Surprised that there are casinos in Middle East, and UAE is building a casino which will be one of the ten biggest casinos in the world

The reports of the Sarawak Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister, Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah telling PAS there was nothing wrong with setting up a casino in Sarawak and that “Sarawak not just for Muslims” sent me on an Internet search and I was surprised to learn that there are casinos in the Middle East and that UAE is building a casino which will be one of the ten biggest casinos in the world when it is opened in 2026.

I learnt that from Lebanon to Egypt, the Middle East boasts some of the most prestigious and luxurious casinos in the world and that there is no need to go to Las Vegas to enjoy slot machines and other classic casino games.

The casinos in the Middle East which offer the same world-class experience and gold-star service that high rollers and casual gamblers expect include Casino du Liban in Lebanon, the largest in the region, the London Club Casino, Casino Semiramis, Maritim Jolie Villa Resort & Casino, Radjah Grand Casino, and Sinai Grand Casino in Egypt.

In January 2022, the Nevada-based Casino giant Wynn which operates in Las Vegas and Macau announced the opening of a 1,000-room resort in the UAE emirate of Ras al Khaimah in 2026, which will be one of the ten biggest casinos in the world.

Ras Al Khaimah is one of the smaller and lesser-known of the seven UAE emirates.

The UAE is competing with Saudi Arabia, which is opening up, to be the top tourist destination in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia, which has five UNESCO world heritage sites, has a 2030 tourism plan where tourism will contribute 10 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product, a figure which would likely to amount over US$100 billon.

Part of this Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 project is to create a tourism hub nearly twice the size of Wales on its unspoilt Red Sea coastline which will cover some 34,000 square kilometres between the cities of Umluf and Alwajh, including 50 islands, and be governed by laws “on par with international standards”.

It is not only glitzy resorts that Saudi Arabia has promised. There are plans in place to build US$500 billion megacity called “Neom” in the economically neglected northwest of the country, where robots would outnumber humans, with “hologram teachers”, cloud seeding in the city, with Neom becoming the largest city globally by GDP.

Of the 55 Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) countries, only four countries have a majority of Muslims of less than 65% — Malaysia, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.

Malaysia is well-placed, compared to the other three countries, to be a role model for the world for inter-ethnic, inter-religious, inter-cultural and inter-civilisational dialogue, understanding, tolerance, and harmony.

Do Malaysians and all political parties agree and is Parliament prepared to move a motion in the May/June meeting to elevate this objective to a national mission?


(Media Statement by DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang in Penang on Monday, 24th April 2023)

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