Abdulfattah Sharaf, CEO of HSBC UAE and Dr. Khater Massaad, CEO, RAKIA
Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA), a major provider of investment opportunities and one-stop solutions in its free zones, industrial parks and offshore facilities as well as in real estate developments and other ventures, has signed today (January 24, 2011) a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with HSBC, one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world, which will open a complete range of banking and financial services to companies operating in Ras Al Khaimah.
Dr. Khater Massaad, CEO, RAKIA, said: "This is a breakthrough partnership that manifests the continuing success of RAKIA in attracting major business enterprises and investors to Ras Al Khaimah. We believe that our partnership with HSBC will help open more business opportunities in the emirate for global investors that are planning to expand their presence in the Middle East by establishing a manufacturing or operations base in Ras Al Khaimah. This is certainly another value-added incentive for RAKIA's clients that will further enhance the reputation of Ras Al Khaimah as one of the Middle East's most conducive investment destinations."
Abdulfattah Sharaf, CEO of HSBC UAE, added: "We have seen tremendous growth from Ras al Khaimah in the past year, as it continues to establish a respected presence as an investment hotspot. We hope that this partnership will stimulate further socioeconomic growth and development, as we build on our strong working relationship to find innovative ways to help grow our customers’ businesses.”
A recent survey by HSBC demonstrated that whilst 47 per cent of UAE small and medium businesses are currently engaged in international business activities, this number is set to rise to 58 per cent by 2013. Free Zones continue to offer attractive services and logistical support for companies looking to expand their cross border business, and offer a natural home for SMEs interested in establishing a base in the Emirates.
RAKIA has been witnessing a steady increase in the number of business licences issued over the recent years. In 2010 it issued 1,108 licences, improving by 27 per cent from 2009 and 62 per cent compared to 2008. There are now 3,679 business licences issued by RAKIA since 2006, broken into 1,042 consulting/service companies, 1,028 trading/general trading businesses, 659 commercial companies, 628 industrial firms and 322 media businesses. RAKIA has also reported a 190 per cent increase in the total area of land leased, reaching over 1 million square meters in 2010 from just 353,046 square metres in 2009.
Further, the industrial sector scored the biggest gains in 2010 with a 65 per cent increase in industrial licences compared to 2009. In total, there were 93 industrial licences issued last year, along with 85 commercial licences, 370 consulting/service licences, 494 trading/general trading licences and 66 media licences.
With regard to the geographic distribution of investors, Indian investors dominate with 27 per cent of the total number of businesses/companies registered with RAKIA followed by investors from the Middle East with 19 per cent and Europe with 19 per cent. Investors from the UAE account for 15 per cent of the business licenses issued, 9 per cent are from the rest of Asia, 3 per cent are from the USA and 2 per cent are from Russia and the CIS. RAKIA is increasingly focusing its attention on investors from key markets such as Europe and India. In this regard it will continue with its plan of organising and participating in various investment-related conferences, seminars and events.
The terms of the agreement cover a range of activities, designed to offer the best of HSBC’s wide geographic footprint and international expertise to RAKIA’s customers. RAKIA, for its part, will recommend HSBC as a potential finance services provider to its clients, including those that are seeking financing for projects within the free zone. The two parties have also agreed to organising joint seminars and workshops, in the UAE and in overseas locations where HSBC operates and ensuring local support from HSBC offices for the RAKIA team on their international road shows.
Since its establishment in 2005, RAKIA has become one of the pillars of the emirate's economic progress, attracting investors from all over the world through Free Zone and Non-Free Zone facilities of RAKIA's Industrial Zone and Free Zone in Al Hamra, and the Industrial Park in Al Ghail.