THE INDY 100

Ras Al Khaimah 2017 | DIPLOMACY | FOCUS: INDIA RELATIONS

Ras Al Khaimah is already home to 6,000 Indian-owned companies operating within the Emirate's free zones. With UAE-India trade exchange looking set to reach USD100 billion in less than five years, more investors will be drawn into the Emirate's stable environment and low operating costs.

In August 2015 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made history by being the first premier from the country to visit the UAE in over three decades. This event paved the way for a new era of cooperation between both countries that was further reinforced by the three-day visit of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to India in February 2016.

The UAE and India have long enjoyed a robust relationship based on trade and commerce that dates back to over a thousand years ago. During 2014 and 2015 trade exchange between both countries amounted USD 59 billion. UAE's exports to India reached USD26 billion while India's exports to the UAE came to USD33.3 billion, making India the third largest exporter to the UAE with 9.2% of its total imports . During the February visit, it was agreed that bilateral trade will hit USD 100 billion by 2020.

Aside from trade, the UAE accounts for 81.2% of the total investments coming from the Arab world and is ranked 11th worldwide of the total FDI in India. Likewise, the UAE attracts many Indian investors due to its strategic location and its status as a gateway to African and European markets, the ease of investment procedures, accessible infrastructure and the political and economic stability in the country. India is one of the most important global markets for Ras Al Khaimah and as such, the investment plays an important role in the Emirate's economic development. Currently there are over 6,000 Indian companies based in RAK's free zones and 2,731 registered in RAK Chamber of Commerce and Industry. RAK Airport announced in March 2016 that Air India Express flights to the Emirate had commenced, which has brought joy to the many Indian expatriates in the Northern Emirates that had limited options to return home. Air India Express operates four flights per week to Kozhikode (Calicut) with more destinations in mind in the near future. Hinduja Group set up a manufacturing facility for Ashok Leyland vehicles in the Emirate, and is now expanding production capacity with a USD25 million investment and also building a new design and service training center.

In March 2016, Vijay Kumar Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, and his delegation visited HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, to open channels of cooperation and to create more business opportunities between the two parties. Following this visit, the UAE-India Ras Al Khaimah Business Forum 2016 was organized by RAK Chamber in collaboration with Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC) the following month. A total of 60 Indian companies attended the forum to discuss cooperation and investment in areas such as tourism, education and health. At the end of the event both institutions signed an MoU in the presence of the Deputy Consul General of India to further facilitate investment relations between Ras Al Khaimah and India in the future.

Even though both emerging and developed markets are experiencing slow and revised growth, India and Ras Al Khaimah have managed to still grow. Further Indian investment will continue to enhance the UAE as an attractive destination for global investment and will maintain Ras Al Khaimah's leading position as a manufacturing hub within the country.