The operators of the man-made Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah expect developer and investor interest to increase within the next few years as the influx of visitors continues to grow.
Abdullah Al Abdooli, MD of Al Marjan Island, told the Khaleej Times that Ras Al Khaimah provides many investment opportunities for developers. According to CBRE, Ras Al Khaimah is the fastest-growing hospitality and tourism market in the UAE, with an 8.7-percent increase between 2014 and 2017. The other emirates, in comparison, have increased by 5.7 percent in the same period.
"Al Marjan Island in particular offers a lot of return on investment for developers," Al Abdooli said. "It is the vision of the government of Ras Al Khaimah to reach 3 million visitors by 2025. To achieve that number, we need an additional 15,000 hotel keys in the emirate. Out of this number, roughly 8,000 will be in Al Marjan Island. We expect that 4,000 hotel keys will be added at the island by 2020."
The Al Marjan Island project already has several hotel developments, including the DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa, Marjan Island Resort and Spa and Rixos Bab Al Bahr, to aid the government in achieving this goal. Earlier this year, Crowngate International began construction on the Avani Resort on Al Marjan. The hotel is expected to open around 2020 and will be managed by Minor Hotels.
“We've attracted investments from major international investors and global developers that have aided the increase of the residential and hospitality offering," Al Abdooli said. "Around 70 percent of Al Marjan Island is sold, and 30 percent is under commercial negotiations. It has taken us about five years to sell this amount, but 100 percent of the infrastructure has been completed. We have 2,000 residential units already operational since 2014."
The island has also added two more resort developments to its portfolio. After starting talks with Al Marjan Island in 2016, Fam Holding agreed to acquire a 126,000 square-foot site to develop the 548-guestroom Al Mahra Resort, which is slated to launch in 2021. Construction is set to begin this year. “We are in the final stages of the design and have already opened an escrow account with Dubai Islamic Bank. The market feedback in the first week alone has been amazing, and 20 percent of the hotel has booked. We expect to sell everything within the next six months,” Faisal Ali Mousa, chairman of Fam Holding, told Khaleej Times.
The other resort project is MR Properties’ $108.9-million beachfront development, the developer’s second on Al Marjan Island. The new 500-guestroom hotel will be developed on a 116,961 square-foot plot and is set for completion by Q4 2019. It follows the development of MR Properties’ 723-guestroom DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Worldwide’s largest guestroom stock in the UAE.