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UAE 2018 | RAS AL KHAIMAH | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ), on the establishment of the economic zone, the benefits of operating in the zone, and attracting international clients.

 Sheikh Ahmed bin Saqr Al Qasimi
BIOGRAPHY
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ), is a senior member of the ruling family of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. He envisions a vibrant and successful future for Ras Al Khaimah. Actively contributing to the economic and social growth of the Emirate, he also directs the goals of the Customs Department as its Chairman, ensuring that its services support the economy and security of the community. He is also the Chairman of Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi Foundation for Charity as well as Falcon Technologies International (FTI). He holds a bachelor’s degree in international public relations.

What characterizes RAKEZ?

RAKEZ is the evolution of the free zone landscape in Ras Al Khaimah, continuing the story that started with the foundation of RAK Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) and RAK Investment Authority (RAKIA) almost two decades ago. It has been established by the government to oversee, regulate, and consolidate the services, facilities, and zones of the two investment hubs, as well as serve their respective clients. It currently houses over 13,000 multinational companies from more than 100 countries covering over 50 industries, making it one of the largest economic zones in the region. RAKEZ uniquely offers free zone and non-free zone licenses through RAK FTZ and RAKIA, and provides its clients easy access to growing markets in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, South and Central Asia. At RAKEZ, we aim to be a customer-focused entity that offers simplified and efficient services. RAKEZ also provides a variety of facility choices such as Flexi facilities, standard offices, executive offices, warehouses, and land for development across many specialized zones across the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. These include RAKEZ Business Zone; Al Hamra, Al Ghail, and Al Hulaila Industrial Zones; RAKEZ Media Zone; and RAKEZ Academic Zone. RAKEZ 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 also get access to high-quality yet affordable housing, shopping malls, premier educational institutions, and advanced medical facilities. The Emirate offers a unique experience, allowing residents to enjoy a relaxed seaside ambiance, year-round sunny weather, and majestic mountains.

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

RAKEZ actively enters into various strategic partnerships with international and local government bodies. The MoU between RAKEZ and RAK Municipality covers various partnership activities and commitments that focus on improving the economic zone's services to its existing and potential clients. It speeds 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 RAKEZ's new properties. The MoU also lets RAKEZ 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 boosts further boost the business-friendliness of not only the economic 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?

We have been actively sending delegations all over the world. This 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 India, Pakistan, China, the UK, Greece and Jordan. All of these have been very successful, but we particularly saw major potential for China and India. In fact, we have participated at the 3rd Annual Free Trade and Special Economic Zone Summit in Shanghai, where we were able to meet a great number of potential Chinese investors. Furthermore, we have recently partnered with KPMG to organize an investment forum in India. Indian investors in the field of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, manufacturing, auto, IT, technology, biotech, financial services, and more have shown keen interest to operate from RAKEZ. Because of the continuous strong demand from India, we set up an office in Mumbai in 2006. We also have offices in Turkey and Germany, which help us focus on attracting European investors as we also see high demand and enquiries coming from the region.