A recent report by Interval International, a world-renowned exchange company with over 2,500 resorts worldwide, stated that Dubai has the potential to become the new Orlando or Las Vegas of timeshare.
Analysing the figures in Dubai, the report found out that if 5 per cent of the emirate’s 100,000 hotel rooms and serviced apartments are converted to timeshare, with an estimated average sale price of $20,000 for each week’s vacation ownership, it could result in a whopping $5 billion in sales volume.
Dubai tops the list of timeshare destinations for Africans, driven by its world-class shopping malls and traditional attractions, according to the founder of Arabian Falcon Holidays (AFH), one of the largest independent timeshare player in the Middle East.
Africa represented 5 per cent of the total inbound tourism source market of Dubai in 2015 and the potential to develop this segment appears lucrative due to the government’s effort to encourage economic ties with the African continent. With over 200,000 Nigerians visiting Dubai in 2015, AFH is continuing to expand its reach in the country and other nations such as Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Senegal.
Mohannad Sharafuddin, founder of the Arabian Falcon Holidays, said: “Dubai is the top destination amongst our timeshare owners from Africa. Africans believe in spending quality time with their families and opt to buy timeshare, which promotes the idea of family holiday.”
According to Arabian Falcon Holidays, the timeshare market is expected to grow strongly, surpassing the average growth rates of 15 per cent to 20 per cent per year, with 2017 heralding a new era that will witness 50 per cent growth as new tourists visit theme parks and attractions such as Dubai Opera. Sharafuddin graduated from the University of Jordan in 1994, and joined a timeshare company. He moved to Dubai in September 1996 and in 1999, established his own venture – Arabian Falcon Holidays. We chat with him to get more insight into this budding trend and his travel preferences.
Is timeshare popular in the GCC?
Timeshare always promotes the idea of family holidays and hence we are seeing visitors coming with their families to the GCC, particularly Dubai, to spend their vacation. Sometimes, we see there are large families and they find it tough cost-wise, to stay in bigger rooms. Therefore, they always look for timeshare units, such as two-bedroom or three-bedroom furnished apartments. Timeshare offers them larger space and better privacy along with financial savings.
Is Dubai the most popular destination for timeshare?
Dubai is the most popular destination for timeshare market in the GCC. There are a few timeshare options available in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, but Dubai remains the most favourite city in the Gulf for timeshare industry.
Is vacation ownership encouraged in dubai?
Vacation ownership is getting all the support and help from Dubai Land Department’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), which we expect will soon issue a timeshare law. We expect the law will be fair to both consumers and timeshare companies, and will encourage and aid in growth of timeshare business in the emirate.
Can you share some examples of timeshare that you deal with at Arabian Falcon Holidays?
In Dubai, we have two major properties – the Royal Club at Palm Jumeirah and Royal Club at Bonnington Tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers. We also deal with a resort in Malaysia – Palace of the Golden Horses Palace, which is nearly 20 minutes outside Kuala Lumpur. Our portfolio also includes a project in Istanbul, Turkey, and Marrakesh, Morocco.
What is your favourite holiday destination ever?
I am a fan of urban destinations meaning big cities. My favourite holiday destinations are Paris, London, Munich and Kuala Lumpur.
Share with us your top five bucket-list travel experiences.
The list is never ending, but I am very much interested in visiting Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Cancún, Mexico; Oslo, Norway; Tokyo, Japan, and Shanghai China.
Tell us about a recent familiarisation trip that you went to recently?
We recently participated with the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) in several roadshows held in Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Nairobi in Kenya, Uganda and Ghana.
The familiarisation trips were very engaging. We could gauge the tremendous potential for timeshare industry due to the huge interest shown by travel agents. We shared our offerings thus making it more appealing for African nationals to come to Dubai which has always welcomed Africans with open arms.
Tell us all about your biggest sale last year (2016)? The value, the client, the destination, etc.
Last year (2016) was a tough year for every company in the GCC and we are not an exception. However, it does not mean we did not grow our portfolio of clients from Africa. We still closed almost $17 to $18 million worth of sales last year, attracting a lot of Africans to Dubai.
What would you like to change in the travel industry?
One of the major hindrances to the growth of tourism is that many countries make it tough for certain nationalities to get tourist visas. It has always been easy and convenient for tourists to visit Dubai – the process of applying and getting a tourist visa is quite simple and easy.
But that’s not the case with other tourist destinations. I would like to see that process of getting visas become easier for tourists.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.