RAK investment policy leads to significant economic growth
Compelling pro-business policies and government efficiency have catapulted Ras al Khaimah, one of the seven monarchies that make up theUnited Arab Emirates, into rapid growth over recent years. The real-world business experience of the emirate’s leadership is the key factor in its success at creating a highly attractive investment and industrialization climate.
Before he was named ruler of Ras al Khaimah and member of the Supreme Council of the U.A.E. in 2010, Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr al Qasimi added business and entrepreneurship to his official duties as crown prince. The Sheikh played a key role in the growth of the local RAK Ceramics factory, which has now become the world’s largest manufacturer of ceramic and porcelain tiles, with annual sales of $1 Billion.
In addition to the hands-on business management experience that RAK Ceramics gave the Sheikh, the process of opening and running the firm’s numerous overseas projects and factories in China, Bangladesh etc. also provided a unique insight into the needs and viewpoint of a foreign investor considering entrance into a new country.
This intuitive understanding is something that few modern politicians have, and it has made Sheikh Saud a fervent devotee of keeping business and investment procedures as simple and efficient as possible.
In order to realize his pro-business vision, Sheikh Qasimi recruited Dr. Khater Massaad, the CEO of RAK Ceramics, to run the RAK Investment Authority which was set up in 2005. A highly experienced manager (and a PhD in Geophysics), Dr. Massaad has spearheaded a drive to provide businesses with extremely attractive conditions, including offshore registrations, fast setup, logistics infrastructures, etc.
Building on its central location, the emirate makes investors an offer they literally cannot refuse: immediate setup, low costs, single window clearance for all licenses, zero taxation, and free zones with no restrictions on employees or on capital repatriation, to name a few.
To this can be added a government that is at all levels pro-business, anti-bureaucracy, and fast-reacting. Giles Feiler, Middle East Director for the Bank of Georgia, attended the Global Arab Business Meeting in Ras al Khaimah this month, and was very impressed by its policies when he saw them in action: “they mean business”, he said, noting that throughout the Middle East he has never encountered the efficiency and business-minded policies that he saw in Ras al Khaimah.
“Bureaucracy here is at a minimum that Western governments can only wish to emulate. There is a genuine understanding for the needs of foreign investors, and the system is functioning very efficiently in providing compelling responses to these needs” he added.
Sheikh Saud’s vision as he builds a diverse economy with sustainable growth has drawn hundreds of prominent businessmen from the Middle East, Europe andAsiato attend the Global Arab Business Meeting this month.
With its unique combination of natural assets and a government dedicated to hassle-free procedures and fast response, the emirate has not only maintained its impressive growth rate over the past seven years, but is set to accelerate further, multiplying the number of industrial parks and branching out into additional offshore areas of activity. Ras al Khaimah’s economy grew 6% last year, and is forecast to grow 8.4% in the current year. The number of new companies registering in the emirate grew 17% in the past year, as companies rush in to Ras al Khaimah.