The foundation stone of a $1 billion man-made Real Madrid-themed resort island was laid here on Thursday in front of the Spanish club’s president Florentino Perez.
Former player Zinedine Zidane, now Madrid’s director of football, also attended the ceremony, along with the ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qassimi.
The 50-hectare resort on Al Marjan Island is due to be completed in January 2015 and aims to attract one million visitors a year.
Perez said Ras Al Khaimah was chosen as the location for the ‘Real Madrid Resort Island’ because it lies equidistant between Europe and the Far East, ‘home to half the estimated 300 million fans’ of the club.
“Football is a fantastic tool with which to bring together diverse nationalities and cultures,” added Perez.
Plans for the resort – which lies a 45 minute-drive from Dubai airport – were initially unveiled in Madrid last week.
It will include a five-star hotel, beachside bungalows and an amusement park with a rollercoaster and hologram show recreating Real Madrid’s goals.
Sports facilities will include training pitches and swimming pools plus a marina for yachting, as well as a 10,000-seat football stadium open on one side to a view of the sea.
Real Madrid ranked top this year in the Money League of richest football clubs published by consultancy Deloitte, with revenues of 480 million euros ($637m) in the 2010-2011 season.
They currently sit six points ahead of fierce rivals Barcelona at the top of the Spanish league.