In the difficult situation of the past financial crisis, the free economic zone of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah - Rak Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) - continued to grow and develop as the preferred business center of the Middle East, which allowed it to take its rightful place in the market, along with others leading free economic zones. Today, the RAK FTZ example is reviving the confidence of the business community in rebuilding the global economy.
Last year, RAK FTZ stepped up some of its activities and introduced new initiatives simultaneously on several fronts. This allowed her not only to improve her own marketing programs and relations with clients, but also to demonstrate the desire to further support the business community.
As a result, RAK FTZ managed to do even more than was planned, and continue to constantly increase the number of registered companies and revenues, which grew by 10 and 11 percent, respectively, compared to 2008. “The progress we made in 2009 can be attributed to the fact that we are fully aware of the state of affairs in the financial market, and all our strategies are built on the knowledge acquired through a continuous study of the possibilities and needs of the world market. We have compiled and brought to life action plans that allowed us to go through the crisis with dignity, "said Osama El Omari, Chairman of the Board of RAK FTZ. “We made every effort to support the local economy by attracting new companies and investing in the UAE. This helped us to become more open in the local and international markets and try to be better in our segment. Moreover, we had to significantly expand the scope of the SEZ. In this connection, today one of our main priorities is to support small and medium-sized enterprises, since it is precisely the high activity of such companies that is the most vivid evidence of economic recovery. " The aspirations of RAK FTZ are aimed at strengthening its international authority by strengthening existing positions and conquering new markets.
In 2009 alone, 158 events were held in countries such as Jordan, Syria, India, Lebanon, Pakistan and Egypt. Due to its participation in forums, conferences and exhibitions, as well as the implementation of advertising campaigns and field events, RAK FTZ presented its special offers to business circles of different countries. Over the past four years, the dissemination of a program to promote information on the opportunities and privileges of working in the SEZ of Ras Al Khaimah has significantly strengthened the recognition of the RAK FTZ brand around the world. This was evidenced by the period 2006-2007, during which the number of companies that preferred RAK FTZ increased from 2768 to 4309, as well as the period 2007-2008, when revenue grew by 12%.
If we talk about the activity of business circles from different countries, then in 2009 in the list of 1935 new companies registered in the RAK FTZ, India took the leading step with 37%, and Great Britain with 12% in second place. As for the countries of the Middle East, Egypt tops the list with 6% of newly registered companies. By area of activity, all companies operating in the free economic zone can be divided into the following sectors: 64% - trade and storage facilities, 26% - companies that provide advice and services, 3% - industrial sector and 7% - total trade. Some of the newly registered companies in RAK FTZ became leaders in terms of investment in 2009. Among them: Dolphin International FZC (RAK Duty Free), Ballistic Solutions Emirates FZE, Capdec Paints FZC, Middle East Spark Trading FZE, Thermal Ceramics and Max Marine FZC.
The Ras Al Khaimah Free Economic Zone offers five types of business licenses: commercial licenses, general trading licenses, consultancy and service licenses, industrial and academic licenses. According to the Ras Al Khaimah Chamber of Commerce, the emirate's contribution to the UAE's gross domestic product is about 16.2 billion dirhams (4.4 billion US dollars) annually.
One of the current tasks of RAK FTZ is to strengthen its authority by satisfying and even anticipating the requirements of its existing and future customers. In this regard, in 2009 RAK FTZ organized a number of events aimed at strengthening friendly relations between company teams. Among these activities were Business Breakfast and RAK FTZ Golf Day. The main goal is to provide RAK FTZ members with the opportunity to get to know each other through open and free communication, exchange ideas and opinions, as well as assist in finding potential business partners, investors and distributors. The Ras Al Khaimah Free Economic Zone in 2009 also presented several additional opportunities for companies, for example, a specialized "German" counter was created, which employs German-speaking specialists who are ready to provide any support to SEZ clients, from issuing visas to opening offices in RAK FTZ business centers.
In addition to this, the “Free Spirit” newsletter has again been published in the RAK FTZ, which has grown very quickly from 26 to 40 pages and offers a variety of materials for company shareholders, including news about recently opened enterprises in the RAK FTZ , upcoming events, articles on the best tourist attractions of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and much more. The newsletter is issued once every two months. And in order to keep up with current trends in communications, marketing and working with clients, the SEZ Ras Al Khaimah has also expanded its presence on such popular social networks as Facebook, Linkedln and Twitter, where it actively shares its latest news and event announcements, conducts interactive communication with existing and potential customers and other interested parties.
Emphasizing its commitment to environmental care, RAK FTZ initiated several meetings with market leaders during the year to familiarize its customers with the long-awaited Environmental Performance Card, which participated in several clean-up campaigns in the emirate, and in the last quarter of 2009 sponsored the Desert Protection Campaign to protect the UAE’s pristine desert lands.
2009 also demonstrated recognition of RAK FTZ achievements by severalprestigious organizations. Already at the beginning of last year, the RAK FTZ received awards in four categories at the Sheikh Saqr Program for Government Excellence, namely the “Distinguished Governmental Department of the Year 2008”, “Mystery Shopper”, “Distinguished Organized Unit for 2008 ”and“ Applying Standards - Processes ”.
A little later, the RAK FTZ for the third time was named the “Best Emerging Free Zone” at the Middle East Logistics Awards (MELA), as well as the “Industrial Area of the Year Award” in during the ceremony Supply Chain and Transport Awards - SCATA (Supply and Transport Networks).
Moreover, the recently launched RAK FTZ website was recognized as the “Best Website” at the 9th International Conference on Free Economic Zone (WFZC). All these recognition marks are direct results of RAK FTZ's desire to become the most preferred business center in the Middle East, where every company or person of any nationality can find business solutions suitable for themselves.
May 27, 2010 RAK FTZ will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its successful work. The celebration will be accompanied not only by colorful fireworks, but also by a review of its own ten-year activity. It is planned to further improve the existing service and develop new measures to improve all aspects of RAK FTZ in the future.
“We are trying to do our best to contribute to the creation of new jobs for the generation of young businessmen, to contribute to the growth of our economy and environmental protection,” said Mr. Omari. “This year, before the start of the new 10-year period for the SEZ of Ras Al Khaimah, we are summing up the past decade and making plans for the future. We are entering a new era in our development and are optimistic about the future.”
The coming 2010 looks promising for the RAK FTZ. The Ras Al Khaimah Free Economic Zone will continue to strengthen its position as a business center that provides solid support to small and medium-sized enterprises that plan to establish or expand their activities in the Middle East and the Gulf countries. In 2010, RAK FTZ plans to hold large-scale promotions in the markets of Turkey, Russia and the CIS countries, South Africa and the USA.
RAK FTZ also intends to launch a new type of service - Mazeed Services, continue to improve its existing facilities and services, and increase the number of registered companies by 15%, which should approximately amount to 2,250 additional enterprises on its territory. In 2010, the Ras Al Khaimah Free Economic Zone will continue to prove that it is able to help enterprises enter emerging markets and is truly a “home for business,” as stated in its motto.