Dubai took a significant step towards legally implemented timeshare regulations last month.
Authorities at the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and Dubailand approved a set of regulations put together by Interval International and Group RCI in conjunction with various Dubai governmental bodies.
Interval International senior vice president governmental affairs Tom Bell has been working on the regulations for Dubai since 2003, and said he was delighted by the announcement.
"I'm very pleased that RERA has approved the regulations...we have been anxious for this to happen, because we know it will realise a wave of good business for Dubai," he said.
Dubailand, which along with RERA and the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) was involved in formulating the rules and regulations, was similarly pleased with the progress.
Dubailand chief executive Mohammed Al Habbai said: "Vacation ownership is one of the most evolving segments in the hospitality and leisure industry. As a trend, publicly-traded hospitality companies are now actively developing a full range of offerings at different price points in resort and urban destinations, in contrast to what was once a sector dominated by private developers alone".
Citing results from the US, the world's leading timeshare market, Interval International's Bell added that good timeshare regulations would lead to improvements in several areas, including: consumer and business spending; jobs; and salaries. Bell also said he believed hotel groups would form a significant component of the emirate's timeshare industry.
"[Timeshare] is a different proposition to hotels, but hotels have figured out that it's a good complimentary product which has proved itself profitable," he explained.
The key elements of the new timeshare regulation will be:
• Developers will have to get licenses; they will need to register with an agency, providing a copy of the contract and a copy of the disclaimer;
• Provisions will be put in place for regulating operators;
• Protective measures will be in place regarding the completion dates of buildings and regarding the long-term availability of what the purchaser has bought;
• Provisions will be in place for advertising and marketing standards;
• Purchasers will be given a 10 day cooling-off period, with deposits in escrow;
• The minimum number of units required to qualify for timeshare status will be 10;
• All timeshare properties will be required to be of a four- or five-star standard.
"This set of regulations is not everything exactly the way we wanted," Bell admitted. But he added: "It's a solid piece of regulation. It will serve Dubai very well; we are very happy with the final product."
Marriott Vacation Club International vice president senior counsel Alex Ghazi noted that in the past there had been well-documented problems with European timeshare legislation, which he suggested could be caused by "a lack of enforcement".
Interval International's Bell said he did not envisage any similar problems with enforcing the legislation in Dubai. "I have a good deal of confidence in the Dubai government," Bell explained.
However he went on to say that adjustments may well need to be made once the regulations came in.
"This is the first step in Dubai; in my experience it takes a while to work out the kinks. This has been reviewed by a lot of people; we think it will work well, but it won't be perfect - things will need to be tweaked," he said.
Regarding the legislation becoming an actual law, Bell said he was unsure of how long the process would take.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.
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