What are Ras Al Khaimah's competitive advantages?
RAJIV GUPTA When we decided we needed to have a footprint outside of India, we wanted to find the right location. Globally, this is a strategic place to reach both the east and west. When we came to the UAE, we learned, from the experience of other companies operating here, that Ras Al Khaimah is more transparent and more cooperative for start-up businesses. In addition, for us, there were two important factors. The first one being access to various environmental requirements. Second, as a start-up, we need our expenditures to be low. Therefore, we started filtering all the Emirates, and came to the conclusion that Ras Al Khaimah had better conditions for us. If I had to highlight only one benefit, it would be transparency. For any company that wants to become a successful venture, it is important that everything should be transparent between the various authorities with whom they are working. The fact that other armoring companies were already established here helped. Ras Al Khaimah was already known for the armoring business.
TAREK HAMEIDANI Dubai is slightly too expensive, while in other coastal emirates similar to Ras Al Khaimah, the service was not as excellent. That was why we came here in 2009. The way the free zone is managed here is extremely supportive of businesses, and we do not see any reason to move. Many competitors in our industry are based here, which means that many suppliers are also based here. The difference in Ras Al Khaimah is evident in how the free zone operates and how it works with its customers. The costs of doing business and accommodation are lower as well. School, shopping, and housing all make a difference. We have never encountered problems with our customers not wanting to come to Ras Al Khaimah. In this industry, people sign large contracts and, therefore, do not mind flying in when needed.
Where is the armored cars industry headed?
RG The perception of the armory industry is that it is a defense industry. However, we are more interested in protection and protected mobilization. Overall, protection is something everybody will require, especially in the conflict zones where people are traveling and working, such as in the oil and gas business. There is a requirement to provide safe movement and security. This is one thing that will keep coming up, and that is where our market is. There have not been many shifts in the market, but I can say demand has increased. Most regions in the world are looking for this kind of security and protection for their people. We are growing more in the Middle East and Africa, and spreading into Latin America as well.
TH The products are more specific and customers are better educated about what makes an excellent product. Because there was no proper control on the vehicles being produced, a few bad apples slightly tainted the reputation of the UAE and even Ras Al Khaimah, for they were delivering armored vehicles that did not have high quality standards. However, this does not apply to all builders. As a result, now many European customers say they would prefer not to have a vehicle built in the UAE because any one of my workers can open a little shop and start selling it as an armored car. There are no regulations. Amongst the 18 companies in the UAE, only three today produce vehicles that are certified. For us, in order to be able to have a license we need to certify our cars, people, and clients. I suggest that, in order to increase the quality throughout the entire industry, there should be a small committee that comes in and inspects the plant to ensure it meets the requirements. It does not need to be too complicated. These basic things will improve product quality and the image of Ras Al Khaimah as a builder of vehicles.