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Wynn Resorts, an American casino developer, has announced a major new venture in the United Arab Emirates, an area historically closed to gambling. The company plans to open a luxurious 1,000-room hotel in Ras al-Khaimah, featuring 10 restaurants and lounges, a spa, convention facility, shopping venues, and a gaming area. This project aligns with a statement from the Ras al-Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, which has introduced a new Department of Entertainment and Gaming Regulation. This department will oversee integrated resorts that combine hotel operations, entertainment spaces, restaurants, spas, retail shops, convention areas, and potentially gaming, although it's unclear if this includes traditional gambling.

The project is in its early design phase, with completion expected by 2026. It represents a significant shift for the UAE, known for its stringent Islamic laws that traditionally forbid gambling. This development could mark a substantial liberalization in the UAE's approach, diversifying its economy beyond oil and increasing its competitiveness in global tourism and hospitality. The resort will be located on Al Marjan Island, a man-made island less than an hour from Dubai International Airport.

Ras al-Khaimah, the UAE's northernmost emirate, has been striving to enhance its tourism sector, often overshadowed by Dubai. The new gaming regulator promises to follow global best practices, considering the social, cultural, and environmental context of the emirate. This move by Wynn Resorts, renowned for its luxurious casinos and hotels in Las Vegas and Macau, could significantly impact the UAE's tourism and economic landscape.