One of the best places to do business in the 21st century is located near the northeastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, and it is part of the United Arab Emirates. Ras Al Khaimhah has a trading history dating back thousands of years, but it was not particularly known as a business hub, at least not until Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi decided that the time had come to turn things around. These days, the Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) is widely considered to be one of the most inviting places for doing business in the Middle East, and this is an achievement that can be directly attributed to Sheikh Saud leader of RAK.
In the 1970s, when Sheikh Saud was pursuing his higher education goals in Lebanon and the United States, the economy of the United Arab Emirates was strongly focused on oil production. Despite the two oil crises of the decade, the economic climate was favorable for the UAE, but there were concerns about heavy dependence on extraction and refinery operations. After obtaining degrees in political science and economics from the University of Michigan, Sheikh Saud returned to Ras Al Khaimah with the intention of promoting business development, initially at the municipal level and later across the Emirate. There was a strong motivation in this regard: years of exploration failed to find significant oil reservoirs under the fertile RAK lands, and Sheikh Saud became convinced that business diversity would be the key to future economic success.
The RAKEZ was established by royal decree for the purpose of augmenting the operations of existing free trade zones in Ras Al Khaimah as well as the RAK Investment Authority, which date back to 2005. The RAKEZ is spread across many of the 960 square miles of the Emirate, and in less than two decades it has managed to attract more than 10,000 companies from around the world. Whereas the RAK Free Trade Zones were founded with materials research and heavy industrial applications in mind, the RAKEZ expands to media, science, technology, education, finance, manufacturing, and dozens of other sectors. Whereas Dubai is heavily focused on technology and finance, the scope of business taking place in the RAKEZ is far more diverse.
To get an idea of the variety of economic activities generated by the RAKEZ, here’s a quick rundown of some of the companies recognized as being outstanding business operations in 2017:
Founded in 2015, is a strategic business consultancy firm that focuses on coaching, leadership, and facilitation. The main objective of Marmalade Fish is to enable clients to turn their business operations into responsible companies for the improvement of their communities.
As the world’s premier manufacturer of armored vehicles, the STREIT Group provides solutions for military, law enforcement, security, marine, and private industries.
Thunder Road Pizza and Grill
By virtue of being a major international business hub, the RAKEZ attracts many executives and employees who were raised on pizza and other delicacies of Italian-American cuisine. Thunder Road is an American-style diner and market that offers authentic Italian-American dishes and ingredients. What stands out about this company, aside from its delicious recipes, is that its B2C approach was founded on a B2B strategy; in essence, Thunder Road realized that thousands of foreigners working in the RAKEZ would like to get a taste of home, and this is something that other companies are starting to realize. For the most part, RAKEZ workers earn nice salaries that leave them with disposable income that can be spent at places such as Thunder Road.
From pre-engineered buildings to rolled steel structures and from metal building accessories to custom aluminum designs, Mabani Steel has provided materials to complete more than 3,000 projects in 70 countries. Some of the most impressive projects where Mabani Steel has been installed include the Dragon City shopping center of Bahrain and the Al Nakheel Mall of Iraq.
Fit On Click
This is a “New Economy” company that started doing business in 2014. Fit on Click began as an online fitness platform to promote exercise and healthy living in the UAE, but it has expanded to providing corporate fitness programs and matching personal trainers to individuals in various countries.