Wynn Resorts has announced its first foray into the Middle East with plans for a “multi-billion” integrated resort project on Al Marjan Island, as the United Arab Emirates moves to legalize gaming.
The U.S. operator is teaming with Marjan and RAK Hospitality Holding on the resort, which is scheduled to open in 2026. The company gave no exact investment figures, but Deutsche Bank analysts in a note said the total project cost is likely to be about $2 billion.
After talks with management, the firm said the deal is likely to be structured along the lines of a management contract lodging structure, under which Wynn receive a fee of about 5% of net revenue, plus an investment fee based on EBITDA. It will also own a piece of the real estate venture from which it could receive dividends.
Wynn is likely to invest about $250-$300 million in the project, Deutsche Bank said, adding that Wynn fees are likely to be $60-$80 million assuming $300 million of EBITDA.
Wynn said the resort will be the largest of its kind foreign direct investment in Ras Al Khaimah, where the man-made island is situated. The resort will feature a 1,000-room luxury hotel, shopping, MICE facilities, gaming and more than ten restaurants.
The island is 15 minutes from Ral Al Khaimah airport and 45 minutes from Dubai International Airport.
“Al Marjan Island is a pristine setting and an ideal greenfield location for us to create the one-of-a-kind guest experiences for which Wynn Resorts is renowned,” said Craig Billings, newly appointed CEO of Wynn Resorts. “The region offers tremendous potential for the hospitality and tourism industry, and we are excited about the prospect of developing an integrated resort in Ras Al Khaimah.”
The new resort is in the initial stages of design and development and will be applying for an integrated resort licence from Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.
Marjan is the master developer of free-hold property in Ras Al Khaimah, which is being positioned as a leading tourism and investment destination in the region. RAK Hospitality is an integrated hospitality and leisure. company.
“The integrated development, featuring a world-class hotel, entertainment and gaming amenities, will add to the Emirate’s destination strategy to attract tourists from across the world, Marjan CEO Eng. Abdulla Al Abdooli said. We are partnering with Wynn Resorts, one of the world’s most renowned integrated resort companies, which has a strong track record of developing luxury destinations with exceptional accommodation, dining, entertainment concepts and gaming facilities.”
The resort will be Wynn’s first beachfront destination and covers an area of about 250,000 square metres.
In a separate release, the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority announced the formation of a new division focused on integrated resorts
“The regulatory structure will address the entire gaming enterprise within integrated resorts, requiring compliance with all applicable laws and regulations,” it said.
To be known as the Department of Entertainment and Gaming Regulation, the body’s “foremost priority” will be to ensure a robust framework that will ensure responsible gambling at all levels, it said.
Deutsche Bank said it expected the regulation to be modelled along the lines of the regime adopted in Singapore, with variable taxes on mass and premium gaming.
UAE citizens, who make up about 10 percent of the 10 million population will not be permitted to enter. There will be an entry fee, but guests will be given a voucher to spend in non-gaming areas.
The UAE is seeking to develop its tourism market. It attracts about 22 million visitors a year and Dubai’s airport is a key global hub connecting Asia, Europe and Africa.