Al Marjan Island to be home to region’s first ‘sportainment’ destination
Thursday, March 29, 2012
His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr al Qassimi, ruler of RAK, Florentin Perz Presdent Real Madrid

One of the world’s biggest and best supported football clubs, Real Madrid,  today  revealed  more details of its ambitious plan about the world’s first ‘sportainment’ destination on Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK).

Following an unveiling in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium last week, the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, was joined in the Northern emirate by Real President, Florentino Perez, where the two leaders outlined more of their vision for the island and the role it will play in tourism development in RAK.

His Highness Sheikh Saqr said the 50-hectare resort, will be the flagship of the Al Marjan Development and aims to attract one million visitors a year when it is completed in January 2015.  

Florentino Perez said that RAK had been chosen for the pioneering project due to the Emirate’s location, equidistant between Europe and the Far East, home to half the estimated 300million fans and followers of the club.

“And because the government shared the vision, drive and ambition to work with the club in creating a unique concept of ‘Sportainment’,” he said. “The world of sports and Real Madrid again prove to have no boundaries and that football is a fantastic tool with which to bring together diverse nationalities and cultures. This team's fans are passionate wherever they may be and never give up. Their dreams motivate us on a daily basis."

The first recreational tourism complex built under the Real Madrid trademark will be a comprehensive sporting destination complete with luxury hotels, a marina and amusement park featuring the use of latest technologies such as hologram animations. It will also house a 10,000-seat stadium, the first in the world to open directly open to the sea, as well as sports facilities, a club museum, shopping mall, private beaches and residential areas.

Perez added: 'This is a decisive and strategic step that will enhance the strength of this institution in the Middle East and Asia, a key region in which the passion for this club is very apparent and growing. The project may be seen as unusual for a football club, but we feel this will set a trend across the industry as clubs try to find new ways to make money.”
Louis-Armand de Rougé, the CEO of RAK Marjan Island Football, the entity behind the project, added “the complex is designed not only for the millions of Real Madrid fans around the world but also for all families wishing to experience an unforgettable moment in a unique place.

“It will also allow Real Madrid to accelerate its growth in Asian and Middle Eastern markets,” he said. “The alignment of our interests and the quality of our dialogue with Real Madrid and the Emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah has played a decisive role in the implementation of this unique concept. We are delighted to participate in this great project and we will work with passion to welcome the fans and their families at the Real Madrid Resort Island. It will truly be a dream island,” he added.

The development will also be a decisive step forward towards the emirate becoming a tourism destination in its own right.

By 2021, RAK expects around 20per cent  of its GDP will be generated by tourism-related activities, which even by 2011 figures would mean the industry would be generating in excess of $1bn per year, an excellent return on investments currently under way.

Dr. Khater Massaad, the CEO of RAK Investment Authority (RAKIA) said there couldn’t be a better advertisement for investment opportunities in tourism related real estate developments.

“Ras Al-Khaimah is proud to host Real Madrid on the beautiful RAK Marjan Island to promote sport tourism in the UAE and offer a gateway for this universal brand to the Middle East and Asia,” he said. “This is the first of numerous investment opportunities that will become available in the near future.” 

Zinedine Zidane and Emilio Butragueño were also in attendance at the press conference held on the site of the development on Al Marjan Island where the majority of the basic infrastructure is complete.