Unlike the majority of its neighbors, Ras Al Khaimah has negligible deposits of hydrocarbons. Yet what it lacks in oil and gas, the emirate more than makes up for in other industries. The RAK Economic Development Department oversees the emirate's ongoing industrialization and helps share its competitive advantages with potential partners and investors.
With full support from the government, the private sector plays a leading role in the local economy and is characterized by its specialization and success in specific business activities, particularly the industrial field. Major exports include ceramic tiles (RAK Ceramics is the world's largest ceramics producer), medicines, cement, crushed rocks, and fish.
While RAK'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. Its ideal position to service and access markets like the Middle East, Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, and the CIS countries is complimented by geography, comprising a beautiful coastline of sun-kissed sandy beaches, the Al Hajar mountain range (from which high-quality limestone for ceramics come), vast desert plains, and the southern region's green belt. It is no wonder that FDI Magazine rated RAK as the Best Investment Destination in 2009.
GDP figures have been characterized by strong growth in recent years, especially in manufacturing, services, and tourism sectors. This has been accompanied by an increase in foreign trade and per capita income, as well as a rise in the standard of living, growth in education and development of world-class housing and health-care facilities.
Under the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Raas Al Khaimah, the emirate's economy is focusing increasingly more on tourism and industry.
“The ruler of RAK has a clear vision and goal for this emirate. We would like to further expand both the tourism and industrial sectors. Over the past seven years, these sectors have taken big strides here. We have developed many new hotels of very high quality that encompass different environments such as the sea, the desert and the mountains,” says Sheikh Mohammed Bin Kayed Al Qassimi, Vice-President of RAK Economic Development Department.
“There are American, Japanese, Indian, and French factories here. A large amount of foreign owned factories are located in the emirate. On top of this there are joint ventures with locals and government as well. These stories act as solid, practical examples of why businesses should locate here.”
He adds that in spite of the global financial crisis, businesses were still attracted to RAK: three factories have been opened over the past few years, each with a capital of some $200 million. In addition, during the first eight months of 2011, the RAK Investment Authority licensed 800 new companies, while the RAK Free Trade Zone registered 2,033 new companies in 2011, up 17% from the previous year.
The emirate has excellent infrastructure in place – from a well-planned road network, an international airport, and fully equipped seaports to an advanced communications network – while simple business procedures, stability, and solid financial scores from global ratings agencies only serve to further add to RAK's attractiveness for investment.
“When a foreign investor comes to a country, he is looking for stability first of all,” says Hassan Hamdan Al Alkim, Director General of RAK Economic Development Department.
“I think Ras Al Khaimah
, as part of the UAE, and despite the troubled region, the country has proved to be more stable than others. Secondly, he would look for transparency. We are keen to giving the most accurate data. That is why Ras Al Khaimah, now for the third or fourth year in a row, got an "A" from Standard and Poor’s. And thirdly, he would look for simplicity, to make his life easier. In this department, you can find all the stakeholders of the licensing in the ground floor: from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Labor to the Chamber of Commerce. Anyone can issue their license in under ten minutes. It's a true one-stop shop.”