Wynn Resorts seals multi-billion-dollar gaming deal in UAE

UAE gives green light to legalised gaming at new integrated resort in Ras Al Khaimah

Wynn Resorts, the US-listed international developer and operator of luxury resorts, has announced a multi-billion-dollar integrated resort development on the man-made island of Al Marjan in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates.

A statement confirmed that the project would be developed by a consortium with Marjan and RAK Hospitality Holding. Al Marjan Island is located close to Ras Al Khaimah International Airport and 45 minutes from Dubai International Airport.

The approval marks the first gaming deal in the UAE and major departure for the muslim nation with global tourism appeal – and all eyes will be on Dubai, renowned for its western-friendly lifestyle and offshore projects, to see if it follows suit. 

Comprising four islands, Al Marjan has more than 7kms of beaches and 23 kilometres of waterfront, in addition to leading hospitality and residential developments. Built on reclaimed land, it spans a total area of 2.7mn sqm on the Arabian Gulf, and while there have been signs of development – hotels include Doubletree by Hilton Resort and Spa Marjan Island – Wynn Resorts will take its profile into a new commercial realm.

The property will be on one of the exclusive islands, covering an area of 250,000sqm, and will be the first beach resort developed by the developer globally. The current scope of work includes a 1,000-plus room hotel, high-end shopping mall, modern meeting and convention facility, spa, more than 10 restaurants and lounges, range of entertainment choices and amenities – as well as the gaming area. 

The integrated resort will be developed with significant foreign direct investment by Wynn Resorts. As the largest project of its kind in the Emirate's growing hospitality sector, it will create substantial value to the local economy by accelerating tourism, creating jobs, and energising the growth of related sectors.  

Set to be completed in 2026, the entire project will be developed to the highest standards of sustainability best practices, the developer added. It will be the third-largest in the UAE after Dubai’s JW Marriott Marquis with 1,600 rooms and Atlantis The Palm with around 1,500.

Eng. Abdulla Al Abdooli, CEO of Marjan, said the new integrated resort highlights the fast-growing recognition of Ras Al Khaimah as a leading investment destination for high-quality hospitality projects. "The integrated development ... will add to the Emirate's destination strategy to attract tourists from across the world. By leveraging Wynn Resorts' expertise in developing luxury hospitality destinations, the new development will raise the benchmark in luxury hospitality in the region. It will also create exceptional value to the Ras Al Khaimah economy and boost the leisure, business, and MICE tourism sectors,” he added.

The development follows on from the recent announcement by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) about the formation of a new division that will regulate ‘integrated resorts’ that will include hotel operations, convention space, entertainment, restaurants and lounges, spa, retail and gaming facilities.

Craig Billings, newly appointed CEO of Wynn Resorts, said: "Al Marjan Island is a pristine setting and an ideal greenfield location for us to create the one-of-a-kind guest experiences for which Wynn Resorts is renowned.  The region offers tremendous potential for the hospitality and tourism industry."

The new resort is in the initial stages of design and development and will be applying for an integrated resort licence from Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority. Wynn Resorts is known for its casino hotel resorts in Las Vegas, Boston and Macau.

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