Ras Al Khaimah Overview
On 24 February 1972, Ras Al Khaimah became the last of the seven emirates to join the UAE federation. The former ruler of the emirate, H.H. Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, who had been in power since 1948, was one of the longest reigning monarchs in the world. In October 2010, H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, who had already directed most of the day-to-day political and economic affairs of the emirate, succeeded his father as the ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.
Ras Al Khaimah, or RAK, is the UAE’s most northernmost emirate. Due to its strategic geographical location, it has become a focal point for industry, quarrying, and manufacturing. The government of Ras Al Khaimah encouraged the manufacturing and service industries by creating infrastructure conducive to free trade and free enterprise. RAK Ceramics, Ras Al Khaimah’s flagship company, is the world’s largest manufacturer of ceramic and porcelain tiles and exports to more than 150 countries across 5 continents. It serves as a shining testament to Ras Al Khaimah’s industrial potential.
Since 2003, the government of RAK has invested heavily in education and public utilities, and has pursued an economic diversification policy, promoting industrialization and tourism. In the pursuit of economic diversification, RAK has made tangible progress in its effort to become a top destination for investment. Ras Al Khaimah was ranked first on fDi Magazine’s list of “Cities Most Attractive for Foreign Investment” and sixth on the list of “Top 20 Middle Eastern Cities”.
Today, RAK is estimated to have a population of 250,000. The emirate is 2,478 sq. km with a GDP of nearly AED 16 billion ($4.3 billion). Yearly imports are estimated at nearly AED 4.5 billion ($1.2 billion) with exports and re-exports totalling nearly 10 billion ($2.7 billion) and 3.5 billion ($952 million) respectively.
Incentives for Investors
Licensing and other regulatory procedures were streamlined to facilitate investment. The authorities invested in capital intensive industries with long maturation periods such as mining, extraction, cement, and building materials. The combination of infrastructure development, a favourable regulatory environment, and the industrial inputs and natural resources in RAK, give the emirate a true competitive advantage.
Incentives for companies in Ras Al Khaimah include 100% income and corporate tax exemptions, 100% capital and profit repatriation, 100% ownership in free-zones, no foreign exchange controls, and no restrictions on hiring expatriates. RAK’s gross domestic product has risen from AED 6.6bn ($1.8bn) in 2002 to AED 16bn ($4.4bn) in 2010. This represents growth of over 142% over an 8 year span, an average of over 17% per annum.
Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA)
The leadership of RAK has had the foresight to concentrate on developing the industrial sector. Economic diversification is led by the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority or RAKIA. The mandate of RAKIA is to develop and manage the industrial parks, which include the free zones and industrial zones in the Al Hamra and Al Ghail areas of Ras Al Khaimah.
RAKIA is not only a facility provider, but also offers investment advisory services and equity participation on selected projects. This has resulted in an atmosphere of trust among investors and generated a solid network of opportunities. As a result, within a span of 5 years of its inception, RAKIA has been instrumental and attracted over $3bn in industrial investments alone, powering an unprecedented economic surge that has made Ras Al Khaimah as one of the fastest growing emirates in the UAE.
RAK is rich in limestone, clay, quartz and other minerals. RAK is unique in the GCC in that it has a well-established industrial sector capable of processing industrial inputs. Today RAK is the UAE’s largest cement producer and boasts the GCC’s largest rock quarry.
In the 1980s, RAK Ceramics was founded and has since become the world’s largest ceramics producer, with global production output of 115m square meters per annum accounting for around $1bn in annual global sales. Since then, other advanced manufacturing companies have set up operations in Ras Al Khaimah, including companies producing automotive, chemical, glass, steel, aluminium, manufacturing products and plastics.
Although RAK boasts several well-established industries, there is a continuous effort to further drive growth, development, and ingenuity. Today, there is a concerted effort to develop and promote the automotive industry. Advantageous geographic positioning makes Ras Al Khaimah a very cost effective place to produce goods serving Africa, Asia, and CIS countries.
Ras Al Khaimah is a place where business is encouraged and challenges can be seen as opportunities. With a leadership committed to progress, and economic growth and development, the prospects for the future of this emirate are promising.