RAMY JALLAD

Northern Emirates | ECONOMY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ramy Jallad, Group CEO of RAKEZ, about the resilience of RAKEZ in the face of the pandemic.

How was RAKEZ able to display resilience in the face of the pandemic?

We faced several challenges to which we have proved resilient. One was much more aggressive competition, especially from the online channel, unlike before the pandemic. To overcome this, we focused on delivering greater value to our clients, namely more services and incentives to support their business in challenging times. We also swiftly adapted to necessary innovation, and we are fortunate enough to have tremendous talents within our organization, which has allowed us to be quick on our feet and implement new strategies, innovations, and contingency plans. We went heavy on digital transformation, quickly introducing new technology to our processes. There is a consistent high demand from investors due to the comprehensive yet cost-effective packages we recently launched to help them turn uncertainties into opportunities. We also continuously enhance our services and construct new facilities.

What is your perspective on the role RAKEZ will play in the post-pandemic economic recovery?

RAKEZ has always been one of the contributors to Ras Al Khaimah's economy. The Emirate is an ideal business destination in the region. In particular, we focus on attracting businesses from all over the world to set up shop here. We encourage foreign businesses to take advantage of its work, live, and play environment. We do this by launching packages that are not only cost effective, but also supportive of our clients' journey. For instance, we have the RAKEZ BusinessWomen Package, a first-of-its-kind product in the UAE designed to empower women to chase their entrepreneurial dreams, with license, facility, option for zero balance account, and eligibility for UAE residence visa. We have also launched My Business Package, which includes a business license and visa. Meanwhile, the E-commerce Package is packed with a variety of discounts and benefits to support investors in launching an e-commerce business with ease. We also offer Virtual Educational Packages for education professionals who wish to tutor individuals online; SME Packages offering up to 40% discount guaranteed for life; and Make, Manage, Move Your Products, the most cost-effective industrial setup packages in the UAE that target manufacturers, traders, and logistics and supply chain providers. As with the rest of the country, we are also focusing on digital transformation to enhance the ease of doing business. Technology is crucial to the adaptability of any business in today's digitally driven society. We were quick to adapt as we have already been utilizing different digital strategies. We transformed our business setup procedures, allowing investors to register their company online, from submitting applications to issuing the license. All our existing services have also been made available online through RAKEZ Portal 360. We are going all digital and paperless, not only for business continuity but also to provide a seamless journey to our clients.

How would you characterize the potential for RAK to become the next gaming hub for the region?

The MENA region is already home to diverse industries, and e-gaming is among its newest headliners. E-sports or online competitive gaming is at the forefront of this boom. Aside from the Middle East being one of the most tech-savvy regions, it also has a young population hungry for e-sports. The Middle East has a fast-rising online gaming population, and this presents promising opportunities for business and collaboration in the e-gaming arena. Our aim is to be the launch pad for gaming enthusiasts that helps them turn their talent into a thriving business, be it game development, game publishing, streaming, or distribution. In terms of ranking, the UAE is the 35th-largest gaming market in the world in terms of revenue as reported in 2019, and local gamers spend an average of 30 minutes per day on mobile games. The UAE government also backs the development of digital media and digital society. With support from the government, universities in the country are offering programs in gaming to support gamers and the business community. The e-gaming business setup package has been designed to support starting entrepreneurs in the fast-growing gaming value chain such as software and hardware developers, publishers, streaming, and support services providers. The support comes not only with a license, but with the right ecosystem to grow their business. We do this through our coworking hub, which is the ideal platform on which to meet individuals who share their passion. RAKEZ has also introduced its e-gaming business setup package that covers 18 e-gaming core and support service activities, and investors can select up to three activities in their primary license with access to the RAKEZ Compass Coworking Centre that offers open, private, and scalable workstations with the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded professionals.

What are your strategies to help SMEs succeed and attract investment into the SME economy?

We work to provide comprehensive solutions for SMEs. RAKEZ offers wide-ranging license types spanning thousands of activities. We also have SME-friendly facilities, such as coworking spaces, which are low-risk options providing them with an opportunity to test the market. We offer quick and easy setup with a one-stop shop for all requirements: two in Ras Al Khaimah, one in Abu Dhabi, and one office in Dubai, where clients can accomplish everything in one go, from registration and licensing, leasing, and visa issues to a range of support services. Setting up a business is achieved in three easy steps with complete guidance from our expert business development consultants. We tailor our packages according to individual needs. These include customized products targeted at women and aspiring young entrepreneurs. Moreover, we have specialized zones that help businesses thrive with a business zone comprising first-class business centers that cater to the service sector, as well as an academic zone, a space for qualified international educational institutions and service providers, and also the Al Hulaila, Al Hamra, and Al Ghail Industrial Zones for traders and manufacturers.