Ras al-Khaimah (RAK)

For H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, or simply RAK, this title is not enough. His Highness wants to raise RAK to the top of the Middle Eastern economic, tourism and industry rankings. RAK’s GDP has grown by more than 50 percent over the last four years and the fast growing emirate, riding a wave of massive inward investment, is expected to clock an annual growth rate of over 15 percent in the next few years.

But for H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, or simply RAK, this title is not enough.

His Highness wants to raise RAK to the top of the Middle Eastern economic, tourism and industry rankings.

RAK’s GDP has grown by more than 50 percent over the last four years and the fast growing emirate, riding a wave of massive inward investment, is expected to clock an annual growth rate of over 15 percent in the next few years.

Marjan Island

Al Hamra Village

“We are concentrating on developing tourist attraction. We are creating many projects for that such as Marjan Island, Al Hamra Village, Saraya Island, and we develop our mountains to become another Lebanon for the Gulf”, says HH Sheikh Saud.

RAK Petroleum – Offshore Oil Platform

The emirate benefited likewise from high oil prices in 2008, as Alain Duport, General Manager of RAK Petroleum, states: “Of course, the current prices today are triggering a lot of investment to increase the output. It means that our industry is completely overheating, I would say.”

According to Duport well-organized cooperation between the emirates is key in order to maximize output for the whole UAE: “Currently, you may be aware, there is a big gas development project in Abu Dhabi which is several billion dollars.

We think that investments now will be made to fulfill the gas needs for the country.” RAK Petroleum is also operational in neighboring Oman.

Duport: “RAKc ontinues to share exploration assets in Oman with Indago, including Block 31 Jebel Hafit, a 104 square kilometer mountain area estimated to hold one billion barrels of oil equivalent to the Omani side.”

RAK’s history is awesome: due to its strategic location close to the Straits of Hormuz, at the crossroads of Iran and Oman, the big powers in history have always been keen on setting up their own ports and fortresses at the RAK’s magnificent coast.

In 1809, RAK lost its fleet in a war against Great Britain and Oman, but a non-aggression pact was signed between the British and the Sheikhs in 1820 to last 150 years. Shortly after the pact expired, the United Arab Emirates was founded in 1971.

RAK’s surface area is 1,684 square kilometres, which is a third of the size of Dubai and only 2.2 percent of the UAE. Around 250,000 people live in RAK, which is equal to the total population of the Swiss UN-City Geneva.

More than a weekend resort

Ras Al Khaimah Folk Music

Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAKFTZ)
Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAKFTZ)

Oussama El-Omari
Oussama El-Omari

Today, RAK has got several advantages to offer, which the other six emirates of the United Arab Emirates do not have: RAK’s capital and its port, which is the closest to transport ships entering the Persian Gulf. The country is rich in natural resources, among them iron, copper, aluminium and chrome.

RAK’s soil is more fertile than the rest of the UAE making a significant amount of agriculture possible. Heavy rains in the mountains guarantee sufficient water supply for crops and vegetables.

Last but not least, innovation, encouraged by the government, led to the formation of Gulf Pharmaceutical which is today the second biggest pharmaceutical producer in the Gulf region.

It is also worth mentioning RAK Ceramics, a producer of building materials, which is listed at the Dubai Financial Market. The RAK government has taken a lot of steps to make the emirate a destination for investment.

By creating the Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAKFTZ) in May 2000, the emirate attracted leading firms from both the Middle East and Europe. According to RAK FTZ CEO, Oussama El-Omari, there are over 4,000 companies operating in the zone.

Entities licensed in the RAK FTZ do not need a local as a major shareholder. Instead, they can keep the firm’s capital in their own hands and are even allowed to repatriate 100 percent of their profits to their countries of origin.

A tax holiday for the next 50 years is guaranteed as well. But as a commitment to corporate social responsibility, employing Emiratis became common practice in RAK FTZ, as Oussama El-Omari underlines: “Our ratio in employing nationals is past 40 percent which is very unusual and very aggressive.

HH Sheikh Saud sets the target: “We are trying to create in RAK a place for the talents of the globe.”
Access to the world

RAK Airways
RAK Airways

As a logical expansion, Sheikh Saud was eager to enlarge the main port Mina Saqr and to end its dependance on airports in Sharjah and Dubai.

First, the ruling family invested US$ 1 billion in the expansion of Mina Saqr, which already consists of eight deep-water berths. But nowadays, a port is not enough to gain access to the world.

So, Sheikh Saud privatized RAK International Airport in 2006. The civil airport, situated about 45 minutes from Dubai by Emirates Highway, has emerged as a destination of international airline, such as the German charter company TUI from Dusseldorf, which flies three times a week to RAK.

The only problem faced was the postponement several times of the launch of a newly created RAK Airlines. The new carrier could eventually start with two Boeing 757-200 aircraft. Four additional Boeing 737 planes are on order.

A new financial city
RAK Financial City
RAK Financial City

Branch of RAK Bank

What would be a rising North Star in the Middle East, if it did not have its own financial centre? Dubai has the Dubai International Financial Centre; Manama opened the Bahrain Financial Harbour in 2006; Doha tries to attract banks, capital and heads with the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC); and Riyadh aims to create another “Wall Street of the Middle East”, with the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD).

So where is RAK in all this?

Sheikh Saud once again proved that he wants to turn all his ideas into reality. His Wall Street is currently under construction and will be called RAK Financial City. The development is the hub of RAK Offshore project currently under development by the RAK Investment Authority, RAKIA.

Ras Al Khaimah Financial City will be a vibrant and dynamic urban space complimented by nature allowing the centre to also act as a major tourist attraction. The 12 futuristic skyscrapers only exits as models (as of yet), but they shall soon rival offshore financial hubs such as the Bahamas, the Cayman islands or the Principality of Liechtenstein (the latter hub suffered heavy losses recently since the German tax authorities started hunting domestic tax evaders who were hiding money at banks in the tiny principality).

Asked how he does imagine Ras al Khaimah in ten years, H.E. Sheikh Omar bin Saqr Al Qassimi, Chairman of RAK Bank, answers: “It will be a different place because we are growing in many fields: tourism, industry, and other services.”

And HH Sheikh Saqr puts his view in visionary words: “RAK will be a place where people are not dreaming their work but are working their dreams.” There is no doubt that “The Top of the tent” will be seen from far in the near future.

Rakeen – a name to count on

Al Marjan Island
Al Marjan Island

Bab Al Bahr
Bab Al Bahr

Tourism at the Arabian Gulf is not only successful in Dubai. The tiny emirate of Ras Al Khaima, or RAK, is attracting travellers and lovers of the Orient, too. According to RAK Tourism manager Hillary McCormack, in 2007 around 215’00 tourists visited the “The Top of the Tent”, as you can translate the Arabic name Ras Al Khaima into English.

Under the visionary leadership of Crown Prince His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Quasimi, the most northern emirate of the seven emirates forming the United Arab Emirates is gently transforming itself into a holiday’s paradise. Thanks to RAK Tourism, by praising the emirate and its 250’000 inhabitants (compared to 1.5 million in Dubai) as a quiet hub of peaceful mountains and sandy beaches, but also thanks to Rakeen, the state-owned development company which has assets of more than one billion dollars.

A couple of years ago, Rakeen started with the construction of some breath-taking real estate projects. Once finished, they shall be magnificent in size and unique in their shapes. Take a look on the artist’s impression of Al Marjan Island. The man-made island in the shape of combined half-circles will host endless rows of apartments and villas with a wonderful view on the Arab Gulf.

All property can be acquired on a 100 percent freehold basis. That means, that foreigners will be the sole owners of what they buy, tax-free, of course. On Al Marjan, a five star luxury hotel is planned in the centre of Bab Al Bahr (Door to the sea), surrounded by green palms and sprinkling waterfalls.

Dana Island is a genuine design that endures excellent natural water quality, extending 7 kms into the sea with pearl white sandy beaches . Form a helicopter view, Dana has the shape of an ever growing tree with lovely moving leaves.

“RAK occupies a time zone that allows it to connect markets like the Far East and the US” says Rakeen Executive Chairman Dr. Khatter Massaad. “In order to leverage this advantage, it is develo ping a world class infrastructure, air and port facilities, making it the most well-connected hub in the region.”

Apart from spending quality time in salt water, RAK will also offer the RAK Convention Centre. The computer drafts look like space centers from another universe. Adjacent to the centre, there will be RAK Financial City.

The new Manhattan of the Middle East is planned as an offshore hub for the future. The skyscrapers standing in a concave row in RAK Financial City are futuristic and will cost a total of over US$ 8 billion.

Dana Island
Dana Island
Gateway City
Gateway City

Rakeen has even expanded beyond the Arabian Gulf to Iran and Georgia where it is building Isfahan City Centre (Iran’s famous ancient city) and villa areas in the capital Tbilisi, respectively. If you want to realize a dream, you need money but in RAK, if you have money and a dream, you need Rakeen.

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