A NEW law regulating “timeshare” in hotels and tourist facilities with fines of up to BD50,000 or jail time of up to three years, or both, is set to be introduced in Bahrain.

The 36-article urgently, government-drafted legislation is set for a debate and vote during Parliament’s extraordinary session today.

A timeshare is a collective model of vacation real estate in which multiple buyers own or lease allotments of usage, typically in one-week increments, for the same property.

The model is used for many different properties, with units offered in vacation resorts, condominiums, apartments and camp grounds.

Tourism Minister Fatima Al Sairafi told Parliament’s services committee that the law aims to define the rights of all parties involved in timeshare.

She added that this comes due to an increase in interest in such investment, which requires legislative assurances.

Industry and Commerce Minister Abdulla bin Adel Fakhro also highlighted the importance of such legislation as the country opens up for more companies providing such services.

The Central Bank of Bahrain has backed the legislation.

The Survey and Land Registration Bureau and the Real Estate Regulatory Authority have also backed the legislation stating that an agreement has been reached with the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority for timeshare in existing properties or those under construction.

Under the legislation, the Tourism Minister could automatically issue an administrative penalty of up to BD50,000 as fines and closure of up to three months, or termination of the licence permanently.

Those affected have the right to file a grievance.

However, for cases referred to the Public Prosecution, the punishment is between BD1,000 and BD50,000, jail time between 24 hours and three years, or both.

The cases referred to the Public Prosecution involve selling, promoting and advertising unlicensed products, providing false information, cheating the system and preventing tourist inspectors from doing their job.

The Tourism Minister will issue a fees chart from whenever the law is published in the Official Gazette.

Meanwhile, MPs will vote on a request to hold an open debate on unemployment and job opportunities presented by 10 MPs led by Mohammed Al Marafi.

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