High Stakes

Gulf’s first casino resort sparks building boom in Ras Al Khaimah

Las Vegas casino operator Wynn Resorts is building a $4 billion hotel complex on the artificial Marjan islands along the kingdom's Red Sea coast

The Wynn Hotel & Casino on the famed Las Vegas Strip. (Photo: Getty Images)

Anticipation of the Gulf’s first sanctioned casino complex has sparked a development boom in the UAE emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, with five-star resorts and multi-million dollar villas rapidly springing up from the desert sands.

Las Vegas casino operator Wynn Resorts last year announced plans for a $4 billion resort on the artificial Marjan islands, about one hour’s drive north of Dubai, which had been all but abandoned since they were completed in 2013.

Now, more than 20 developers are busy at work with Marjan, the owner of the islands, planning to build 9,000 new hotel rooms and as many villas, Bloomberg reports.

Currently there are six hotels with a total of 3,052 rooms, including JW Marriott and Rixos.

Already popular with Russian and Chinese tourists, the resort is expected to lure foreign gamblers looking for a taste of Las Vegas closer to home.

RAK’s small international airport is planning to triple its capacity to 2 million passengers with construction of a new terminal by 2027, when the casino resort is expected to open to the public.