“Currently, we are home to nearly 3,000 Indian businesses operating in over 50 sectors."

Following the opening of its new office in Mumbai, Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ), UAE is the preferred investment destination for over 13,000 flourishing businesses with nearly 3,000 Indian companies operating out of it. Talking to Manali Jaggi of BW SmartCities, HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saqr AL Qasimi, RAKEZ Chairman elaborated on India as an important market and zone’s support to Indian investors wishing to set up their business in UAE.

Tell us more about RAKEZ? Why did you decide to launch it in India?

RAKEZ is an authority established by the Government of Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates to oversee and consolidate two of the fastest growing free zones in the country. These hubs are RAK Free Trade Zone, which is focused on bringing forth innovation in the Middle East through attracting entrepreneurs and SMEs; and RAK Investment Authority, which centres on supporting large industrial companies from all over the world. With these two brought together under one umbrella, Ras Al Khaimah became a home to a powerhouse economic zone that offers a broader range of business solutions, and of course, vast growth opportunities.

Even before the introduction of RAKEZ, we have already been receiving a lot of enquiries from Indian investors. This was the reason behind the decision to open our first office in Mumbai in 2006. Due to the consistent demand throughout the years and to further support businessmen who wish to enter the fast-growing economies via UAE, we have decided to open a new office this year in Mumbai’s upscale community of Bandra Kurla Complex. Our success in attracting Indian investors is very evident in the numbers of our Indian tenants in RAKEZ. Currently, we are home to nearly 3,000 Indian businesses operating in over 50 sectors – that’s notably 20 per cent of our total investor population.

Are you going to open offices in any other cities apart from Mumbai?

I believe we are already strategically located in Mumbai as it is India’s largest city and the country’s financial capital. It brings us closer to a dynamic business community filled with investors that are ready to bring and expand their business to UAE. But of course, if the need arises, we will definitely be open to launch more offices in different parts of India.

Which big Indian names does your client list boasts of?

As I have mentioned, RAKEZ is home to Indian companies from a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, trading and logistics, education, tourism, services and real estate. One of the biggest Indian names in our portfolio is Ashok Leyland, which is the 2nd largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in India. The company is flourishing in our Al Ghail Industrial Zone since 2006. We also have Mahindra, which is also a vehicle manufacturer but its niche is armoured cars. The company joined us in 2010 and has been growing ever since. The prominent personal care products producer Dabur is also operating in our Al Hamra Industrial Zone since 2006. Other giant Indian ventures we have are GK Technologies, a steel structure manufacturer; Perfect Polymers, a producer of industrial and construction chemicals; Everest, a maker of composite roofing solution; and Concept Flexible Packaging, a plastic packaging materials manufacturer. 

What kind of potential do you see in a market like India?

India is one of the most exciting emerging markets in the world. It boasts of a very diverse economy and is home to a lot of manufacturing companies that export to Middle East and globally. Helping Indian companies bring their operations to UAE will help further strengthen UAE’s goal of eliminating its dependence on trade of petroleum products. But what is really interesting about the Indian market is that it is more into bringing technological innovation. India is home to many large tech businesses. These companies will support UAE’s Innovation Strategy as well as help the country build smart cities. Moreover, this will help grow our IT sector in RAKEZ, positioning us as an ideal platform for tech startups and corporations.

Which sectors RAKEZ is seeing strong growth driven by significant levels of foreign investments?

We are experiencing growth in almost all segments in RAKEZ as we are persistent in attracting new investment to the shore to further the economic diversification in the emirate. However, since we recently launched our Media Zone, we are expecting to have more additions to our currently over 100 media companies. The Media Zone is dedicated to fostering the growth of creative individuals and firms across various media segments. Manufacturing is also showing consistent growth as more and more producers are recognising the cost-efficiency of positioning their plants in Ras Al Khaimah. The emirate’s strategic location and substantial logistical advantages it offers – with seaports, airport and multilane superhighways – makes it a perfect re-export hub for companies who wish to supply products throughout the region.