What types of industry would you like to see come to Ras Al Khaimah?
AL QASIMI: We would like to see more capital intensive, technologically advanced industries. But the growth of industry cannot be done in one step, so it has to be evolutionary by which we are able to upgrade our tenant mix. We have established a track record for success in Ras Al Khaimah; many companies have come and succeeded here. There is no simple formula to our success, there is no single factor, it is multi-factored. The UAE is a tax haven, there are competitive rates, excellent infrastructure – ports, airports, containers, and a wonderful environment for attracting talent – we have a huge pool and investors have 100% liberty to bring in whomever they want. At the same time, as an investor, you will be surrounded by very successful companies. If we look around us, the growth in this region, and the proximity to 2bn people, we expect a high level of growth in the coming 10 years. Africa, which is witnessing dramatic changes, is next door. India is next door and has made great progress in the past 15 years. This is the new center.
What is your future vision for economic development?
AL QASIMI: The Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) has managed to attract quite a number of industries to Ras Al Khaimah, mainly in the Al Hamra and Al Ghail industrial parks. Today they are a testament of that success. We would like to emphasize the same strategy of bringing more investors to Ras Al Khaimah who will make our economic development even more successful. My belief is that governments can make all the difference in allowing the business community to develop or go away entirely. RAK Maritime City is like Al Ghail Industrial Park, but it is on the water, so it appeals to those tenants who are in need of access to water. At the same time this offers complementary opportunities to the already existing industrial parks. This is what we are trying to create: a kind of synergy that allows our economic progress to happen at a faster rate. Over the past 40 years our whole country has witnessed transformational changes. Our men and women have the best education. We need to get our young people more exposed to the world and to be armed with knowledge. They could be the vehicles of change that we aspire to. They become the leaders and entrepreneurs that are our best bet to success. My hope is that those young men and women will be the asset we are banking on. They are the ones that will make Ras Al Khaimah unique in this federation and successful in its economic development.
If Abu Dhabi is the political capital of the UAE, and Dubai is the financial capital, what role do you see Ras Al Khamiah playing?
AL QASIMI: I would like Ras Al Khaimah to be a hub for tourism as it has a lot of history, beautiful beaches, lovely sand dunes, and magnificent mountains rich in archaeology. I would also like to see Ras Al Khaimah the hub of industry. We have brands that have proven themselves very successful; I would like to see more of those brands come and flourish in Ras Al Khaimah.
In what ways are we seeing federal unity in the UAE today?
AL QASIMI: Rigid planning has been proven not to work. 100% planning does not work; we live in a dynamic world. That is where the great success of the emirates has come from, from the diversity and the ability to choose, and the ability to find strength in diversity. The federal government is now investing in education and investing in infrastructure to help the whole federation to grow.
If we look around us, the growth in this region, and the proximity to 2bn people, we expect a high level of growth in the coming 10 years. Africa, which is witnessing dramatic changes, is next door. India is next door and has made great progress in the past 15 years. This is the new center.