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Ras Al Khaimah 2017 | ECONOMY & FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to HH Sheikh Ahmad bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of the RAK Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) & RAKIA, on the establishment of the free zone, the benefits of operating in the zone, and attracting international clients.

HH Sheikh Ahmad bin Saqr Al Qasimi
BIOGRAPHY
HH Sheikh Ahmad bin Saqr Al Qasimi, a member of the ruling family of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, leads the corporate activities of RAK FTZ and Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) as the Chairman of both organizations. He oversees the development of investments at the RAK FTZ and RAKIA, ensuring that they have a positive impact on the Emirate’s economy. Under HH Sheikh Ahmad’s guidance, the free zones have embarked on a new success strategy. They have adopted a growth plan that focuses on further diversification of their products and services portfolio, ensuring that steady growth rates are maintained.

What characterizes RAK FTZ?

RAK FTZ is one of the fastest-growing free zones in the UAE. It is characterized by cost-effective and flexible business solutions that perfectly suit the needs of different investors. RAK FTZ was established by an Emiri decree in 2000 with a mandate to provide custom-made business solutions to aspiring entrepreneurs and expanding international companies. Currently, we are the proud investment destination for more than 8,600 international investors from over 100 countries and over 50 industry sectors. We offer our clients a full range of incentives, which include a stable and tax-free business environment, ready-made facilities, award-winning client support services, fast-track issuance of visas and licenses, as well as quick and easy business set-up. RAK FTZ is a business-friendly environment that presents immense growth opportunities across its four free zone parks, which include the Business Park, Industrial Park, Technology Park, and RAK Academic Zone. Moreover, RAK FTZ provides the same advantages as other free zones such as zero taxes, 100% ownership, no restrictions on capital and repatriation profits, and freedom from customs duty. What sets us apart from other free zones, however, is that we offer all of these at an economical cost. RAK FTZ also uniquely allows the construction of labor accommodation on site to help eliminate the cost of labor transportation. Being situated in Ras Al Khaimah, our investors can enjoy operating a business and living in comfortable housing at a cost that is 25-50% less than in other Emirates.

How will your strategic partnership with RAK Municipality help boost the competitiveness of the Emirate?

RAK FTZ actively enters into various strategic partnerships with international and local government bodies. The MoU between RAK FTZ and RAK Municipality covers various partnership activities and commitments that focus on improving the free zone's services to its existing and potential clients. It will speed up documentation and license approvals, issuance of no objection certificates for food, veterinary and cosmetics industries clients, as well as the adoption and registration of RAK FTZ's new properties. The MoU will also let RAK FTZ gain access to the governmental land database in order to utilize unused government-owned land for investment in different industries. Our partnership with RAK Municipality will further boost the business-friendliness of not only the free zone but of the Emirate in general to international investors. Time is very important, especially for investors. When they hear of a place where they can save time and money, and at the same time get access to high-quality services and facilities, it immediately draws their attention. With Ras Al Khaimah's different government agencies working hand in hand, investors will surely flock to the Emirate.

In which countries do you see a special interest for Ras Al Khaimah?

The free zone has been actively sending delegations all over the world. Last year, we went to several countries around the world to present the unique business opportunities offered in Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE. We visited Italy, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, India, Pakistan, China, the UK, Jordan, France, and Germany. All of these have been very successful but we particularly saw major potential for China and Europe. In fact, we have conducted five roadshows in China in 2015 in the cities of Foshan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Zheijang, and Beijing. Our international offices in Turkey and Germany help us focus on attracting European investors as we see high demand and enquiries coming from the region. We have built a solid global presence through our international offices. Aside from Turkey and Germany, we also have a regional office in India, which is also one of our most important markets. We continuously see many Indian investors coming to register in Ras Al Khaimah.