The Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone Earns Another Award



According to fDi Intelligence, an industry journal that is part of the Financial Times family of publications, the Ras al Khaimah Economic Zone has once again earned a distinction for its commitment to attract global business activity. This is the third year in a row that RAKEZ is mentioned by fDi Intelligence as a global free zone worthy of recognition. As the situation stands today, RAKEZ hosts more than 14,000 companies that do business in over a hundred countries around the world.


One of the factors mentioned by fDi in its recognition of RAKEZ is that business owners will find that setting up operations here is very affordable. Compared to other free trade zones in the United Arab Emirates, including the Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai, the cost of setting up in RAKEZ can be 50% less, and the process is highly streamlined.


Business owners and entrepreneurs will find three walk-in RAKEZ service centers where they can get all the information and assistance they need to establish a business presence. There is also Portal 360, an internet-based platform to speed up the process. All these initiatives to encourage international business activity in the RAKEZ are part of the vision of HH Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi, a ruler who strongly believes in the economic power that can be created through business-friendly measures.


As can be imagined, many of the companies that have set up shop in the RAKEZ are considered to be small-to-medium enterprises. There are quite a few large companies, and this is something that CEO Ramy Jallad would like to increase. For 2019, RAKEZ was also recognized for its commitment to expansion, and this was made clear by the expansion of 39 buildings, 12 lots, and 47 warehouses. Whenever a RAKEZ business tenant needs more space to expand its operations, government-appointed representatives are there to assist. For the year 2020, RAKEZ leadership will continue working on its industrial strategy, which intends to attract more heavy industrial operations.


It should be noted that RAKEZ is not your typical free trade zone; it operates as a government-sponsored business entity that enjoys the support of the RAK Investment Authority. Unlike FTZ operations in other countries, which are essentially industrial or corporate compounds closed off from the community, RAKEZ companies are tightly integrated in various districts of Ras Al Khaimah. There are six business zones managed by RAKEZ, and they are spread across the Emirate in a district-like fashion. Al Hamra and Al Ghail are for large-scale industrial operations. Al Hulaila is for manufacturing. The three remaining zones are dedicated to academic, business, and media activities.


The business ambiance at the various zones in RAK can be compared to that of Manaus in Brazil, where the FTZ is essentially a large district within a modern city. RAKEZ prefers this approach over creating isolated compounds, a practice that is commonly seen in countries such as Costa Rica, where FTZ operations are not integrated with the community. RAKEZ presents the Emirate as a nice place to work, live, and play, and this is reflected in the way the various zones have been set up.


In November 2019, RAKEZ was also recognized by the Gulf Cooperation Council as a great place to work in terms of branding. RAKEZ executives are strongly interested in attracting and retaining the best talent in the Emirate, and they do this through clever and strategic marketing; the idea is to build RAKEZ as a brand and to continue developing it as one of the best places to work in the UAE. Moreover, RAKEZ also offers staffing advice to tenants in the various business zones.


Without a doubt, the involvement of the RAK Investment Authority is one of the greatest strengths enjoyed by RAKEZ. It would be easy to think of the RAK Investment Authority as a sovereign wealth fund, but this is not the case; Ras Al Khaimah does not possess oil riches, which means that its investment advisers are tasked with identifying opportunities to bring business into the Emirate. Whereas other sovereign wealth funds venture outside of their jurisdictions to look for overseas investment opportunities, the directors of the RAK Investment Authority are more interested in keeping the RAKEZ busy with new companies.


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