Ras al-Khaimah: Country and Foreign Investment
Economy and Currency
There are relatively small mineral reserves in Ras al-Khaimah, so the oil and gas industry has not played a major role in the developments of the emirate’s economy. Nonetheless, vast quantities of limestone have been quarried from the Hajar mountains and Ras al-Khaimah is one of the region’s largest producers of cement. It is also one of the world’s largest suppliers of ceramic products; RAK Ceramics, which launched in 1991, produces 200,000 square metres of ceramic and porcelain tiles per day and exports to more than 135 countries.
With industry forming a major component of the local economy, Ras al-Khaimah is the UAE’s manufacturing centre, and other products made there include pharmaceuticals, steel, aluminium products, DVDs and glass. Industrial growth has been encouraged by the creation of the Ras al-Khaimah Free Zone, and the government is now seeking to encourage investors in international services.
In 2007, the RAK Investment Authority (RAKIA) launched an offshore business registry called RAK Offshore, or the RAKIA Free Zone, with the aim of providing international investors with a low-cost, hassle-free International Business Company product with few restrictions, and to lure investors looking for an alternative to traditional offshore financial centres. Regulations are expected soon to include various types of trust, foundations, collective investment schemes and offshore banking activities to be conducted from the RAKIA offshore zone.
Statistics are rather thin on the ground, but growth in the emirate is believed to have been strong over the last five years, continuing at a rate of 8% in both 2012 and 2013. Ras al-Khaimah has been assigned 'A1' short term and 'A' long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings by Standard and Poor’s rating agency. The outlook is stable. The ratings are underpinned by the relatively strong economic position of Ras al-Khaimah citizens. GDP per capita is thought to exceed USD20,000 at purchasing power parity. The UAE dirham is freely convertible and is linked to the US dollar. The current exchange rate is AED3.67 = USD1 and no revaluation has occurred since 1977.
With its long stretches of clean white sandy beaches, Ras Al Khaimah is becoming an increasingly popular destination for foreign tourists. There are several high-quality hotels and beach resorts, and the five-star Khatt Springs Hotel and Spa nestles close to the Hajar Mountains, covering an area of 2,000 square metres. Several other ambitious tourist and business developments are also underway, including the Jebel Jais Mountain Resort, to be built on one of the highest points of the Hajar mountains. It will offer a landmark five-star hotel and conference centre, a cable car linking the resort to sea level, luxurious residential units from apartments to villas, an outdoor winter snow skiing slope, and a climbing, paragliding and abseiling centre.