Ras Al Khaimah Government, Saraya Holdings and Arab Bank unveil details of the “Saraya Islands” Project in Ras Al Khaimah

Published December 4th, 2006 - 07:26 GMT

In light of the agreement signed in September 2005 between the Government of Ras Al Khaimah’s Investment & Development Office (IDO), Saraya Holdings and a subsidiary of the Arab Bank, the three shareholders announced the details of the “Saraya Islands” project in Ras Al Khaimah.

The Saraya Islands project will occupy the pristine seven-kilometer Julfar Island, located between the outstanding range of the Hajjar Mountains and the azure sea of the Arabian Gulf.  It will cover an area of over one million square meters.  It seeks to create an iconic representation of Ras Al Khaimah’s seafaring heritage using contemporary technology.

Actively involved in promoting Ras Al Khaimah and in attracting and establishing new ventures in the Emirate, the Investment & Development Office is playing a pivotal role in the Saraya Islands project as a key shareholder.

Through its investment arm in Ras Al Khaimah, Saraya Holdings seeks to create and manage this unique mixed-use resort, as part of its mission to create and manage a series of distinguished 21st century themed and master-planned world-class destinations throughout the Middle East & North Africa region. Saraya's projects are built according to the highest international standards that cater to the needs of local residents, as well as tourists and businessmen in addition to delivering profitable projects to investors and achieving sustainable development to local communities.

The Arab Bank is renowned for its prudent management policies and robust financial strength.  As a direct shareholder, it brings its expertise and wealth of global experience to the project.  The three founding shareholders expressed their confidence and optimism in the project’s success.

In commenting on the project, Dr. Izzat Dajani, Chief Executive of IDO said: “We are extremely grateful to the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, augmented by the vision and strong support of IDO’s Chairman, H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince & Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, which aim at turning Ras Al Khaimah into a promising destination for tourists and residents alike.

Dr. Dajani added that “the Government of Ras Al Khaimah’s objective is to build a diverse economy and to capitalize on the Emirate’s immense potential.  The Saraya Islands project is an important step towards the fulfillment of that objective and represents the shared vision of its founding shareholders.  It will help propel Ras Al Khaimah into a cosmopolitan tourist destination, by offering exceptional lifestyle, tourism and residential products that blend naturally with the area’s landscape and attractions.”

Ali Kolaghassi, Vice Chairman and CEO of Saraya, Senior Advisor to Sheikh Saad El-Din Al-Hariri, Chairman of Saraya, said: “Saraya Islands will become a world-class destination.  In the natural and unique location of Ras Al Khaimah, where mountains and sea meet in astonishing serenity, the project will offer a themed taste of the Arabian seafaring heritage and tradition.  It will afford people of different ages and different interests an unforgettable living, business, leisure and entertainment experience, and impart permanent memories of a heavenly, lavish and serene environment, surrounded by a glorious past and serviced with state-of-the-art luxuries and facilities.”  Saraya's strategy focuses on identifying unique untapped natural sites and transforming them into world-class tourist destinations, in keeping with Saraya's vision of creating luxurious "cities within cities."

Samer Saifi, Regional Head of Private Banking at Arab Bank, said “Arab Bank is quite confident of the project’s success, given its backdrop in a promising Emirate like Ras Al Khaimah.  We will consider taking an active role in various banking activities related to this landmark project from a corporate finance perspective, and by looking into offering financial services to its residential buyers.

The main contractor of Saraya Islands is Saudi Oger, which is known for its extensive global expertise in the construction of complex and technologically advanced projects throughout the Middle East, Africa and Europe, thus ensuring the delivery of the highest quality of construction.

Ras Al Khaimah boasts a heritage of naval explorations and pioneering marine technology.  It was the birthplace of the famed Arab explorer, Ahmed Ibn Majid, often referred to as ‘Lion of the Sea’.  Ibn Majid was the first to use the compass for navigation, and is known to have developed a navigation instrument called ‘Kamal’, which he used to plot the latitude of ships.  Being the master navigators of the Indian Ocean, Ras Al Khaimah’s sailors were sought after by travelers, geographers and colonial powers.

Saraya Islands capitalizes on the site’s main features, including its location between the mountains and the sea, its closeness to Ras Al Khaimah’s international airport, and its proximity to the bustling city of Dubai.  A planned extension of the Emirates Highway will connect the project to the nearby Ras Al Khaimah airport and to Dubai.

The project will encompass exclusive palatial waterfront estates, high-end designer villas, lagoon view townhouses with private piers; waterfront terraced apartments, world class themed hotels, exotic bungalows, a top-of-the-line spa and serviced rental villas.  Other project facilities will include retail shops, restaurants, entertainment outlets, Arabian sailing boats, an amusement/water park, a state-of-the-art sports center, a futuristic planetarium, a cultural center, bicycle and waterfront walking trails, sailing, fishing and navigation facilities, a training institute, six kilometers of sandy beaches, tidal exploratory walkways, bird sanctuaries and car parks.

The project’s master plan envisions the development of four distinct ‘islands’ referred to as ‘al-Boum’, ‘al-Marsa’, ‘al-Sahab’, and ‘al-Wahat’, in addition to the mainland ‘Saraya Village’ center.  All four islands will be interconnected via a series of appropriately scaled, resort-style roads and bridges.  Connecting the mainland and the islands is the Boulevard- a 2.5 km tree-lined, scenic and themed driveway.  This avenue, which connects to the Emirates Highway extension, will terminate at Saraya Village, the most public area at the center of the Saraya islands project, and the gateway to the development.

Saraya Village will serve as the project’s central and transitional hub.  It will offer bus and taxi drop off points, as well as hotel and resort check-in and parking facilities.  Incorporated into the Village will be a series of themed ‘Souqs’, selling authentic versions of the goods that Ras Al-Khaimah’s sailors once traded in, such as dates, incense, pearls, spices, silk, wood, cotton and handicrafts. 

Saraya Islands will be a treat for tourists, who will enjoy its vibrant shopping experience, its wide variety of entertainment and sporting activities, and the exquisite dining and five-star accommodation facilities of its hotels and bungalows. The project commands spectacular sandy beaches, blue seas on all sides, a magnificent mountainous backdrop and ecologically sensitive architecture, making it a beautiful haven of peace and tranquility to nature seekers.

Saraya Holdings will participate in Cityscape 2006 as a gold sponsor of this specialized international event for the second consecutive year.  The 460-square meter Saraya booth will display the Saraya Islands Master Plan and offer visitors the opportunity to reserve their preferred residential units by placing refundable deposits during the exhibition.

The Investment & Development Office, Government of Ras Al Khaimah (IDO)
IDO was established in January 2004 by an Emiri Decree with the mission of identifying new investment opportunities and facilitating the task of prospective investors in their goal of establishing new businesses in Ras Al Khaimah.  IDO showcases the unique features of Ras Al Khaimah to the prospective investor and ensures that a viable business venture is set up efficiently, quickly, and cost effectively.  IDO has become the economic ambassador of Ras Al Khaimah. It is also the corporate finance and advisory arm of the government. IDO streamlines and facilitates ideas and ventures that differentiate Ras Al Khaimah from other Emirates and enhance its investment climate.  IDO was lead manager in the launch of major companies, such as IPO of RAK Properties. It was also behind major initiatives such as RAK Petroleum, RAK Lube Oil Company, EDRAK, and Saraya Islands.  IDO is also active in seeking and executing investment opportunities regionally and internationally, whether through new ventures or through merger & acquisition (M&A) activities.  Information on IDO and its portfolio can be found at www.rakinvest.ae.

Saraya Holdings
Saraya Holdings is a tourism and real estate development company established in 2005.  The majority of the company's shares are owned directly by the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Sheikh Saad Rafic Hariri.  Saraya Holdings seeks to support the economic growth of the countries it invests in by developing projects that maximize shareholder value and contribute to local communities' sustainable development.  Through its investment subsidiaries, Saraya Holdings has invested in the Saraya Aqaba project, which is currently being implemented in Jordan, while three other projects - Saraya Islands (Ras Al Khaimah), Saraya Bandar Jissah (Oman), and Saraya Dead Sea (Jordan) - are at various stages of development.  The said Saraya projects are being established through public/private partnerships in each country.  Saraya selects undiscovered, rich and natural sites and develops them into tourist destinations, implementing its vision of creating luxurious “cities within cities.”  In each location, Saraya’s vision focuses on establishing a group of luxury hotels, retail and entertainment facilities, alongside leisure and sport facilities, superb residential units.  Saraya projects are created according to the highest international standards, and comply with the desires of residents, businessmen and visitors alike.  As part of its mission, Saraya seeks to preserve the natural environment and local cultures, in addition to promoting these cultures. www.sarayaholdings.com

Arab Bank
The Arab Bank Group is one of the oldest and most prominent banking institutions in the region, with total assets exceeding US$30 billion. Incorporated in Amman, Jordan, the Group has a global branch network of more than 400 branches in five continents, with a presence in virtually every Arab country and operations in all the major international financial centers.  In 1930, the late Mr. Abdul Hameed Shoman established the Bank in the Holy City of Jerusalem, with a vision to serve Arab economies and people. Arab Bank Group is engaged in providing a wide variety of financial services to individuals, corporations, government agencies and other international financial institutions. Its services include corporate, retail, private and investment banking.


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