The construction contract for the island, which will feature 1,400 hotel rooms, is the largest awarded in Dubai since 2017…

The Island, a megaproject by Wasl off the coast of Jumeirah, is set to welcome a trio of iconic Las Vegas hotels as MGM, Bellagio and Aria become the centrepiece of this Vegas-inspired development.

First announced back in 2017, not much has been said about the development of The Island, located close to the Burj Al Arab, in recent years. However, according to Meed, developer Wasl has awarded a contract for the construction of the island, reconfirming that the project is still in the pipeline. As per Meed, Wasl has appointed China State Construction Engineering Corporation to build The Island, in an estimated USD1.2 billion (Dhs4.4 billion) deal. The deal is touted as the largest construction deal in Dubai since 2017.

At the time of announcement six years ago, plans were unveiled for the 3.5 million square metre development to become an MGM-operated hotel and entertainment district.

And in the latest MGM earnings call from November 8, 2023, further details on what exactly to expect at The Island were revealed by MGM President and CEO, Bill Hornbuckle. Confirming that the luxury development was ‘under construction,’ he further added that the island would feature 1,400 hotel rooms from the MGM Grand, Bellagio and Aria brands.

For those unfamiliar, the three brands, all of which fall under the MGM umbrella, are some of the biggest names in the Vegas hospitality scene.

Bellagio Las Vegas

Overlooking the iconic Las Vegas lake is the Mediterranean-inspired Bellagio, which features a permanent Cirque du Soleil aqua show as well as a choreographed fountain show. The Aria is a more luxurious big sister brand, and caters to foodies with a slew of high-end restaurants like Catch, Jean-Georges Steakhouse, and Carbone. Perhaps the most famous of them all is the MGM Grand, renowned for its star-studded events, celebrity appearances and hedonistic pool parties.

And, what about a casino?

According to the latest MGM earnings call with MGM CEO, Bill Hornbuckle stated that the amazing USD2.5 billion project Dubai project has not received the green light, and will go ahead without a casino in it.

However, Hornbuckle added that Abu Dhabi has the greatest chance of getting a casino license. He stated, ‘We spent some time on the ground there, specifically in Abu Dhabi, trying to understand the license in general for UAE, but ultimately saw an opportunity in Abu Dhabi on Yas Island.’

Back in 2007, plans for an MGM Grand Abu Dhabi were announced with an opening set for 2012 without gaming. However, by 2011, the project was still under review.

We’re keeping an eye open for updates, so stay tuned.

Elsewhere in UAE…

It’s already been confirmed that Ras Al Khaimah’s upcoming 1,500 room Wynn Resort, slated to open in 2027, will feature a casino.

wynn ras al khaimah

A rendering of Wynn Marjan

Earlier in 2023, the UAE announced plans to set up The General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA), tasked with creating a regulatory framework for national lottery and commercial gaming. Designed to create ‘a well-regulated gaming environment ensuring that all participants adhere to strict guidelines and comply with the highest standards,’ it could pave the way for future licensed gaming entities in the UAE.

Lead Image: BSB Group