Special Report: Ras Al Khaimah ….UAE
Ras Al Khaimah, the fourth-largest emirate in the UAE, today boasts a rapidly growing economy, thanks to the ambitious process of economic diversification adopted by the government that primarily focuses industry, trade and commerce, tourism and real estate. While Ras Al Khaimah’s business-friendly policies have ensured a brisk increase in foreign direct investments, it has also helped the emirate steadily increase its global appeal as a superior choice destination for business and leisure.
The natural topography of Ras Al Khaimah which consists of 65km of sun-kissed sandy beaches, the Al Hajar Mountain range, the vast desert plains in the central region and the green belt in the southern region, have added to the success of Ras Al Khaimah as a destination of choice.
Ras Al Khaimah has been witnessing impressive economic growth in the past few years under the visionary leadership of HH Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, the Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.
In recent years, Ras Al Khaimah has witnessed an increase in GDP figures with growth in manufacturing, services, and tourism sectors, along with the increase in foreign trade and per capita income, a rise in the standard of living, growth in education, development in world-class housing and healthcare facilities among other positive developments that point towards the all round socio–economic prosperity of Ras Al Khaimah. Ras Al Khaimah was recently rated the best investment destination by the FDI magazine.
The RAK Government encourages development through the private sector and believes that the role of the government is primarily to create an optimum environment for enterprises, providing enabling infrastructures, utilities and services and making sure that the government is an effective partner- supporting and empowering the private sector.
Ras Al Khaimah has negligible deposits of hydrocarbons, unlike some of the other emirates or countries in the GCC. As a result, it has sought to diversify its economy over the course of recent decades by opening up to foreign investors and industries. The aim was to make the best use of the emirate’s strategic positioning by improving its infrastructure and creating the right incentives and liberal business environment to attract major industrial enterprises from around the world.
Although the drive to attract foreign companies has been a recent development, RAK has long been one of the industrial centres of the UAE. The industrial sector has been dominated by the three main industries of cement, ceramics and pharmaceuticals. The sector has diversified in the recent years especially since the creation of free zones as well as partnerships between government and foreign investors.
Ras Al Khaimah has a natural advantage when it comes to the production of cement as the Al Hajar mountain range holds vast supplies of high quality limestone, which is a key raw material for cement manufacturing. The emirate is also rich in other raw materials such as clay, quartz and other minerals.
The pharmaceutical industry in RAK is about 30 years old and has been one of the key focus areas of government plans for a number of years. The industry in RAK is dominated by the Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries, known as Julphar. The company has grown into a pharmaceuticals giant by Middle East standards and now exports to over 80 countries. Julphar is the biggest pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the UAE.
What RAK lacks in oil is somewhat compensated for by its natural mineral water resources. RAK is the origin of Masafi mineral water brand, the region’s leading mineral water brand, with its source lying in several rich underground springs in the mountainous city of Masafi. Masafi Water has developed into an international brand which exports bottled water and fruit juices to more than 20 countries.
RAK Ceramics is the single largest, state-of-the-art, ceramic tile manufacturer in the world with its twelve plants spread across the UAE, India, Bangladesh, Sudan, Iran and China, producing over one hundred million sq m of tiles and 3 million pieces of sanitary ware annually, exporting to 135 countries. The UAE operation is the largest single-location ceramic manufacturing facility in the world with more than 6,000 active models in the ceramic and porcelain tiles segment, and an exclusive range of more than 600 active models of sanitary ware to offer with a wide choice in designer bathroom sets, wash basins, bathtubs and related items. RAK Ceramics has diversified horizontally by forming several joint ventures including Kludi RAK LLC, RAK Porcelain LLC, Laticrete RAK LLC and many more in Ras Al Khaimah.
RAK is well connected to most of the neighbouring countries by air, sea and roads The emirate has an excellent road network making overland trans-shipment throughout the Middle East a realistic possibility. With an excellent telecom system RAK airport is one of the six international airports in the country, and Saqr Port in RAK is one of the largest bulk-handling ports in the region, and it also has additional container-handling facilities.
The Government of Ras Al Khaimah’s constant endeavour to enhance infrastructure facilities across the emirate has been a major factor in attracting major foreign investments to Ras Al Khaimah. With a well-planned road network, an international airport, fully equipped seaports, and advanced communications network, Ras Al Khaimah is well-positioned for rapid socio-economic growth.