Planned Real resort island may be relocated to Abu Dhabi

By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - A planned $1 billion Real Madrid-branded resort in the United Arab Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) has been halted and the project may be switched to Abu Dhabi, a senior executive at the master developer and the club said on Thursday.

The 50-hectare (124 acre) attraction was to have been built on the man-made Marjan Island in RAK, 105 kilometres north of its more illustrious neighbour Dubai.

Real Madrid President Florentino Perez and former World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane, now an assistant to coach Carlo Ancelotti, attended the glitzy project launch in March 2012.

Drawings were displayed for a 450-room hotel, a marina and yacht club and a Real Madrid museum, plus an amusement park and a 10,000-capacity stadium.

At the time, Louis-Armand de Rouge, chief executive of Real Madrid Resort Island, a Luxembourg-based company, said the complex would open in January 2015.

But building work never started and Rouge's company did not buy the land upon which the resort was meant to be built, Michael Hernandez, project director of Marjan Island, told Reuters on Thursday.

He said the project had been "put on hold" and that Marjan Island had no commitments relating to the resort.

In the UAE, developers often prefer to describe mothballed projects as postponed or "on hold" rather than officially scrapping them, even if years pass without any work being conducted on them.

A Real spokeswoman said media reports in Spain that the project had been scrapped were untrue and there was a possibility the resort would now be built in Abu Dhabi.

At the 2012 launch, de Rouge said "there are already heaps of people that want to buy most of it", adding prospective investors included "individuals, private institutions and some financial institutions".

Should the resort not be built, it would add to a host of sports-themed projects in the UAE that failed in the wake of the financial crisis, including a Tiger Woods-branded golf and real estate development and a Bollywood project.

A property market recovery seen in Dubai has not helped other Emirates, where projects have been stalled for years

Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, meanwhile, has sought to establish itself as a tourist destination, hosting a Formula One Grand Prix from 2009.

It is also home to Ferrari World, which claims to be the world's largest indoor theme park, a 15-hectare water park and wildlife reserve containing about 15,000 animals.

De Rouge did not respond to emailed requests to comment and could not be contacted on the phone number listed on his business card.

(Additional reporting by Iain Rogers in Madrid, editing by Alison Wildey)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

On Now: Kolkata vs Bangalore

On Now: Kolkata vs Bangalore

IPL 7, GAME 11—Aaron's spell restricts Kolkata to 150-7. More »

Kolkata bowling vs Bangalore batting might

Kolkata bowling vs Bangalore batting might

The likely return of Gayle will boost Bangalore, but the result could be determined by Kolkata's bowlers. More »

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting the IPL as a means of protest against the grime in the game may not yield the desired results. More »

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gautam made an eight-ball duck in the opening game against Mumbai and in the second game against Delhi, he lasted only half those balls. More »

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

The group opposed to Srinivasan alleged that since BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel belongs to the president’s group, he was intentionally delaying the SGM… More »

April 24: A legend is born

As Sachin Tendulkar turns 41 - here's a look at some offbeat moments from the Master Blaster's innings. More »

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

Sri Lanka depart for assignments in Ireland and England in two weeks, and Sanath Jayasuriya suggested Marvan Atapattu would be interim head coach for those… More »

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Herath has been rested, while the team will be without the veteran pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who retired from T20 internationals… More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

Dalmiya said that it was the first time that the BCCI had been faced with a situation where the apex court had hauled up the Board and it should have acted… More »

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

The ECB continued the restructuring of the England coaching set-up on Wednesday by announcing the appointment of Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

The pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 13 contracted players ended on Wednesday when the latter agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation… More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

The Mukul Mudgal probe committee dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by making a sensational claim that it was forced to stop audio recording… More »

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

IPL7, GAME 9—Maxwell (95, 43b), Balaji (4-13) set up 72-run win. More »

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Money talks, but it is in light of this ICC shakeup that the ECB's act of soliciting of another team's coach deteriorates from free-market aggression to… More »

Farbrace quits for England post

Farbrace quits for England post

He will assist Peter Moores who was unveiled as the new England coach on Saturday. More »

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Pakistan on Monday reappointed Moin Khan as chief selector and manager of the national team, a week after fellow former captain Rashid Latif turned down… More »

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

IPL7, MATCH 8—Raina-led middle order, superlative catching give CSK a 93-run win. More »

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

The former BCCI president says he was "disillusioned" by the happenings at the emergent working committee meeting on Sunday. More »