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RAK’s economic structure is the most diversified

RAK’s economic structure is the most diversified



Set for big growth

The northern emirate of the UAE is expected to be bolstered by continued spending on infrastructure projects as a countermeasure to the economic slowdown

September 2017

If the UAE is still navigating the choppy economic waters of low oil prices better than its GCC neighbours, it’s because of a rock-solid fiscal position and a relatively diversified economy. One of the pillars contributing to the country’s growth is Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), the fourth largest and northern most emirate of the country, which has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years.

Industry analysts say the diversity of RAK’s economy is helping it to weather the downturn caused by the oil price crash. Although the northern emirate has not totally escaped the effects of the spending brakes applied by the UAE and other regional governments because of lower oil and gas revenues, it will be bolstered by continued spending on infrastructure projects as a countermeasure to the economic slowdown.

Last year, RAK’s economy grew 3.1 per cent as compared to 4.6 per cent in 2015, according to the government. The gross domestic product (GDP) of the UAE emirate reached Dh35.1 billion in 2016, according to a report by the Ras Al Khaimah Department of Economic Development.

In late 2016, Fitch Ratings affirmed RAK’s long-term rating at A. However, in January 2017, it affirmed its rating for RAK at A/A-1 with a stable outlook and said it expected growth to increase to about 3 per cent in the coming years, owing to the rise in business activity ahead of the Expo 2020 in Dubai and capital spending in the GCC region. The agency forecasts annual growth of 4 per cent between 2016 and 2018, compared with the International Monetary Fund’s April forecast for the UAE as a whole of 2.8 per cent over the same period.

 

TOURISM BECKONS

RAK is among the smallest emirates in the federation, with a population of about 300,000. Located strategically within proximity to several major routes and demand generators and only 45 minutes from Dubai International Airport, the emirate is renowned for its unique topography and landscapes from the highest mountain in the UAE, terracotta deserts to lush mangroves, white sandy beaches and the longest stretch of coastline in the UAE.

Pertinently then, tourism is one of RAK’s most important economic sectors and is considered a key engine for continued GDP growth and job creation. In 2015, RAK welcomed 740,383 visitors and recorded a 13 per cent rise in total tourism revenues.

As the emirate continues expansion plans to meet its growth targets, several large-scale developments have been announced which are expected to raise its tourism profile and further build its position as a leading leisure destination.

 

INDUSTRY AS A MAINSTAY

With full support from the government, the private sector plays a leading role in the local economy and is characterised by its specialisation and success in specific business activities, particularly the industrial field. Major exports include ceramic tiles (RAK Ceramics is the world›s largest ceramics producer), medicines, cement, crushed rocks, and fish.

GDP figures have been characterised by strong growth in recent years, especially in manufacturing, services and tourism sectors. This has been accompanied by an increase in foreign trade and per capita income, as well as a rise in the standard of living, growth in education and development of world-class housing and health-care facilities. RAK is a frontrunner and pacesetter in the Middle East investment race.

Today, the emirate is home to the Masafi, one of the country’s largest water companies, and concentrates on developing its industrial sector. The first cement company – Union Cement Company – in the emirate was opened in the 1970s and is now the UAE’s largest producer of cement. In the 1980s, the emirate formed RAK Ceramics, which has become the world’s largest ceramics producer, and Julphar, the Gulf region’s first pharmaceuticals company.




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