Don’t bet on Dubai legalizing casino gambling anytime soon.


-Dubai as casino hub? Tourism chief doesn’t think so-

Don’t bet on Dubai legalizing casino gambling anytime soon. The Gulf News reported that Dubai will remain casino-free even if the state has allowed the entry of international integrated resort brands into the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates.

Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) Chief Executive Issam Kazim made the statement several days after Caesars Entertainment Corp. announced that it’s bringing its Caesars Palace brand to the Middle Eastern city later this year.

Aside from Caesars, Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International had earlier agreed to manage a 26-acre “premier destination resort” for Wasl Hospitality.

Even though Dubai is considered a progressive city, Kazim said the state government still wants to preserve its Islamic culture. Vices, such as gambling and alcohol, are considered ‘haram,’ acts that are considered forbidden by Allah. But there are Muslim countries like Egypt, Tunisia, and Malaysia that permit casino gambling.

“No [there is not a desire for casinos] … We need to bear in mind that there are cultural things that are a priority to us,” Kazim said, according to the news outlet.

Like most Middle Eastern countries, the United Arab Emirates is seeking to diversify its economy by being less dependent on the oil industry, strengthening trade, and achieving an optimal balance among various sectors, such as tourism.

Dubai also plans to attract at least 20 million tourists by 2020, according to the tourism official.

In the case of Caesars, Kazim pointed out that the casino operator will bring the Caesars Palace theme not to encourage people to gamble, but to create “that sort of a destination and experience” in Dubai.

MGM, on the other hand, is bringing MGM-branded residences and a Bellagio-branded hotel containing a total of 1,000 rooms and 10 villas in Dubai. The MGM project, which reportedly occupies “the longest stretch of waterfront ever developed in Dubai,” is set to be completed in 2021.