Ras Al Khaimah: Tax-Efficient Sectors
Ras Al Khaiamh is fast becoming one of the region’s most attractive offshore business locations, but the emirate is also the industrial heart of the UAE and therefore business activity has traditionally centred on physical activities such as manufacturing, trading and other export-orientated business. What the emirate lacks in oil and gas wealth it compensates for in large deposits of limestone, which has helped to create successful cement and ceramics industries exporting to countries all over the world. The largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in the UAE is also located in Ras Al Khaimah and has operations in Germany and Ecuador. Glass and steel making are also important industries.
Most of these industries are located in the Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ), which launched in 2000 and is divided into five ‘parks,’ located in various parts of the emirate. These include the Industrial Park, Business Park, Technology Park, Aviation Park and Academy Zone.
The Industrial Park is situated along the coastal road approximately 18 km north of Ras Al Khaimah and just 6km from Ras Al Khaimah’s main port, Saqr. It covers an area of about 130 hectares. As well as heavy industry, the Industrial Park also contains extensive warehouse space in units sized from 150 square meters up to 500 square meters which are suitable for light manufacturing and assembly, as well as for storage. The industrial zone is under constant expansion, and a much larger industrial area, known as the Al Ghayl Industrial Park is being developed for heavy industry and which currently covers 223 hectares.
The Business Park is located in the centre of Ras Al Khaimah city and provides modern office facilities equipped with power, phone, internet and fax access, air conditioning, housekeeping services, 24 hour security and private postal address. Rental costs start at AED1,200 per square meter per year, and may include electricity costs. Lease terms are for one year and are renewable annually. A full year’s rent must be paid at the time of registering the company.
The 100 hectare Technology Park is situated to the south of Ras Al Kahimah city, close to Dubai in an area that is seeing rapid growth in light industry and of automated manufacturing plants.
The 75,000 square meter Aviation Park is located at Ras Al Khaimah International Airport and specializes in maintenance, repair and overhaul operations.
The Academy Zone is a dedicated facility from which educational organisations can offer academic programmes to the community of Ras Al Khaimah. Educational organisations can either manage their operations at an allocated building or build their own campuses at an assigned location in Ras Al Khaimah. It is estimated that half of Ras Al Khaimah’s population of 250,000 is made up of local Emiratis (much higher than in neighbouring Dubai for example) and it is said that the total number of students graduating from secondary school is 6,500 per year.
Branches of foreign universities may operate in the Academy Zone include. Other authorized activities include the provision of infrastructure and facilities to educational institutions, in-house training activities and distance learning. Student visas are available for university students. These last for 18 months and are applicable to students aged from 18 to 21.
Defying the challenging economic environment, the RAK FTZ continued to achieve steady growth during 2010 – its 10th year in operation. The RAK FTZ registered 1,740 (1,145 in 2011) new free zone companies during the year, while its International Companies (IC) division registered a record number of 1,499, a 14.65% increase in the total number of registrations compared to 2009. Licence renewals also achieved a significant growth of 16.49% in 2010, with 3,271 companies renewing their business licences, reinforcing the free zone’s reputation as one of the most attractive investment zones in the Middle East. As of the end of 2010, the total number of actively operational registered companies in RAK FTZ stood at over 5,000.
A further 522 new companies were registered in the RAK FTZ in the first quarter of 2011, in addition to 970 licence renewals in the same period.