Ras Al Khaimah: Land of opportunity for local and foreign investors
For more than 5,000 years Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) has been one of the historically important cities in the Arabian Gulf region, being strategically located at the crossroads of commerce and trade between the east and the west. Its name literally translates to ‘The Top of the Tent’ in Arabic in reference to its northernmost location, although the name also symbolises Ras Al Khaimah’s significant contributions to the social and economic development of the region.
As one of the seven emirates comprising the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ras Al Khaimah has been a key contributor to the socioeconomic development of the country, and has over the years successfully established one of the Middle East’s most dynamic and fastest-growing economies. During the early 1970s, the emirate opened the country’s first cement company, which is now the largest cement producer in the UAE. In the 1980s, RAK Ceramics was established sowing the seeds of what eventually became the world’s largest ceramic tile manufacturer. The emirate is also home to Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries - Julphar, the region’s first pharmaceuticals company.
Under the visionary leadership of H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah and Member of the Supreme Council, Ras Al Khaimah has witnessed a major investment boom during the past seven years, driven by various reforms in government and legal systems that were implemented under Sheikh Saud’s directives. Sheikh Saud is responsible for bringing the World Bank to the emirate to conduct studies on how to make Ras Al Khaimah an investor-friendly and efficient business destination. It is also his idea to consolidate the government’s balance sheet, which has enabled the emirate to receive “A” ratings from S&P and Fitch for the last two years.
One of the most important directives of Sheikh Saud is the establishment in 2005 of the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA), the government institution that now oversees programs to attract local and foreign investments into the emirate. Within a few years of being institutionalised, RAKIA has already generated close to USD 3 billion in investments from all over the world.
RAKIA’s strategy focuses on aggressive diversification into nonoil businesses, capitalising on the emirate’s vast local resources and the strategic advantages of the emirate’s location. Currently there are over 7,500 businesses from several countries that are registered under RAKIA, counting both on-shore and off-shore companies. Up to 66 percent of businesses registered in RAKIA are from Europe, India, USA, Russia, CIS and several Asian countries, while 19 percent are from the rest of the Middle East. Domestic investors account for the remaining 15 percent of businesses.
Incentives for Global Investors
RAKIA steps in as a one-stop-shop for investors, delivering a complete range of investment portfolio and value-added services such as processing of licenses for industrial, commercial, trading, consulting/services and media-related businesses; employment, residence and visit visas; design approvals; and various types of permits. Catering to the distinct requirements of businesses operating in the emirate, RAKIA also develops customised products such as Land for industrial activities, Warehouses/Light Industrial Units, Business towers/office space, commercial centres and various categories of residential accommodation.
To maximise investment potential of the emirate, RAKIA has also introduced a full range of economic incentives for businesses and investors, including Easy issuance of licenses, fewer documentation, Both Free zone & Non Free zone company formations, 100% foreign ownership in the Free Zones, Liberal labour laws, Low operational cost, etc…
RAKIA has emerged as one of the pillars of the emirate’s economic progress, generating multi-billion dollars in annual revenues and providing the strategic directions for Ras Al Khaimah’s socioeconomic development agenda. With RAKIA at the helm, Ras Al Khaimah has reinforced its reputation as a land of opportunity for thousands of local and foreign investors, offering a complete package of business and lifestyle amenities within the framework of a progressive, tolerant and multicultural society.
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