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Dubai is getting a Vegas-style island with MGM, Bellagio and Aria hotels

The Island (Credit:

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 center piece 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.

Downtown Dubai (Unsplash)

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.

For now, there’s no official word on whether The Island will feature licensed gaming. 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.

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.

As per the MGM earnings call, Hornbuckle said the brand saw “a significant opportunity if gaming were to be legalized, first in UAE and ultimately in Dubai.”



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