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First Casino Near Dubai Spurs Major Development

Property Planned On Man-Made Island

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A planned casino resort in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has spurred construction and investment on four small man-made islands that sat mostly unused for the last year, according to recent reports.

Wynn Resorts plans on building a $4 billion property and that has prompted several other developments, including homes, resorts, shops, and more on the artificial Marjan Islands. The islands are located off the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) and are also close to Dubai. UAE is also adding a new airport terminal to handle the increase in tourists expected from the projects.

“The Wynn casino and resort has been a game changer for Marjan,” Dubai Investments PJSC CEO Khalid Bin Kalban told Bloomberg.

The company is building a hotel and residential in the area. “Everyone is there in anticipation that RAK’s tourism will grow rapidly with the casino. It’s about the gaming, the shows, the hotels. You’re essentially bringing a mini-Vegas to Ras Al Khaimah.”

Details On The Project

Plans call for Wynn to build a 1,500-room beachside hotel and casino, which will be one of the company’s largest properties. The property will also include a shopping venue, a spa, and meetings and event space.

The resort is expected to open in 2027 and is just a one-hour drive from Dubai.

Progress as of May 2024Adding a casino is a major change for the UAE. Gambling is illegal and also isn’t allowed under Islam. Violators can face fines and up to two years in prison. However, the country now appears to be encouraging gambling at least to some extent as a driver of tourism and economic development.

“The UAE has created an authority to provide a framework for legalized gaming, although no laws legalizing it have been passed so far,” Bloomberg reports.

Lebanon and Egypt have several casinos, but UAE officials are planning a complete resort and home destination built around the Wynn property. The islands are owned by the Al Marjan Island Company, which is planning 9,000 hotel rooms and about the same number of homes on the islands. That is in addition to the 3,052 rooms and 3,000 apartments already on the site.

“Marjan Island is different from the daily hustle and bustle of being in downtown Dubai or Abu Dhabi,” Al Abdouli said. “It’s a getaway. Many of the visitors come from other parts of the UAE for staycations. There are mountainous areas for hiking, biking, triathlons and beaches. But the Wynn resort will be a catalyst like no other in the UAE.”

Wynn also owns casino resorts in Macau. Gaming has opened up in other areas around the world over the last few years, with Japan also recently legalizing gambling.

*Photos by Wynn Resorts