THE IDEAL DESTINATION

UAE 2018 | RAS AL KHAIMAH | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ramy Jallad, Group CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ), RAK Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ), and RAK Investment Authority (RAKIA), on the Emirate's comfortable position within the GCC, increasing investment, and upcoming projects.

Ramy Jallad
BIOGRAPHY
Ramy Jallad is the Group CEO of RAKEZ, RAK FTZ, and RAKIA. He has over 25 years of professional experience and has led various commercial and industrial free zones, business parks, and mixed-use real estate developments. He has held various key leadership positions in both government and private enterprises, such as: Vice President-Free Zone & Properties for Abu Dhabi Airports Company; Executive Director of Business Development & Customer Services for Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone (TECOM); and General Manager of Caltex Oil Company.

What is the main factor behind the Emirate's impressive economic performance?

The Emirate's biggest revenue stream is not from oil but from the export of construction materials to neighboring countries. This is one of the main reasons why RAK enjoys a stable economy. Although some GCC countries are cutting back on construction costs, the demand for construction goods is still high, plus the Emirate also exports to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The diversified activities within RAKEZ are also a strong indicator of Ras Al Khaimah's diverse economy, as well as the development of the hospitality industry in the recent years, which substantially increased the number tourists coming to the Emirate. RAKEZ plans to further support this strong position by embarking on major infrastructure advancements that will help bolster the influx of investors.

What makes the Emirate such an attractive investment destination?

Ras Al Khaimah has a strong trading heritage, which continues through continuous infrastructural and economic developments. Today, RAK poses one of the most ideal investment destinations in the region, and made the list of top-10 small- and medium-sized global cities of the future, among the likes of Edinburgh and Zurich. What is great about the Emirate is its cost effectiveness. Costs are lower here, from operating a business to living in the Emirate. Another important factor is business friendliness. RAK is very business friendly and follows clear and transparent regulations that lessen the bureaucratic requirements that have to be fulfilled by investors. The connectivity of the Emirate to the world's fast-growing economies is also a key asset as well as the premier residential places and schools. Overall, Ras Al Khaimah provides convenience to foreign investors, offering them everything they need to grow their business and at the same time, live a comfortable life away from home. What is even better is the high level of collaboration between RAKEZ and other government entities to further ease doing business and ensure the smooth establishment of new companies. For example, our Government Services Department works efficiently with RAK Immigration to quickly issue all types of visas, as well as with the RAK Chamber to help clients easily acquire Chamber of Commerce membership. It is also worth noting that, at RAKEZ, we cater to over 50 industries and thousands of activities. We welcome businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs, SMEs, and manufacturers to traders from over 100 countries. To top it all off, Ras Al Khaimah offers an abundant supply of natural resources. The Emirate is home to one of the world's largest rock quarries, as well as high-quality deposits of limestone and clay, which benefit manufacturers, particularly those in the building materials field.

What are some of RAKEZ's major upcoming projects?

This year, we are all about developing the infrastructure of our industrial zones. Some of our plans have already been implemented while others will roll out in the coming years. All of this this been done to efficiently support our existing and potential investors in their industrial operations. We also recently announced the opening of our Media Zone. Right now, we are doing some enhancements to the Media Zone building so that creative companies get access to the right space and amenities to help them effectively bring their ideas to life. As for the upcoming development plans in the pipeline, we are currently master planning a new specialized zone. The objective of launching a new zone is to provide more locations for businesses to work, play, and grow. Also, in our ongoing effort to bring ease to our customers and investors, we are developing our offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to become full service centers. We are also looking into building additional labor accommodations in our industrial zones.