Henderson's new project, dubbed "MOON," will be just like the real moon that Earth's billionaire space tourists may one day visit, only 0.008-percent the size. The said project could easily fit in this futuristic city-state as the chief port and commercial center of the U.A.E. already has a red-hot real estate market, "fueled by the wealthy who fled restrictions imposed in their home countries during the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and Russians seeking refuge amid Moscow's conflict with Ukraine, the Associated Press (AP) reported. (Related: Dubai in crisis as the coronavirus pandemic halts global trade.)
"MOON" will include a destination resort inside the spherical structure, complete with a 4,000-room opulent hotel, a massive arena capable of hosting 10,000 people and a "lunar colony" that would give guests the sensation of actually walking on the moon. The infrastructure would also sit on a pedestal-like circular building beneath it, would glow at night and may include full and crescent moon options. Henderson discussed the project at the travel and tourism trade show "Arabian Travel Market" in Dubai earlier this month.
"We have the biggest 'brand' in the world," Henderson told AP, alluding that the moon itself – the heavenly body – was his brand. "Eight billion people know our brand, and we haven't even started yet," the businessman added.
There also seems to be no problem for the intellectual property (IP) of the heavenly body as according to Article 1 of the "United Nations' 1979 Moon Treaty," lunar resources will not be seized or subjected to "national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation or by any other means." However, the treaty says nothing about what individuals are permitted to do with the moon's unique IP.
Moreover, artist renderings commissioned by Moon World Resorts have tinkered with the location for the "MOON," including the world's tallest building Burj Khalifa. Others have placed it at the Dubai Pearl, a long-dormant project now being destroyed near the man-made Palm Jumeirah archipelago and its unfinished sister, the Palm Jebel Ali.
U.A.E. does not permit casino gaming at the moment, but that may soon change.
Major brands like Caesar's Palace have expressed their desire to operate in Dubai. Wynn Resorts plans to build a $3.9 resort in Ras al-Khaimah north of Dubai with gambling to open in 2027. The operator of high-end hotels and casinos has estimated the casino will command just four percent of the property's 5.6 million square feet, but that would make it larger than the gaming space at Wynn Las Vegas.
Observers say this is an indication that a change to the law is likely to come.
"So, while MOON may not be able to offer gaming right off the bat, it can at least prepare for that amenity in the future, assuming the U.A.E. liberalizes its views on betting," the website Casino.org wrote.
The MOON could fit well into "the legitimacy formula of Dubai's ruling elite," said Christopher Davidson, a Middle East expert who wrote the book "From Sheikhs to Sultanism." Davidson added: "They can be seen as a non-democratic elite, but nonetheless believe strongly in science and progress - and that's ultimately very legitimizing and a megaproject like this would seem to tick all of those boxes."
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