Should the Gulf Countries Consider Casinos As a Way To Boost Tourism After the COVID Pandemic?

Tourism has been growing in the Persian Gulf over the years. People are interested in visiting Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and all the other intriguing parts of the Gulf.

But there are worries about what will happen in the area due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many segments of the Gulf have been cut off from the rest of the world to prevent the region from experiencing an influx of cases. With this in mind, it may be difficult for the Gulf to become more appealing to tourists after the pandemic ends.

One option that Gulf countries could consider when trying to bring tourists back to the area is to open casinos. Casinos are appealing, as they include many features. While gambling activities are popular at casinos, they are also great sites for dining, entertaining, and for enjoying the nightlife.

But while they are attractive, it may be a challenge for Gulf countries to think about casinos to bring in tourists. According to, online gambling in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, would go against some of the most ingrained rules in the region.

Inviting the World Again

The Gulf countries had been bringing in people from all around the world. But as the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced, it became harder for them to bring in tourists. Emirates even ceased aviation operations for a few weeks. The annual hajj to Mecca had to be stopped, thus keeping many from entering the region for one of the most significant rites in the Islamic faith.

The Gulf region is capable of bringing in tourists. The United Nations World Tourism Organization states that about 87 million tourists arrived in the Middle East and North Africa region in 2018. The value was an increase in 10 percent over 2017. The area has more than enough hotels and activities to bring in people, but extra encouragement may be necessary to bring in people once more. Building casinos could be an idea.

The Rise of Gambling

Via Kogv

It is an understatement to say that gambling activities have become popular over the years. states that there are many opportunities for the Middle East to utilize.

People are spending more money on gambling than ever before. People around the world are spending close to USD $500 billion each year on gambling activities. Gambling is particularly popular in the United States, China, Japan, and South Korea. Opening casinos in the Gulf would make the region more appealing to tourists in those counties. It may also bring in people in Italy, Germany, and other European countries where people like to partake in gambling.

The Greatest Obstacle

As appealing as gambling might be to Gulf countries, it would be difficult to operate them in that region. The main reason why it would be hard to open casinos in Gulf countries is that gambling is banned in the region.

Many of the countries in the Gulf are Islam-majority regions. The Quran, the holy book of the Islamic faith, states that gambling is an example of a “maisir,” which roughly translates from Arabic to “the work of Satan.” People who are devoted to the faith will not engage in gambling activities due to this point.

Can People Find Gambling?


That doesn’t mean that gambling isn’t available to people in Gulf countries. There are many gambling activities available in the UAE and other parts of the Gulf. But these activities aren’t necessarily regulated.

For instance, there are many horse racing tracks around the Gulf. These include the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, and the King Abdulaziz Race Course. People cannot place bets on these tracks. Overseas groups must also seek permission from local Gulf governments to accept wagers in other countries. But people still engage in various clandestine bets at these tracks, even though that is illegal.

People are also finding many online casinos that serve the region. These include places where people can play virtual or live dealer games. Some casinos also accept bets on horse races and other international sporting events. Many people in the Gulf countries will head to these websites to gamble, not to mention some of them have massive bankrolls. The governments in the Gulf don’t have much control over these sites. They also don’t seem to have an interest in stopping those sites.

So What’s the Answer?

Unfortunately, it would be impossible to open casinos in Gulf countries to bring in tourists in the region’s post-pandemic era. Islamic laws would make it hard to make casinos feasible in the area.

But considering how many people in the area are getting their gambling fix in various ways, there’s always the chance casinos could appear in the area in the future. But it would take a great deal of effort and plenty of momentum for this to happen.

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