موقع إخباري يهتم بفضائح و انتهاكات دولة الامارات

UAE Plans Gambling Clubs amid Religious Opposition

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International media spotlight UAE’s decision to open gambling clubs, amidst other controversial moves like permitting unmarried cohabitation and making Friday a regular workday.

Bloomberg reports on a $4 billion resort project in Ras Al Khaimah, introducing casinos, undertaken by Win Resort, marking another controversial step by state authorities against Islamic principles.

The agency stated that the artificial Marjan Islands area off the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is currently teeming with construction workers who are building five-star resorts, shops and villas worth $7 million, while developers expect this resort to become a major tourist attraction once it opens to the public in 2027.

Prior to this agreement, the four Coral Islands, spanning 2.7 square kilometers, were overlooked and underdeveloped following the cancellation of a billion-dollar deal for a football-themed resort and academy linked to Real Madrid.

The agency highlighted the current surge in land sales, rapid construction with towering cranes, and billboards promoting upcoming residential developments.

The agency quoted the CEO of Al-Marjan Company, the government agency developing the islands, Abdullah Al-Abdouli, as saying that at least 20 developers have projects in various stages of design and construction on the islands. Most projects are expected to be completed within just six years.

It mentions that the new construction will involve billions of dollars, although the exact amount remains uncertain.

Bloomberg pointed out that while Las Vegas took decades to reach its current status, officials in the Emirates have more ambitious plans.

Marjan Company, which owns the islands, aims to build about 9,000 hotel rooms and a similar number of homes to add to existing properties.

The islands currently host six hotels with a total of 3,052 rooms as well as about 3,000 apartments, including the JW Marriott and Rixos. Las Vegas has approximately 155,000 hotel rooms, and about 10% of that total will be located in Ras Al Khaimah within a generation.

But for the emirate, which welcomed 1.2 million visitors last year, current supply is sharply lagging behind demand, said Al Abdouli, Marjan’s CEO.

With about 8,000 rooms, the opportunity exists for developers to grow the market and attract new visitors, he added.

Al Abdouli stated, “Al Marjan Island offers a serene escape from the bustling cities of Dubai or Abu Dhabi. It attracts visitors from across the Emirates with its tranquil environment, mountain trails for hiking and cycling, and pristine beaches. Wynn Resort is expected to significantly enhance this experience in the Emirates.”

In preparation for increased visitor numbers, the agency announced plans to expand the emirate’s small international airport with a new terminal. This development aims to boost annual capacity to accommodate 2 million passengers by 2027, nearly tripling the current expectation of 700,000 passengers this year.

According to the agency, Ras Al Khaimah boasts a 40-mile coastline along the Arabian Gulf, catering to Russian tourists seeking a more affordable alternative to Dubai, with the completion of Al Marjan Islands in 2013.

The agency cited Khaled Bin Kalban, CEO of Dubai Investments, involved in constructing a hotel and residential community, stating: “Wynn Casino and Resort has revolutionized Marjan’s prospects. Anticipation is high for rapid tourism growth in Ras Al Khaimah due to the casino, promising a Vegas-like atmosphere with games, shows, and hotels.”

The agency explained that prices exploded on the island, and for the lucky few who bought early, the returns were amazing. Not long ago, prices per square foot were 300 dirhams (about $82), but now you can’t find anything less than 800 dirhams, Bin Kalban said.

The agency reported that the introduction of casinos represents a significant shift for the UAE, where gambling is prohibited by Islamic law and illegal under national legislation. Offenders may face fines, imprisonment up to two years, or both. Casinos are absent in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, though they operate in Lebanon and Egypt.

Last September, the UAE announced the establishment of the “General Authority for Regulating Commercial Games,” which will work as a federal body to provide a regulatory framework for commercial games and lotteries, according to official Abu Dhabi media.

Abu Dhabi announced the appointment of Kevin Mulally as CEO of the Authority, citing him as a “global expert with over three decades of experience in regulating commercial gaming internationally.”

Mulally previously served as executive director of the Missouri Gaming Commission, overseeing the state’s riverboat casinos.

The Associated Press noted Abu Dhabi’s establishment of this authority as a sign that the UAE is moving closer to permitting gambling, attracting industry leaders to the Gulf state.

According to the agency, the authority operates under the guidance of “a team of renowned experts in the field, with extensive experience in organizing and managing secure and responsible gaming activities.”