing the club into key locations such as London, Singapore and Makkah. Expansion into tourism hot-spots and growth areas that are highly attractive to both Middle Eastern and other regional travellers such as Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia are also a priority. The Aria goal is a balance of strategy and opportunity.”
The points-based Aria Vacation Club is expected to begin formal operation in 18 months’ time, when its flagship Dubai property – Kingdom of Sheba – opens on the crescent of the Palm Jumeirah.
“We are planning to use Kingdom of Sheba as the ‘home resort’ for the programme, but we are also in discussions with additional investors, developers and hospitality partners. If another project of the right calibre comes on board and everything lines up, we see no reason to wait for Aria’s consumer launch,” said Sita.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
This was first launched in 2007. I bought a unit which was supposed to be finished in 2009 and was then told the project was not going ahead in 2012 and offered an unsatisfactory alternative. The communication from IFA has been appalling with many calls unanswered, unfulfilled promises and general ru around. They are still holding my money and refuse to refund. I would strongly recommend NOT INVESTING in this project.