Gaming and hospitality giant Wynn ResortsWynn Design & Development, a subsidiary of , has appointed an Executive Vice President for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This marks one of the first emirates-based roles for the Las Vegas-based heavyweightwhich is set to open a multi-billion dollar integrated resort on the man-made Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah.
Derek Sands, a former Macau market staffer, has been appointed to the position. The executive has already moved to the UAEaccording his LinkedIn profile. Sands has been with Wynn Design & Development for eight years nowstarting as a construction services manager in Macau, he rose through the ranks to become president of the Asia division in 2017.
Wynn Design & Development is the creative arm of the business, including interior design and project management. Sands’ appointment to division comes as Wynn prepares for big project in UAEwhose current scope includes a hotel with more than 1,000 rooms, a high-end shopping center, a state-of-the-art meeting and convention center, a spa, more than 10 restaurants and lounges, a wide range of entertainment choices, a center games area, and other amenities.
Wynn announced in January that it would team up with local developer Marjan Properties and hotel and leisure operator RAK Hospitality Holding for the project. The $2 billion integrated resort is aiming for 2026 as the opening date, and JP Morgan Securities said the same month that it expects a 20-year management contract for Wynn.
Wynn’s announcement of its proposed resort in the United Arab Emirates has been called a watershed moment for the Gulf’s relationship with gambling., a region that has traditionally imposed stricter Islamic rules than other parts of the Middle East, as the industry has long been banned. The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) creates a division specifically for the regulation of “integrated resorts in the emirate”, under which the next Wynn property is expected to fall.
So far, what is still quite unclear is how RAK will materialize the introduction of the game. A likely scenario is that the emirate will limit the game to foreigners, in an effort to help boost tourism. RAKTDA’s new division is set to “create a solid framework that will ensure responsible gambling at all levels,” a statement read.
Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings said in an interview last month that the UAE project was “an incredible opportunity” for the company. given that the opening of the property would put 95% of the world’s population “within an eight-hour flight of the Wynn brand”.
“There has been considerable modernization and progression in the UAE. Dubai Airport handles over 80 million passengers a year. There is an incredible amount of incoming visits from Europe, the Middle East, India and other surrounding countries”, Billings Told The Nevada Independent. “We believe there will be a strong cash-based business like the one we have here. We see it as a true extension of our brand.
Wynn CEO Craig Billings
The executive also discussed the importance of the project to the Gulf’s relationship with the game, calling it a “limited supply market”. For the foreseeable future, Wynn should be the only game in this area.
“The management is very forward thinking and Ras Al Khaimah is a very progressive and thoughtful place where they do things with intention,” Billings added.. “We are building on part of an artificial island and the rest is pristine. There are plenty of opportunities to grow beyond that.
During a call with investors in May, the company provided an update on the UAE project, with Wynn then moving into the design phase.. Given the country’s taste for modern, ambitious architecture, Billings said the company doesn’t take the issue lightly, with a substantial amount of his time spent with the design and development team that Sands has now joined. .
“We want to make sure we get the correct offer,” Billings said.. “You have customers in adjacent hotels and you have customers from Dubai. We will have customers from all over the world.