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RAK’s liberal tryst with mega-tourism

Emirate is developing a resort with 10 restaurants, a large convention centre, and a ‘gaming ‘area.



Published: Wed 26 Jan 2022, 11:27 PM

The UAE economy, as we know, is diversifying away from oil and each emirate is doing its bit by speeding up the national diversification drive that will make the country a tourism, retail, cultural, scientific, and space powerhouse.

Tourist numbers are rising even in the middle of the pandemic, and with the further easing of curbs, pre-pandemic figures are not a big ask here in the UAE.

Aviation is getting its wings back and UAE airlines are soaring to meet the challenges posed by the coronavirus that brought the travel industry to its knees two years ago.

While developing a knowledge economy to meet the needs of the fourth industrial revolution is the stated goal, some emirates are thinking out of the box. Others may call it pushing the envelope with bigger and bolder plans to revive and rejuvenate the economy after the pandemic. Dubai continues to build higher while eyeing the space sector and R&D; Abu Dhabi is making a pitch in technology; Sharjah is burnishing its cultural credentials.

Ras Al Khaimah, meanwhile, is breaking the mould in its bid to become a major global tourism hub on its terms. The emirate is expanding into the Arabian Gulf and doing what others haven’t done yet - building a mega, ‘integrated’ resort. The announcement of the multi-billion dollar ‘super’ resort on Tuesday with 10 restaurants, a large convention centre, and a ‘gaming ‘area has put the spotlight on the charming coastal emirate that is now being seen as a pioneer in entertainment and the gaming industry in the Middle East. Intense focus, and scrutiny, however, have taken the sheen away from the concept of gaming. It has been the subject of speculation which takes away from the larger project in the works. Talk of missing the woods for the trees…

It is true that the developer has tied up with a global gaming brand that runs casinos, but local regulations will be in place by 2026 when the resort is expected to welcome visitors. What the overly curious critics of the project miss the larger picture and the message Ras Al Khaimah is sending out: we want to be a globally branded destination and hope to attract a variety of tourists and investors.

We will push boundaries but will keep in mind local cultural norms. ‘Gaming is a responsible form of entertainment and leisure tourism that takes into consideration community, cultural and social norms,’ Marjan, the developer said.

RAK is taking its responsibility seriously while spearheading this ‘integrated’ tourism initiative on its terms with gaming facilities. The regulatory body in the emirate will frame the rules and supervise the gaming business in the emirate. It’s time to let them do their job and make travellers and big investors welcome to the emirate and not be bogged down by semantics.


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