Q. What role has Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority [Rakia] played in improving Ras Al Khaimah's [RAK’s] business environment, which has made RAK one of the top FDI destinations within the Gulf?
A. Rakia was established in 2005 by [RAK's ruler] Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, with the purpose of attracting investments into two industrial zones, Al Hamra and Al Ghail. We have embarked upon several feasibility studies, and we have carried out market and industrial studies into products that we think will be good to manufacture in this area. We have researched which companies are manufacturing these products, and we are approaching and inviting them to come to RAK and establish an office here.
We are reaching out and telling them: come and do business here because you will make more money, and you will be closer to the market if you set up a base here. We are currently doing a lot of seminars, we have worked with fDiMagazine and we are working with companies to attract investments here. We have issued several licences. In 2011 we issued about 1500 licences, and in 2012 we are already performing much better. On average we are issuing 120 new licences a month.
Q. How would you evaluate the business environment in RAK?
A. It is extremely interesting. RAK is benefiting from the United Arab Emirates’ liberal policies. UAE has very liberal policies, [which are] highly conducive to fostering a friendly investor climate. This is a highly positive environment for investors, as it is easy to do business without corruption.
On top of that, I think RAK is a very cost-effective location. The cost of production here is among the cheapest in the Gulf countries. RAK’s business environment is much better than other countries. fDiMagazine rated us as the most cost-effective destination in 2007, and in 2009 and 2010 we were rated as the most attractive destination. In 2011, we were [named] the most creative destination.
Q. How well has Rakia performed in attracting foreign companies to set up their operations within RAK's industrial parks? Also how would you assess your aftercare services in terms of the ongoing support Rakia offers companies that are already established within them?
A. We offer a lot of services. We accompany the investor from A to Z. When an investor comes here, we advise them on construction prices, as well as the available construction companies; and we advise on recruitment, as well as the best way to ensure that their costs are minimised. We also advise investors on feasibility studies, on how to attain machineries and goods, and through all of this help and assistance we offer, the investors are very happy with us.
Q. What is your message to investors who are considering RAK as a potential place to do business?
A. At the end of the day the message is simple – whoever comes here, in my opinion, will make more money than in any other place. I am also the CEO of RAK Ceramics here, and we have established a RAK Ceramics factory in RAK. We have other factories in China, Bangladesh, India, Iran and Sudan. None of these locations has been more profitable than this one in RAK; the UAE-based factory is the most profitable. Therefore, what I would say to the investor is come to RAK as you will make more money here.