RAK FTZ has turned the spotlight on Ras Al Khaimah’s growing economic potential
Over the past 15 years, RAK FTZ has been steadily building the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah’s profile as one of the most viable business hubs in the Middle East. And its efforts are paying off.
Today, the northern emirate is basking in economic glory. Latest available data showed that its GDP has ballooned by over 28% from AED24.1 billion (USD6.55bn) in 2012 to AED30.9bn (USD8.4bn) in 2013, while economic outlook by global credit rating agencies remains favourable.
Ramy Jallad, Acting CEO of RAK FTZ, said supporting the emirate’s economic diversification plan has been the raison d'être behind the free zone’s creation in 2000, following an Emiri decree.
“RAK FTZ was mandated to provide custom-made business solutions to aspiring entrepreneurs and expanding international companies. This year, RAK FTZ is poised to celebrate its 15th year of excellence as the oldest and largest special economic zone in RAK, and the second-largest free zone in the UAE,” he said.
Home to more than 8,000 businesses from over 100 countries, and representing over 50 industry sectors, RAK FTZ has also diversified from its traditional focus on industrial manufacturing. Currently, it also supports trading, sales and marketing activities, as well as a wide range of service sectors, and logistics and distribution platforms.
It likewise boasts an affiliate RAK Academic Free Zone, which hosts a wide variety of educational institutions and service providers. But what really sets RAK FTZ apart from other free zones in the UAE, said Jallad, is its cost-effectiveness.
“RAK FTZ has substantially lower costs than free zones in other emirates, which allows clients to achieve greater return on investment. It is simply more cost-effective, even while providing the same advantages as other free zones,” he said.
For example, the cost of renting facilities and land for development, procuring licences and providing housing for employees, along with other costs, is up to 50% less than it is at free zones elsewhere in the UAE.
RAK FTZ is cementing its image as one of the world’s most welcoming and efficient investment destinations by making it as easy as possible to set up a business in the UAE.
Among its benefits include 100% foreign ownership and world-class, ready-made facilities; award-winning and ongoing business set-up services; fast-track licensing and registration; investor and worker visa issuance; and freedom to source labour and materials globally. It also offers ongoing business support services such as advertising, procurement, event management, recruitment and training assistance for employees.
Setting up a business within the free zone has never been more hassle-free. Investors can get their companies up and running without the need to leave their building as most transactions such as applying for Emirates IDs and getting documents notarised can be done in house, while payments for free zone services can be made with a credit card through the e-payment gateway.
Underscoring the free zone’s full and ongoing business support, the Mazeed Services Desk provides marketing assistance to help investors get the word out about their companies so they can attract clients. Mazeed also offers human resources professionals, who can help business owners in the recruitment and training of staff.
In addition, Mazeed offers business support functions such as documentation, translation, attestation, as well as typing and printing services.
“Our wide array of services allow investors to spend more time making their businesses grow rather than running from place to place to meet bureaucratic requirements,” the acting CEO said.
Luring investors to its shores
Within just four years, RAK FTZ was able to double its portfolio of international clients from more than 4,000 in 2011 to more than 8,000 currently. Apart from providing a tax-free environment and fast-track licensing and visa services, RAK FTZ attracts companies by offering a suite of business solutions that specifically address the needs of growing companies at each stage of their development.
The free zone comprises three specialised free zone parks: a Business Park for office clients; an Industrial Park for heavy manufacturing; and a Technology Park for trading and light manufacturing.
The Business Park has flexi desks and flexi offices, which are shared work stations with phones and internet access that serve as low-cost business incubators to help companies get started.
“As the company grows, there are a wide range of offices from shell and core to executive offices that offer space and equipment that can be adjusted to match any business needs, along with advanced IT/telecommunications infrastructure and access to modern corporate business centre services such as mail, courier services, a post office, etc., that can aid business growth.
“There are also larger warehouses and land for development in the Industrial Park, so investors can build their own facilities such as labour accommodation. This allows business owners to save money and avoid the risk of transporting their work force. The Industrial Park also has easy access to sea ports, airports, and international superhighways reaching across the UAE and into other GCC countries,” explained Jallad.
RAK FTZ continues to receive enquiries and demand from clients in almost every industry sector worldwide. Most recently, it has attracted a cluster of more than 10 companies from the armoured vehicles industry, which lured related industry players, including manufacturers of armoured fire-fighting equipment, safety glass, protective garments and vests, security devices and equipment.
The free zone is also developing a five-year strategic plan that will see the RAK Academic Free Zone become an international hub for higher learning and academic research. In the near future, RAK FTZ will focus on back-office services, including IT, consultancies, services, call centres and outsourcing.
Jallad emphasised that RAK FTZ will remain committed to providing cost-effective solutions for companies looking to set up shop and grow their business in Ras Al Khaimah.
Reprinted from Gulf News