The Saudi government has withdrawn the time-share concept for non-Saudis in the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, an embassy statement said here.

“Due to intensive infrastructure construction activities undertaken by the government of Saudi Arabia, which entails construction of dozens of news hotels, for the benefit of pilgrims to the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, the practice of time-share activity in tourist units in the two cities (other than through inheritance) has been prohibited for non-Saudis with immediate effect,” the embassy stated quoting a government announcement.

The Saudi government had, in 2005, begun the time-share concept for tourist real estate units, such as hotels and guesthouses,and defined the responsibilities and obligations of contracting parties, with penalties for violators of the regulations.

Makkah draws up to two million Muslims to the annual Haj pilgrimage, when they spend weeks in the holy city. This prompts increased demand for a variety of accommodation, from shared rooms in flats to luxury rooms in the city’s upcoming five star hotels.

The purpose of the regulation was to protect all parties from intentional or unintentional misuse of the time-sharing.

The concept of time-share is a common tourist and recreational activity globally, and many countries had developed and modernized the regulations governing this activity. The time-share system allows distribution of costs related to construction, furnishing, management, operation and maintenance on more than one stakeholder — the tourist, the hotelier, financiers, etc. — thereby reducing the costs for tourists, especially as tourism is no longer limited only to high-income people.

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