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Casino plan tempts Dubai’s Danube to buy plots in RAK

Ras Al Khaima casino Shutterstock
The planned arrival of a casino in Ras Al Khaima has given a big boost to property prices in the emirate
  • Wynn casino due to open 2027
  • Apartment prices up 18%
  • Danube Group ‘looking at plots’

Danube Properties, a Dubai-based real estate developer, is pursuing land deals in Ras Al Khaimah as the emirate’s real estate market heats up, driven by the planned arrival of a casino.

Prices for one-bedroom apartments are now matching or even exceeding those in Downtown Dubai, an upmarket part of the UAE’s commercial capital, after RAK’s decision to allow casino developments.

In 2022 Wynn Resorts, the Las Vegas hotel and casino operator, unveiled plans for a casino within its 1,500-room resort on Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Marjan Island, with an anticipated opening in early 2027.

The casino will be a first in the Gulf region, where gambling has traditionally been prohibited.

Rizwan Sajan, founder and chairman of Danube Group, told AGBI: “Although I’m not a big casino fan, we are definitely looking to do a project over there. I am looking to [buy] some plots.” 

Apartment prices in some developments in Ras Al Khaimah increased by more than 18 percent last year and investor activity continued to rise, according to a report earlier this year by Bayut, a property portal.

Research from real estate consultant Knight Frank last year showed that the Wynn resort and casino in Ras Al Khaimah would increase the likelihood of investing in property in the emirate for nearly a third of high-net-worth individuals it polled.

This figure doubles to 60 percent among East Asian respondents, three times the number of most other regional subgroups.

Vinayak Mahtani, CEO of Bnbme holiday homes, said current prices for off-plan properties close to the planned casino are between AED3,000 and AED4,000 per sq ft, six to eight times the AED500 per sq ft the same units would have fetched before the announcement.

However, Sajan said Ras Al Khaimah’s prices would not overtake Dubai, and he expected property prices in Dubai to go up between 20 and 30 percent in 2024.

Mohit Bhojwani, sales consultant at Property Zone Real Estate in Dubai, said Ras Al Khaimah’s casino development was also likely to boost investment in Dubai “indirectly”, driving up the local market.

“Dubai is now positioned not only as a comprehensive destination offering safety, golden visas, and a lifestyle that includes golf, beaches, marinas, and schools, but also with casinos conveniently accessible next door,” he said. 

“Any visit to Dubai is very likely to include a trip to Ras Al Khaimah, and vice versa, mutually benefitting both markets.”

Bhojwani said advertisements for properties in both emirates now emphasise “proximity to the casino” in Ras Al Khaimah.

While no other plans have been unveiled, the Wynn development is fuelling speculation about the opening of casinos elsewhere in the UAE.

“Any city which has a casino coming in will see a boom,” Sajan said. “We’ve seen it happen in Las Vegas and Macau.”

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