Stephanie Ritchie contributed to this story.
There are several factors that make the United Arab Emirates (UAE) a high growth market. Among these are its business-friendly environment, strategic location for international trade, world-class infrastructure, favorable government policies to promote trade and investment. After remaining resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic, the country is well positioned to return to pre-pandemic levels of growth across sectors, opening up new opportunities for international investors.
Strategically located between Asia, Europe and Africa, the UAE is one of the most attractive countries for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Middle East (ME) and Africa region.
Let’s take a closer look at Ras Al Khaimah, or as some call it (“RAK”), the northernmost of the seven emirates – a 45-minute drive from Dubai – emerging as one of the fastest growing economic zones. A leading place for foreign investment in the region. RAKEZ-Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone’s main commercial and industrial hub with more than 15,000 companies in 50 sectors in three industrial zones, two commercial zones and one academic zone.
“Ras Al Khaimah today offers investors dynamic investment opportunities in transport and logistics, hospitality and tourism, consumer, food and beverages, advanced manufacturing, aviation, automotive, mobility, education, healthcare, technology 5G and more. According to RAKEZ Group CEO Rami Jalad, we welcome companies from all over the world to work and trade in our business and industrial parks and even our job centers.
Jalad holds a degree in mechanical engineering from West Michigan University. With more than 25 years of experience in commercial and industrial zones, business parks, airports and real estate development projects, it plays a significant role in attracting foreign investors from all over the world.
“We’ve created an environment where companies can reach the business world and find the best logistics in e-commerce, logistics or shipping and transportation, and manufacture and distribute their products around the world faster and more efficiently. An efficient and cost-effective way,” Jalad said.
The government-established authority, along with private corporations, provides licensing, customizable facilities and support services such as visa facilitation to help businesses comply with UAE laws and regulations.
The region is successfully expanding its FDI portfolio, especially in high-tech, artificial intelligence and lifestyle manufacturing areas, Jalad said.
The UAE’s foreign direct investment has grown by 116 percent over the past decade, rising from $9.6 billion in 2012 to $20.7 billion in 2021, according to the Ministry of Economy.
The United Arab Emirates recently announced an $820 million investment in space to expand its oil-based economy and encourage partnerships between international and local enterprises.
For example, in RAK, acid battery recycling company Royal Gulf Industries recently announced a $17 million investment to build the UAE’s first environmentally friendly automotive battery recycling center.
Jalad recently led an investment mission to Canada with Canadian business leaders and prospective investors representing Canada’s largest corporations, management investment firms and industry associations. The aim is to promote RAK as a leading investment destination and drive more North American businesses and partners to implement the RAK Industrial Strategy 2030 across a range of key industries.
Canada’s investment mission RAKEZ is one example of targeted investor promotion and attraction, and the Government of Ras Al Khaimah’s next-generation initiative to attract capital and investment and ensure a competitive business environment.
“We are seeing untapped potential for Canadian businesses in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market,” Jalad said.
RAK is an attractive base for Canadian companies looking to access the EMEA and GCC markets. Benefits to increase profits include 100% foreign ownership in free zone areas, attractive corporate and personal tax rates of 0% (lowest in the world); 100% return of capital and profits; Affordable and top talent and up to 50% lower business operating costs than the regional average and others.
According to him, the Covid-19 pandemic may have played a role in turning the region into a magnet for international trade. “People have learned the hard way when they have all their eggs in one basket, it can really hurt them,” he said. “You had logistical problems, you had closing problems. UAE has managed covid very well. [Infection rates] They were always very low. Everyone is vaccinated. Business was still booming, so everyone wanted to be in the UAE to ride that wave.
What about the global talent shortage? According to the CEO, attracting and retaining talent is not a concern for RAKEZ.
“The talent in the UAE is always ready,” he said. “We meet people from all walks of life, from all different cultures, who want to work.”
“There is no shortage of companies established here, but they can bring their own skills from their home countries or secure local talent,” he continued.