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RAK casino plan is a trump card for property investors

The Wynn resort and casino is set to open in 2027 on Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Kahaimah Wynn
The Wynn resort and casino is set to open in 2027 on Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Kahaimah
  • Third of wealthy investors in Knight Frank survey see casino as bonus
  • RAK transforming its tourism offer to be “enticing alternative” to Dubai
  • 42% of survey respondents expect more gaming plans in UAE

Plans to build the UAE’s first casino in Ras Al Khaimah are improving the odds of the emirate appealing to property investors around the world.

New research from real estate consultant Knight Frank reveals the upcoming Wynn resort and casino would increase the likelihood to invest in property in the emirate for nearly a third of high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) surveyed.

This figure doubles to 60 percent among East Asian respondents – triple the number of most other regional subgroups.

The 18,500 sq m casino is set to open in 2027 on Al Marjan Island in the capital of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), which has a population of 116,000.

Last year the emirate welcomed 1.13 million tourists, which was 4 percent higher than pre-pandemic numbers reported in 2019.

Knight Frank is also observing increased investment activities among developers not previously present in RAK.

The emirate has been transforming its tourism offering since 2004, adding hotels, golf courses and extreme sports attractions designed to make it an “enticing alternative” to Dubai, said Faisal Durrani, head of Middle East research at Knight Frank.

“Part of this plan involves the 1,500-room Wynn hotel and responsible gaming resort, now under construction,” he added.

While 55 percent of global HNWIs said the emergence of a gaming resort in RAK does not influence them, 30 percent said it makes it more attractive as a place to invest. This rises to 50 percent for those with a net worth of more than $10 million.

Durrani said he saw a “positive trend” for investment and tourism in the UAE as emirates such as RAK continue to diversify their attractions and align their offerings with the “evolving preferences of global investors”.

News of the gaming resort debut has fuelled speculation about the opening of casinos elsewhere in the UAE.

RAK casino property investors UAEWynn Las Vegas
Las Vegas meets UAE: lavish design plans for the interiors of Wynn development in RAK

While no other plans have been unveiled, 42 percent of respondents to the survey expect more casino plans to follow in the country. This figure rises to 54 percent when considering those intent on making a residential purchase in Dubai.

Last month, RAK’s tourism chief said he would welcome more hotels with “gaming” elements to their offering as the emirate pushes its visitor number target to five million by 2030.

RAK Tourism Development Authority CEO Raki Phillips told AGBI: “As an emirate we’re open for business. We’re always happy to have conversations with operators.”

As well as the designated “gaming area”, the Wynn Al Marian Island will feature 1,500 rooms, a shopping mall, conference facilities, spa and more than 10 restaurants and lounges.

Knight Frank surveyed 183 global HNWIs, each with a net worth of more than $3 million, excluding the value of their primary residence, in partnership with YouGov.