Ras Al Khaimah could be the best-kept business secret in the Middle East. The northernmost of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah boasts a stable and diverse economy supported by easy company set-up solutions, a harmonious lifestyle that appeals to diverse tastes, advanced infrastructure, and excellent transport links to the Middle East, Africa and beyond.
Here are 10 reasons why Ras Al Khaimah should be your No.1 choice for setting up or developing your business…
1. Companies can be 100% foreign owned
Foreign investors can enjoy 100% ownership of companies in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah in certain booming sectors, including industrial, agricultural and service sectors, while owning and controlling all shares in non-free zone companies. This new option for investors covers the 2,954 economic activities.
2. Ras Al Khaimah is ideally located between Asia, Europe and Africa
Just a 45-minute drive from one of the world’s biggest aviation hubs – Dubai International Airport – and strategically located at the modern crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa, Ras Al Khaimah occupies a prime geographic position and provides an abundance of transport options. The emirate is within a four-hour flight time of almost one-third of the world’s population and within eight hours of more than two-thirds of its people. There are five ports in the Emirate including Saqr Port, the largest bulk-handling port in the Middle East, and excellent roads infrastructure connecting Ras Al Khaimah to the rest of the UAE. Ras Al Khaimah International Airport is a growing transit point for both passengers and cargo. It is the overseas hub for Indian aviation giant SpiceJet, a hub for Air Arabia, and has partnerships with a number of Middle Eastern and European airlines. From Ras Al Khaimah, passengers can connect directly to locations that include New Delhi, Moscow, Warsaw, Cairo, Prague and Istanbul, flying on to numerous other cities around the world. With many more destinations in the pipeline, it’s blue skies ahead for Ras Al Khaimah International Airport.
3. There’s an abundance of opportunities
From manufacturing to tourism and numerous sectors in-between, Ras Al Khaimah has established itself as a great base for setting up a business or for expanding commercial operations into new markets. Easy business set-up, low accommodation and labor costs and availability of land all combine with great infrastructure and livability to make the Emirate an ideal business environment. Ras Al Khaimah is an extremely diverse manufacturing hub, including high-tech manufacturing such as at Julphar Pharmaceuticals. Other sectors of significance in the Emirate are mining, commodities, real estate development and finance, with major players already operating here, such as Stevin Rock and RAK Rock, RAKGAS, RAK Petroleum and RAKBANK.
4. Diversity is Ras Al Khaimah’s key to success
Diversifying the Emirate’s economy away from oil has been at the heart of its economic success story. Ras Al Khaimah sought to benefit from its vast natural resources and set up a host of companies and leading brands, in addition to building factories and ports, and providing constant support and top-quality shipping services.
Notable among these facilities is Saqr Port – the biggest bulk-handling port in the Middle East. RAK Ceramics is one of the major global players in its field, while Stevin Rock and RAK Rock have a production capacity of over 80 million tons of raw materials per year.
The Emirate has set solid foundations for a diverse industrial sector that can meet market demand and provide various products. Notable among these companies is Julphar, which has grown to become one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers in the Middle East and Africa. The company has recently started manufacturing the Hayat-Vax vaccine against COVID-19 and is expecting to produce 24 million boxes on the vaccine by the end of 2021.
Today, Ras Al Khaimah’s composition of industries is so diverse that no single sector contributes more than 30% to the Emirate’s GDP.
5. You’ll find access to sector-specific free zones
Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) is a powerhouse business and industrial hub that is already home to more than 15,000 companies representing 100 countries across 50 sectors. Its goal is to ensure straightforward business set-up and provide customizable solutions to investors. As such, it operates state-of-the-art industrial areas and business parks across the Emirate. Each specialized zone allows for services to be tailored to individual business requirements, with a multitude of business license solutions available through RAKEZ’s dedicated customer service team. In addition to RAKEZ’s many set-up options, RAK Ports has developed the Saqr Port / Free Zone area that allows for direct waterside access for those businesses that need quick and reliable access to port facilities. This free zone is the closest in the UAE to the Strait of Hormuz, making it strategically located for businesses with an interest in maritime transportation and logistics.
6. Doing business is easy and cost-effective
One of the major advantages of doing business in Ras Al Khaimah is the relative ease and low cost of getting things done. Through entities such as RAKEZ, Ras Al Khaimah Department of Economic Development and RAK Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as other investment drivers such as Marjan, setting up a business in Ras Al Khaimah is a straightforward process and one that can be completed in as few as three steps. In fact, it is estimated that the cost of setting up and running a business in Ras Al Khaimah, as well as the cost of living, healthcare and education, can be up to 50% cheaper than in neighboring areas, depending upon a number of factors such as sector and neighborhood. Validating Ras Al Khaimah’s growing status as an investment hub is the World Bank’s Doing Business report, which ranked the Emirate 30th out of 190 sub-national economies in 2019 for ease of doing business.
7. Its commitment to digital services facilitates smooth commerce
Ras Al Khaimah’s Electronic Government Authority is transforming government services through digitalization. At present, more than 700 services from various Ras Al Khaimah Government departments are available online through rak.ae with many business applications having been transitioned into this easy-to-use format. In addition, the mRAK app now offers over 150 services available to businesses and the general public.
8. It offers stability in a safe and secure environment
Ras Al Khaimah has a track record of stable policymaking and social cohesion. The Emirate is rated in the ‘A’ range by both Fitch and S&P ratings agencies. In addition, the Emirate has an extremely low crime rate, with its residents enjoying a high sense of security. It has a safety index rating from Numbeo of 93.8 out of 100, indicating a very safe environment, as well as an average emergency response time of 7 minutes and 43 seconds.
9. Its harmonious blend of nationalities & cultures helps business to thrive
Ras Al Khaimah is a diverse and tolerant society that is home to numerous cultures and religions, with communities of expatriates from all corners of the world setting up home in the Emirate and raising their next generations in an open and accepting environment. It has many places of worship for different faiths, with an array of ceremonies and festivals celebrated throughout the year, and this only adds to the great environment for businesses of all descriptions to thrive.
10. It’s a great place to live, work and play!
Ras Al Khaimah is a truly magical place to live! From majestic mountains including Jebel Jais – the UAE’s highest peak at 1,934 meters, to 64 km of pristine white beaches and stunning terracotta deserts, it’s a paradise for those who enjoy the great outdoors. There are wonderful residential communities in which to put down roots, including Mina Al Arab and Al Hamra Village, developments which offer all the trappings of a big city but without the high cost or stress. A variety of educational curriculums are catered for across the Emirate’s schools, including British, United States, Indian and International Baccalaureate, and there are several world-class universities, including the American University of Ras Al Khaimah and Ras Al Khaimah Medical & Health Sciences University. Healthcare needs are met at the many advanced hospitals and clinics across the Emirate, such as the state-of-the-art RAK Hospital. And let’s not forget the year-round sunshine, which does wonders for those Vitamin D levels!
Whichever way you look at it, Ras Al Khaimah ticks an enviable number of business boxes, with its stable and expanding economy, strategic location, great transport links across the region and easy to set up, customizable business solutions. At a holistic lifestyle level it offers an unbeatable environment to make a home, with educational, healthcare and entertainment facilities that are second to none.
Interested? Find out more at Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ), Ras Al Khaimah Department of Economic Development and Ras Al Khaimah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Or check out Visit Ras Al Khaimah for things to do in the Emirate.