UAE first ‘gaming’ resort to cost $3.9B: casino operator

The United Arab Emirates’ first “gaming” resort will open in four years and cost $3.9 billion to build, US casino operator Wynn has said, unveiling new details of the flashy project.

The resort will feature “exceptional entertainment and gaming amenities”, Wynn Resorts said on its website without mentioning the word “casino”. Gambling is prohibited under Islamic laws in the oil-rich Gulf state.

Preliminary construction work has begun on Wynn Al Marjan Island, set on a manmade, hotel-studded promontory off Ras Al-Khaimah, one of the UAE’s seven emirates, Wynn Resorts said Thursday in a statement.

The resort, with 1,500 rooms, 24 dining and lounge areas, spa facilities, “high end” shopping and nightly laser and light shows, will open in early 2027, Wynn said, revising an earlier schedule of 2026.

Artists’ impressions of the site, about an hour’s drive from the commercial hub of Dubai, showed a brown-gold high rise towering above a beach area and circular marina, as well as a luxuriously appointed lobby.

“We have spent the past year meticulously programming and concepting Wynn Al Marjan Island, carefully considering its unique location,” Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings said in the statement.

Wynn operates casinos in Las Vegas and Boston as well as Macau, a Chinese territory close to Hong Kong.

The statement did not elaborate on the UAE resort’s “gaming” facilities, and officials at Wynn Resorts and Ras Al-Khaimah’s media office were not immediately available for further comment.

The UAE, whose population is 90-percent foreign, has made a series of liberalising moves as it faces increased regional competition for talent and tourism, notably from neighbouring Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

As well as lifting a ban on unmarried couples living together, loosening restrictions on alcohol and offering long-term residencies, last year it introduced a Saturday-Sunday weekend.

The move brought the UAE into sync with Western countries and markets, but made it the only Gulf country not to observe weekends on a Friday, the Muslim day of prayer.

Agence France-Presse