The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, located at the northern end of UAE on the coast of the Arabian Gulf, is nestled between the Hajjar Mountains on the East and the Arabian Gulf on the West and shares mountainous borders with the Sultanate of Oman.The Ras Al KhaimahDepartment of Economic Development is the key government body issuing business licenses for resident companies in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.
Ras Al Khaimah thrives on a diversified economy with less reliance on oil or gas reserves. Though priority is given to developing Ras Al Khaimah’s mineral resources, massive investments are simultaneously made in local infrastructure to nurture critical exports. The Free Zones created by the Emirate offers one of the cost effective options of setting up business in the whole of UAE and hence makes the Emirate an attractive destination for start up enterprises. The foreign investors looking to study the UAE market through active participation choose Ras Al Khaimah as their favourable business destination. Ras Al Khaimah is just 45 minutes drive from Dubai, the emirate at the peak of economic boom, which adds to its attraction as business set up destination for market research. With energy and land costs over 25% less than neighbouring states, Ras Al Khaimah today has one of the most conducive business environments in the world.
The negligible deposits of hydrocarbon became a blessing in disguise for the emirate since this predicament forced the government to diversify the economy and make strategic plans to attract investments from all over the world. Although the drive to attract foreign companies has been a recent development, RAK has long been one of the industrial centres of the UAE. The industrial sector is dominated by the three main industries of Cement, Ceramics and Pharmaceuticals. The sector has diversified in the recent years especially since the creation of free zones as well as partnerships between government and foreign investors. The Emirate’s GDP components are varied with no one element exceeding more than 20% of total GDP. With strong GDP growth and sustainable economic development, Ras Al Khaimah is currently rated ‘A’ by both Fitch and Standard & Poors.
The international companies setting up in UAE can obtain following significant cost advantages not generally available internationally. Ras Al Khaimah being one of the Emirates comprising UAE therefore offers the following incentives to the companies registered therein.
The businesses set up in Ras Al Khaimah enjoy immense logistics benefits from the well-planned network through road, sea and air. Ras Al Khaimah occupies a strategic location in the heart of the Middle East on the busy Strait of Hormuz and is the furthest north of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ras Al Khaimah International Airport operates passenger traffic to destinations across the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, India and the Far East. Saqr Port, located in the industrial area of Khor Khuwair, is the Emirate’s main port and, being only 100 Kilometres (60 miles) away from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, is the part of the UAE that is geographically closest to Iran. The Emirates Road passes through the emirates of Umm Al Quwain, Ajman and Sharjah and ends in Dubai, allowing journeys from Ras Al Khaimah to Dubai in less than 45 minutes.
Ras Al Khaimah is an Emirate with all business facilities available at rates more than 25% lower than other Emirates of UAE. For this reason, the Emirate is chosen for setting up by businesses of all sizes small, medium and large. Ras Al Khaimah is also a wise choice of business destination for investors deciding to test the waters before making huge investments in UAE. The Free Zones in Ras Al Khaimah – RAKIA and RAKFTZ – allow business registration at cost effective rates without insisting on office spaces, which gives an opportunity to investors to study the market at lower costs before expanding their business. The world-class infrastructure and logistics network in the Emirate provide all the advantages of a highly active business hub at low costs.
The companies in UAE are governed under Federal Law No (8) of 1934 or the Commercial Companies Law in the UAE issued by Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and published in the Official Gazette No 137 of April 1984. Therefore a reference to a company in Ras Al Khaimah always implies a UAE resident company registered with the Ras Al Khaimah Department of Economic Development subject to the laws of land of UAE. But there are also other options of setting up businesses in Ras Al Khaimah as non-resident companies that are subject to different rules and regulations. These options are (1) business registration in Free Zones and (2) business registration in Ras Al Khaimah Offshore Jurisdiction.
It is highly recommendable to hire business consultants to assign the business licensing process in Ras Al Khaimah since a consultant knows the exact place and person to be contacted at each phase of the process. Besides, interacting with people in UAE essentially requires knowledge on the country’s culture and citizens’ attitude. The assistance of an experienced business consultant is of immense help. Passing the responsibilities to a skilled consultant also relieves businessmen of the pressures involved and avoids inefficient usage of time.
A business license in Ras Al Khaimah is a certificate that permits a natural person or legal entity to practice a particular type of activity in line with the legal requirements and conditions relating to that particular activity in Ras Al Khaimah. The Ras Al Khaimah Department of Economic Development is the key government body issuing business licenses for resident companies in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. The Free Zone Authorities in Ras Al Khaimah – Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) and Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAKFTZ) – are the government bodies registering businesses with a non-resident legal status.
The primary step in setting up a business entity in Ras Al Khaimah is the selection of business activities. This is so because the other phases of business setting up including the selection of proper legal business structure and number of business licenses can be decided only based on the selected business activities. In Ras Al Khaimah, the RAK DED classifies business licenses mainly into commercial, industrial and occupational. The Free Zone licenses are classified into Commercial, General Trading, Consultancy / Services and Industrial.
The Free Zones in Ras Al Khaimah, like everywhere else in UAE, offers 100% ownership to foreign investors. Learn More About Licensing in Ras Al Khaimah Free Zones
A business can be operated from Ras Al Khaimah at costs lower by more than 25% compared to other highly business centred Emirates of UAE. At the same time, the infrastructural facilities of Ras Al Khaimah provide all operational advantages available to the other Emirates of UAE. The Emirates Road passes through the emirates of Umm Al Quwain, Ajman and Sharjah and ends in Dubai, allowing journeys from Ras Al Khaimah to Dubai in under 45 minutes. Saqr Port, located in the industrial area of Khor Khuwair, is the Emirate’s main port. Ras Al Khaimah International Airport operates passenger traffic to destinations across the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, India and the Far East. The Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) has set up Free Zone and Non-Free Zone industrial parks for the benefit of businesses seeking to engage in light, medium and heavy manufacturing activity.
The possibility of expanding business in any region depends on many factors like the growth in economy, pace of infrastructure development, diversification of investments and government policies. Though one of the smaller emirates, Ras Al Khaimah has always held a position of significance. In the past, due to its strategic geographical location, it was a centre of traditional shipbuilding and trade and more recently, it has become a centre of quarrying, manufacturing and tourism. Ras Al Khaimah has ambitious plans for future betting on its vast industrial space, strategic location and low energy costs. The Emirate conducted intensive feasibility study on economic performance in different countries and found industries having potential in Ras Al Khaimah, which includes manufacturing, tourism, hospitality, aviation, financial services, education and health. The intelligent investment of the emirate in its already plentiful resources of minerals has become the corner stone of RAK’s ceramics, cement and building materials industry. Ras Al Khaimah has also invested in India, United States and Indonesia to generate revenue for development of the Emirate.
The investment and expansion plans implemented by the Ras Al Khaimah in infrastructure development have already started producing significant results. Different organizations have been formed and entrusted with implementing the development plans of Ras Al Khaimah. RAK Properties and the Al Hamra Group are two leading property development companies in the Emirate, being responsible for the successful development of the Al Hamra Village and Mina Al Arab developments respectively. Ras Al Khaimah’s rapidly developing tourism industry has resulted in the Emirate partnering with a number of leading hotel operators such as Hilton, Banyan Tree and Rotana to manage some of the Emirate’s world class hotels. The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) is mandated to develop and promote the Emirate’s tourism infrastructure both domestically and abroad, and to establish the Emirate as a premier affordable luxury destination for leisure, adventure and business travel.