In the United Arab Emirates, there is a place where smart business owners and entrepreneurs have been quietly discovering over the last few years, and we are not talking about Abu Dhabi or Dubai. Ras al Khaimah is an Emirate that begs to be discovered in terms of business and leisure; the name of this sovereign jurisdiction roughly translates to “top of the tent,” and it occupies a strategic spot in the Arabian Peninsula. If you are not familiar with RAK, you are not alone; this part of the world has traditionally flown under the radar, but this is rapidly changing under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi.
The modern RAK Emirate is a place where you would definitely want to live and work. Hundreds of companies have formed in this business-friendly jurisdiction, and quite a few multinational companies have opted to manage their Middle East operations from one of the various free trade zones. Tax incentives and a pro-corporate environment are certainly attractive, but RAK presents another important advantage: quality of life. Business principles can easily staff their companies in RAK thanks to an educated local workforce, but they can also bring skilled foreign workers without having to worry about cumbersome visa processes, bureaucracy, or red tape.
In case you are thinking about forming a business venture or pursuing a job overseas, RAK is a place where you will surely want to live in. A good way to get a feel for this Emirate, aside from researching online, is to come over for a visit and enjoy its hospitality. RAK is a very pretty land; she is blessed with miles of brown sandy beaches, dramatic deserts, interesting rocky formations, oasis camps, and plenty of five-star luxury resorts. While you are here, inquire about touring the free trade zones and residential areas; you will be impressed with the suburban planning, cleanliness, and modern aesthetics. Life is good in RAK, and you can thank the vision of Sheikh Saud for making this Emirate a place where you will want to live, work, and prosper.
The transformation of RAK dates back to the World War II era with the ascension of Sheikh Saud’s father, a leader who became concerned with the sluggish development of the Emirate and implemented resolute measures to eliminate tribal conflicts. The late Sheikh Saqr broke up illicit concessions previously granted by the Sultanate to British exploration firms that eventually determined the lack of gas and oil reservoirs in RAK. The next step consisted of reclaiming the glory of the ancient Julfar civilization, and this called for a focus on sustainable development decades before it was known as such.
Sheikh Saqr’s plan to develop RAK focused on education, welfare, infrastructure, and empowerment of the community; these principles would be augmented by his son as Crown Prince and later as Supreme Ruler. Based on his background as a political science and economics graduate, Sheikh Saud industrialized the Emirate through the expansion of RAK Ceramics and Julphar, two companies that currently enjoy market leader status in the Persian Gulf. With the establishment of the RAK Investment Authority, a sovereign fund that concentrates on stimulating economic growth for the benefit of the Emirate, Sheikh Saud was able to obtain enough capital to carry out his development projects; at one point, the sovereign debt may have seemed alarming, but as of August 2019 RAK had been affirmed as long-term “A” investment by Fitch Ratings.
Similar to what a master chef would do when presented with a great array of quality ingredients, Sheikh Saud has come up with a recipe for economic success in RAK. When you look at everything this Emirate has to offer, it is easier to understand its transformation. You have to start with the geographic and topographic advantage; RAK is where the highest elevations of the UAE are located, and it is also blessed with abundant aquifers that facilitate agriculture. Unlike Dubai, where the constant high temperatures can seem stifling, RAK enjoys a milder climate. More importantly, residents of RAK are aware of these blessings, and this awareness shines when you deal with them. Sheikh Saud wants his people to be happy, and he has done a pretty good job thus far.