Authorities in Ras Al Khaimah hunt for new partners after $1bn megaproject was scrapped in 2013
The government of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is negotiating with a series of potential partners to develop a manmade island off the coast of the emirate that had previously been earmarked to host a $1bn football-themed resort in partnership with Spanish club Real Madrid.
The island is one of four in the Al Marjan archipelago, and the last to be developed.
In 2012, the site made global headlines when Real Madrid signed a deal alongside the RAK government and the RAK Marjan Island Football Investment Fund to build a 50-hectare themed resort on the island, which would have included a stadium and museum dedicated to the club, as well as a marina and luxury hotel.
The ambitious project was scheduled to launch in January 2015.
However, construction never began and in September 2013, Real Madrid scrapped the plan, saying that the project organisers had defaulted on payments.
“We are pursuing and in negotiations with a number of different entities to come and set up development on the island, which is absolutely clean and virgin,” a source close to the talks told Arabian Business.
The source did not give any further details about who the potential partners were, or a timeline for a prospective deal.
Any deal is likely to contain a significant hospitality element, given the number of hotels that have recently opened on the other three islands.
Those properties include the Rixos Bab Al Bahr, a DoubleTree by Hilton and the Al Marjan Island Resort & Spa. Bin Majid Hotels is planning to open the Santorini hotel in 2015, while another DoubleTree by Hilton is set to open in the same year.
Ras Al Khaimah is investing heavily in tourism as it seeks to diversify its economy. The emirate’s Tourism Development Authority reported that 330,000 tourists visited the emirate in the first half of the year, providing $119m in revenues. Hotel occupancy reached just over 64 percent.