Monday, May 01, 2006


Huge Potential For Timeshare Ownership Products In Middle East

Potential demand for timeshare ownership products in the Middle East is enough to support $1.2 billion of annual sales, according to a report commissioned by RCI Middle East. It is part of the world's largest holiday exchange and rental travel group, RCI Global Vacation Network. The research was presented at a symposium, "New horizons in shared ownership," held at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai yesterday.

Demand from the Middle Eastern market alone is enough to support $540 million in annual timeshare sales, and the potential for fractional sales on an annual basis is estimated to be much higher at $642 million. However, demand for fractional interest ownership is harder to quantify because the market is relatively young, says the report. Fractional ownership, which typically involves a share of a larger number of weeks rather than just one or two, were a major preference, especially amongst Kuwaitis and Egyptians. Fractional interest ownership is usually located in an upscale resort destination where whole ownership prices are extremely high and such properties are scarce.

The research shows that the concept of timeshare real estate is ideally suited to the higher income Middle Eastern national and, that many Saudi Arabian and UAE nationals are more inclined to consider buying a timeshare property over and above other options.

The study demonstrated that the entire sample — nearly 1,000 high earning nationals from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Egypt and the UAE — travels regularly and that holiday choices are largely based upon destinations that offer good family solutions and shopping rather than activity and adventure tourism. Food and fine dining is definitely high on the agenda for all respondents in the survey.

The research focused on four leisure travel options — family holidays, religious travel, big trips and festive travels — and family holidays was the clear leader. Since many families travel in larger groups, with extended family, friends and household staff, the larger, luxurious type of accommodation found within shared ownership developments, is well suited to their requirements, stated the report. Notably, 40 per cent of Saudi nationals take household staff away with them, and 46 per cent of UAE nationals take their parents.

Dubai and the UAE as a whole are the most popular destinations for all nationalities, especially when considering a timeshare purchase. With regard to fractional ownership, the most attractive locations were Dubai, Sharm El Shaikh and Makkah. There is also a gap in the market for religious timeshare. Although not a top tier location for timeshare, Makkah shows consistent strength among other nationalities and has considerable potential as a religious timeshare destination. The research also shows that Egyptians show a preference for staying local, in the Alexandria area as well as Sharm El Shaikh. Dubai, Makkah and Sharm El Shaikh are also the top three locations of interest for timeshare real estate.

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