Home to around 14,500 large and small companies, RAKEZ has been bringing in investments into Ras Al Khaimah, leading to economic growth and job creation, and enabling the UAE to shift from capital and labour intensive economy to innovative and technology-driven economy. It has also emerged as a business incubator for SMEs within the UAE and has been receiving ‘A’ rating from Fitch Ratings for 10 years. However, there is increased competition from several new hubs and RAKEZ is looking to stay ahead with bigger incentives and benefits. These include state-of-the-art business and industrial facilities in six specialised zones, support service and customisation for business needs.
In an exclusive interview with BusinessLive Middle East, RAKEZ Group Chief Executive Officer Ramy Jallad how discusses on diversifying services, industrial incentives and incentives and connecting with startups and SMEs.
The free zone is supported by major logistical hubs:
- 5 seaports, including Saqr Port – the largest bulk commodity port in the Middle East
- RAK international airport as well as proximity to Dubai International Airport
- Multi-lane superhighways connecting to neighbouring emirates and countries
Incentives and services:
- Cost of living and cost of setting up and running a business is 50% less than the region
- Simplified processes, one-stop shops, expert client representatives and self-service client portal accessible 24×7
- There is a dedicated account manager for each industrial company to assist with licence and visa renewals, facility expansions, mortgage facilitation, support on technical issues and other federal and local authorities related issues
- There is also a dedicated engineering team to approve drawings, issue permits and required construction certificates
- Availability of onsite technical support including issuance of building permits
- The free zone offers customisation of product and services
Manufacturing & Assembly
The free zone houses more than 770 industrial companies. It is a hub for companies such as:
- Italfood: The Italian cheese brand has been manufacturing mozzarella cheese in Ras Al Khaimah since 2010 and uses high-quality ingredients and fresh milk from local farms to make its products
- Ahmad Tea blends and packs its products at RAKEZ. It produces around 14 million kg of tea blends every year and exports it to 80 countries.
- Ashok Leyland assembles vehicle at the free zone and is a major contributor of the UAE’s public transport. Its base in Ras Al Khaimah manufactures nearly 3,000 buses per year
- Dabur, the personal care products brand, has been in Ras Al Khaimah since 2007 and supplies the Middle East region from the free zone.
- Other well-known brands operating in RAKEZ include Streit Group in vehicle armouring, Knauf in construction materials manufacturing and Saver Glass and Guardian Glass in glass manufacturing
Sops for Startups and SMEs
“The free zone has been nurturing the startup ecosystem and hosted the first-ever Seaside Startup Summit in the UAE and Startup Weekend Ras Al Khaimah,” says Ramy Jallad.
“For young ventures, the free zone offers co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators.
There are quick set-up processes, support services, shared workstations for low-risk solution to explore the market and offices for building a permanent regional presence.
“There is also a RAKEZ Mubader Package for aspiring young entrepreneurs (fresh graduates and final-year students) and starts from AED 650 per month. It gives them licence, shared workspace and ongoing support services.
“A large percentage of companies at RAKEZ are SMEs, which are spread across 50 industries,” adds.
The 14,500 businesses in RAKEZ come from a variety of sectors:
- Trade: 45.5%
- Services: 33.31%
- General Trading: 8.28%
- Industrial: 5.31%
- Media, E-commerce and Education: 7.6%
Investment and Expansion
RAKEZ is enhancing the infrastructure and adding services to its specialised zones. These include:
- Improving business environment, and ease of doing business, and constructing infrastructure to enable the growth of these industrial clusters
- Construct new warehouses and more labour accommodations
- Extend and upgrade the road networks and create new entry and exit gates for easier and faster movements of goods
- Add more standard offices in Business Zone and Al Hamra Industrial Zone
- Partner with more key organisations. In 2019, it partnered with RAK Bank, Noor Bank and Mashreq to offer clients with more banking options
- Hold more roadshows and join exhibitions in different parts of the globe to connect with more businesses
- Setting the direction for coordinated investment promotion activities in Ras Al Khaimah, in line with the RAK 2030 Vision
- Development of a one-stop shop that serves as a platform to RAKEZ and the various government entities to provide a seamless customer experience to investors operating in the emirate
- Support entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs, by developing more competitive solutions
- Incentives for women entrepreneurs. Starting at AED 6,200 per year, 1 and 3-year packages with come with value-added services, free usage of shared workstations and one free investor visa
Reaching Out to Foreign Markets
RAKEZ has representative offices in India and Germany and is exploring markets such as UK, India, China, Germany, Pakistan and France to support international investors to set up their businesses in the UAE.
Read BusinessLive Middle East’s Free Trade Zones & Special Economic Zones Special Report 2019-20
INTRODUCTION: Free-trade Zones & Special Economic Zones
CHAPTER 1: Booming Business of Free Zones
CHAPTER 2: Finding Value in Free Trade Zones
CHAPTER 3: Future of Free Zones