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UAE’s first casino resort in Ras Al Khaimah appoints builder

An exterior view Wynn hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. Reuters/Steve March
Wynn's CEO confirmed that the planned casino in RAK will be even bigger than its 110,000sq ft site in Las Vegas
  • Wynn plans 1,000-room casino resort in UAE
  • Bauer and Alec Engineering & Contracting are named builders
  • Ras Al Khaimah focuses on sustainable tourism

Construction preparation work has begun on the UAE’s first casino resort project, it was confirmed on Wednesday.

Wynn Resorts, which is based in Las Vegas, announced plans last year to build a casino within its multi-billion-dollar resort on Ras Al Khaimah’s Marjan Island.

Set to open its doors in early 2027, the development will be constructed by Alec Engineering & Contracting, following an announcement by Marian, in partnership with RAK Hospitality Holding and Wynn Resorts.

German foundation specialist Bauer International will undertake the piling and enabling works.

“We look forward to utilising our extensive experience to deliver what will indisputably be a waterfront destination, unlike anything seen before,” – Barry Lewis, managing director of ALEC Engineering and Contracting LLC, said in a press statement.

The Wynn resort will feature more than 1,000 rooms, a shopping mall, conference facilities, a spa and more than 10 restaurants and lounges, plus what it has previously referred to as a “gaming area”.

When asked by AGBI in June last year whether this referred to introducing the UAE’s first casino in the traditional sense, Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (Raktda), said: “We’ve got four years to figure out what that is.

“So, I think, rather than rush into something that might change, or we might not be sure what it is, we need to study things to make sure we do things the right way.”

However, in an analyst’s call last November, Wynn CEO Craig Billings said: “The casino component, where at least for some period of time we will be operating on our own, which makes it quite exciting, is shaping up to be somewhat larger than Wynn Las Vegas.”

In 2022 1.13 million tourists visited RAK, exceeding pre-coronavirus pandemic levels amid plans to triple the number of tourists it attracts to three million a year by the end of the decade.

Raktda has also announced plans to increase the number of hotel rooms in the emirate to 12,747 within the next five years. The figure stood at 8,130 rooms as of August 2022.

A critical part of its post-pandemic economic recovery strategy has been the push for greater sustainable practices in its hospitality and leisure sectors.

In 2021, Raktda set out a sustainable tourism strategy to position the emirate as a leader in eco-tourism by 2025.

Alec has delivered 24 hotel and resort projects in the UAE and Oman worth AED10.7 billion ($2.91 billion), including the Qasr Al Sara desert resort by Anantara, the third phase of the Madinat Jumeirah resort, Waldorf Astoria DIFC and the Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri in Abu Dhabi.