Ras Al Khaimah

About Ras Al Khaimah

The northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, occupies 1,686 square km of land by the Arabian Gulf. At the height of a world economic crunch, Ras Al Khaimah witnessed a 9% growth in GDP in 2009, with the Financial Times awarding the title of "Most attractive investment destination in the Middle East for FDI" for that year. With the solid upturn in the UAE's economy over the last two years, this attractiveness has only become more pronounced.

Demographics

The population of Ras Al Khaimah counts 263,217 inhabitants.

Dubai

Ras Al Khaimah Economic Development

The emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has experienced an impressive economic growth in recent years, with a 17% increase in its annual GDP, making it a very attractive destination for investors worldwide. Thanks to the ambitious process of economic diversification adopted by the government, in 2011, Standard & Poor's affirmed RAK's A/A-1 sovereign credit rating.

Favourably located on the northernmost tip of the UAE, Ras al Khaimah (RAK) has been a vital trading post for more than 5,000 years. In the early 18th century, the powerful maritime Qawasim clan established itself there. Barely 100 years later, aware of the threat being posed to their ships, a British naval force attacked and occupied RAK. Independence was not gained until 1972. Then, under the leadership of Sheikh Saqr bin Muhammad al-Qasimi, the country began to reassess its position.

The UAE Investment Map talks to His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi,
Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah and Member of the UAE Supreme Council
 

The United Arab Emirates was officially formed in 1971 under the leadership and vision of H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Forty years on, the UAE can proudly pronounce itself as a country with an ever-renewed spirit and ever-widening base of opportunities with an emphasis on excellence. Your Highness, kindly provide our international readers with an introduction to the UAE and what you would consider the most important achievements in your country's history.

The UAE is a new country that has seen remarkable and rapid economic and social development over the course of its first 40 years. Beginning under the wise leadership of HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan and continuing today under the leadership of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan there has been enormouns investment into transforming the UAE into a diversified knowledge based economy. The UAE has achieved universal enrolment in primary and secondary education, it has established a first class federal university system and it has invested in sending many of its citizens abroad to obtain post-graduate degrees at the best universities in the world. In health the UAE has significantly reduced infant mortality and dramatically improved maternal health. There has also been huge investment in public hospitals and clinics across the UAE as well as a recent focus on preventative health care. In the economy, while still deriving large amounts from oil revenues, the UAE has been steadily diversifying its income streams through investment in semi-conductors, clean energy, tourism and by making the UAE an attractive business destination for manufacturing and industry. The role of women in the governance of UAE has also been actively promoted by the rulers of all seven Emirates with women serving in the Cabinet, on the Federal National Council and as professors at the universities. In short the UAE is committed to improving the lives of its people and of those who choose to call the UAE home. It is safe, prosperous and forward thinking and dedicated to preserving its own identity while embracing the best that the world has to offer.

Ras Al Khaimah has had some very impressive economic growth with 17% GDP growth per annum, compared to 3-4% in UAE. GDP in fact grew from 1.8 billion in 2002 to 4.4 billion in 2010, which no doubt helped its award by the Financial Times as "the most cost efficient FDI destination" in 2007. What is your analysis on how Ras Al Khaimah's local economy has changed in recent years and what would you consider the main pillars of Ras Al Khaimah's economic success?

Ras Al Khaimah's economy has undergone complete transformation in recent years. Its growth and success are underpinned by a philosophy of governance, transparency, and fiscal prudence, in a bid to stimulate foreign and domestic investment. It has become established as a solid business ground and encouraged regional and international investors to explore development and investment opportunities in various areas such as tourism and industry.

Tourism, in particular, has been identified as a key area for growth in the economy and plays a major role in our strategy for the development of our emirate. With many historical attractions, and a combination of pristine beaches, authentic desert landscape and mountains, the emirate holds a unique position among the seven emirates. 2011 was a particularly strong year for Ras Al Khaimah's tourism market. Data from the emirate's Tourism Development Authority show as many as 835,200 holiday-makers visited the emirate during the twelve-month period, marking an increase of 40 percent upon the year before. Clear strategic goals and targets have been set to increase the total number of annual visitors to Ras Al Khaimah to 1.2 million by 2013 and government investment in the Tourism sector aims to increase the number of hotel rooms to 10,000 by the year 2016, compared to just 2,500 hotel rooms in 2010.

Blessed with a variety of natural resources, RAK is also considered something of a hub for industry in the UAE. The emirate has created successful industrial icons like RAK Ceramics and Julphar Pharmaceuticals and the Union Cement Company across the industrial and manufacturing field. These have recorded robust growth despite the challenges of the global financial downturn that has faced the region recently.

The Ras Al Khaimah Ports Network is well-placed for the development of the regional maritime industry. RAK Maritime City, the latest addition to this advanced ports network, has been designed to be a free zone maritime industrial park for a variety of industrial and maritime focused businesses, while Saqr Port is one of the largest bulk commodity ports in the Middle East. Fast, efficient cargo handling and reliable distribution are the key elements to Saqr Port's reputation for quality.

The stability and growth of Ras Al Khaimah's economy are reflected in the credit ratings and feedback from the major international financial analysts' and global rating agencies. Fitch affirmed Ras Al Khaimah's rating at ‘A', "underpinned by a "modest debt burden, steady economic progress and a focused development strategy."

"Recent ventures have met with impressive success. New hotels enjoy solid occupancy levels, with tourists up 40% in 2011 and forecast to exceed one million this year, a fivefold increase since 2007."

Standard & Poors also awarded the emirate an ‘A', "based on continued growth and debt reduction."

"With the increase in tourism, we estimate that Ras Al Khaimah's real GDP growth is 6% in 2011 and will remain above 5% over the forecast period."