Envisioning RAK

Lot more colourful
In public perception, Ras Al Khaimah has mostly been associated with industry in the past, the reason being the emirate’s rich natural resources, which help sustain many types of industries. In this respect, RAK might well be considered the regional headquarters of some industries, such as cement and ceramics. But of late, there is a certain discernible change in perception. As the emirate’s economy develops in various directions, there is a simultaneous growth of the market for goods and services. This is indicated by a steady flow of brands to Ras Al Khaimah and these include consumer brands, shopping malls, hospitality players and even lifestyle and healthcare providers, not to leave out amusement parks. Some of the recent entrants to the emirate include retailers such as Centrepoint and lifestyle players such as VLCC. Also, there is a consistent addition to the emirate’s shopping infrastructure, with a number of new malls in line to open outlets. On the heavier side, you have names like Ashok Leyland, the leading bus and truck manufacturer from India, which has set up its first overseas bus assembly unit in the emirate. The continuing trend reinforces Ras Al Khaimah’s confidence as one of the most favoured emerging destinations for investments.

MANAGING EDITOR K Raveendran PUBLISHER & MANAGING DIRECTOR Sankaranarayanan GENERAL MANAGER Radhika Natu Loft Office 2, G 01, Dubai Media City P.O. Box 500595, Dubai, UAE. Website: www.sterlingp.ae Email: info@sterlingp.ae India: Anand Vardhan, DII/89, Pandara Road, New Delhi 110003. Bahrain: Suniz Publication W.L.L., P.O.Box. 2114, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain. Tel: 00973 17276682. Printing: Asiatic Printing Press L.L.C., PB 3522, Ajman, UAE. Tel: 06 743 4221. Fax: 06 743 4223. www.asiaticpress.com, Email: asiatic@eim.ae Distribution UAE: Dar Al Hikma Tel: 04 2665394, Fax: 04 2669827 Sultanate of Oman: Al-Atta’s Distribution Est. Kuwait: The Kuwaiti Group for Publishing & Distribution Co. Bahrain: Al Hilal Corporation Qatar: Dar Al-Thaqafah Saudi Arabia: Saudi Distribution Company EDITOR Manju Ramanan DESK EDITOR Vanit Sethi CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Linda Benbow DESIGN Ujwala Ranade PHOTOGRAPHS SALES AND MARKETING Account Managers Rashmi Pai Accounts & Administration Biju Varghese Circulation Supervisors Ibrahim A. Hameed

ravi@sterlingp.ae sankar@sterlingp.ae radhika@sterlingp.ae manju@sterlingp.ae vanit@sterlingp.ae linda@sterlingp.ae ujwala.art@gmail.com Sagar, Ibrahim


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Page 8

Cover Story
RAK Calling......

The B(r)andwagon
Page 14 Page 28

Economy Headed North
Cost-effective RAK

Real Victories

The real estate scene in RAK is happening

Page 20

The Future is Now

Page 38

Interview with Oussama El Omari, CEO, RAKFTZ

Never Ever Give Up
Page 40

Rizwan Sajan, Chairman, Danube, on his mantra of success

Page 22

Winning Streak

Dr Khater Massaad, CEO, RAKIA, on the steady progress of the emirate

Page 44

Page 46

RAK on a Roll
Page 24 Page 50

Union Cement celebrates 35 years


Signature of Trust
RAK Industries offers energy efficient switchgear panels and world class HVAC ducts for commercial building projects, industrial plants, healthcare facilities, hospitality and entertainment venues, retail locations and all types of residential complexes, from high rise towers to villas, across the UAE

P.O. Box 14521, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, Tel: + 971-7-2445310, Fax: + 971-7-2444653 Email: office@rakindustries.net - Website: www.rakindustries.net






RAK Calling
8 2
an emirate that had to drive all the way to Dubai or Abu Dhabi to shop for brands, a slew of brands have opened shop in the RAK neighbourhood. Across various sectors, be it food chains, retail outlets, lifestyle shops, cosmetics – RAK is now a fertile ground for them all, because it offers a great market for its current population and will address the needs of its fast- growing future population. With real estate units at Al Marjan islands, Mina Al Arab, and Al Hamra completing and getting in residents, the brands bandwagon is only predicted to increase. Some of the recent additions to the brands at RAK are Danube, Landmark, VLCC and Dabur, to name a few. These have been successful, popular and well-received. What’s more, a couple of them are planning to get their subsidiaries to RAK

The emirate has attracted some well-known international brands


as well as expand or refurbish existing older branches. While some of these companies have set up base within RAK’s two free zones, others are located outside the free zone areas. It is also true that a handful more of well-known companies are registered in the various free zones of RAK, but operate outside the emirate. Retailers who have opened shop in RAK find the climate similar to the other emirates in terms of shopping, while investors find the emirate cost-effective and easy to do business. Shoppers are most delighted. “We have a growing number of brands in RAK, we don’t have to go all the way to Dubai and Abu Dhabi to shop like we did in the past. A few years ago, we could say that food chain brands came to RAK, now, with the opening of branded lifestyle stores and retail

outlets, we have them all in the RAK neighbourhood. This shows that the emirate is growing,” says Hadeel Mhanna, a RAK resident since childhood, who is elated at the progress in the emirate. “Locals like to go brand shopping and now we have more brands to choose from right here. Also brands bring in their own lifestyles,” she adds. Dr Bhushan Sainani, General Manager of Uniestate, who has moved to RAK from Sharjah, doesn’t miss the bustle of his earlier home. “Nearly all the brands are now available at RAK. I don’t even go to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It has the perfect blend of a restful place surrounded by natural beauty and the best of what Dubai and Abu Dhabi can offer. We have a number of food and clothing brands at the Manar Mall as well as the Al Hamra Mall that keep us in RAK now,” he adds.

For the lifestyle stores that have set up base in RAK, the emirate’s relaxed environment is conducive to shopping and leisure. “It is idyllic, has an old world charm about it and yet is quite contemporary, which is a good combination. People have the time to indulge and shop at leisure,” says Vinod Talreja, CEO, Babyshop from Landmark Group. The new Centrepoint store at RAK, opposite the Cove Rotana Hotel (yet another hotel brand that moved to RAK), is sprawled over an area of 65,000 sq ft, stocking a diverse portfolio of brands such as Babyshop, Shoe Mart, Splash, Beautybay, and Lifestyle, as well as an unending array of in-house and international brands. It is doing good business and attracting a new set of clientele, while their first store, located in the Al Nakheel area,

has not recorded any real drop in footfall. “This goes to prove how RAK is a great platform to showcase midmarket brands. We are expecting more business once the developments at Al Marjan, Mina Al Arab and Al Hamra are fully completed, because RAK has a sizeable number of foreign tourists, apart from the regular customer base that consists of locals and expatriates”. His group is also planning to refurbish

the store at Nakheel as well as launch another brand in the emirate. “We shall also shortly launch Shoe Express in RAK, a value-for-money division within our flagship brand Shoemart. Shoe Express will be a standalone store outside the two Centrepoint stores in the emirate,” he adds. He finds the RAK market has potential, is cost-effective, and has the same kind of eagerness and enthusiasm towards retail shopping as other emirates. VLCC, the region’s preventive healthcare services and beauty brand has opened its 10th branch in Al Nakheel area. The 13th addition to its regional network, the company has devised weight management and health experience, both for residents and tourists of RAK. As Mukesh Luthra,

9 3


Chairman, VLCC, states, “Owing to a higher standard of living in RAK, we observed a crucial need for a reliable solution that provides holistic health and complete wellness, which the VLCC helps address.” The VLCC opened new centres in Al Ain and Bahrain, which is now followed by the RAK centre and their second outlet in Muscat. The group has now earmarked Dh200million to fund this intensive expansion plan, which includes new VLCC centres in Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Muscat and Bahrain, besides forays into Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other countries in the MENA region. In the RAKIA free zone at Al Hamra, Dabur -- India’s fourth largest FMCG company - has a manufacturing unit called Dabur Naturelle. Dabur has its operations in healthcare, personal care and food products, with a portfolio of household brand names like Amla, Vatika, Chyawanprash, Hajmola, Lal Dantmanjan, Babool, Nature Care, and Pudin Hara. With an office already in Jebel Ali, Dubai, and Sharjah, the group started the manufacturing unit at the Al Hamra free zone in RAK. Dabur Naturelle has an estimated investment between $5-10 million, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary under Dabur International. While the new unit caters to the GCC markets, Dabur -- which has manufacturing units in Cairo -- covers the US and Australia market. After Dabur took over Weikfield’s international business in 1999 since starting off in the UAE in 1992, the company planned for a factory-scale operation rather than a warehouse, and for this, it chose Ras Al Khaimah. The ground-breaking ceremony of Naturelle happened in

June 2007, and the actual construction started in July the same year. By July 2008, production had already begun. Enhancing the building material industry of the emirate is Danube that opened ‘Buildmart’ opposite the Rotana Hotel. Inaugurated by Sheikh Omar bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the Dh75 million Buildmart, is a state-of-the-art retail complex, addressing the building material needs of customers. Rizwan Sajan, Chairman, Danube, had always thought of expansion into RAK, but space was a constraint. “We received the support of Sheikh Omar, Chairman of the RAK Bank, who helped us set up the facility here,” he states. Ask him whether the current financial crisis has had an effect on his company and its expansion plans, he answers in the negative. “RAK continues to be a prime venue for economic activity and development, with some of the UAE’s largest projects under construction. This, in addition to projections of over 111,000 residential units slated for delivery within Dubai and Abu

Dhabi by 2011, has prompted us to take strategic steps to address the increased demand from homeowners as well as interior design specialists for top quality building materials across the UAE,” he states. The launch of Buildmart follows Danube’s recent expansion through two new state-of-the-art facilities in Ajman and Al Quoz, wherein the company has invested a total of Dh55 million to address the demand for top-quality materials in the region. To address the tourist sector, RAK has an array of well-known names that have set up base in the emirate. While Hilton RAK has been in the emirate for several years, recently the New Hilton Beach Resort and Spa made its mark in the emirate’s landscape. Two of its other properties, the Hilton Mina Al Arab, a 400-room hotel and the 112-room Hilton Doubletree Suites in the Nakheel area, are being built. The Intercontinental Hotel is also coming up in the Mina Al Arab development that is being built by RAK Properties. The Cove Rotana opened last year and the Banyan

Tree Al Wadi this year. In addition to this, Banyan Tree’s beach villas at Al Hamra are ready and there are plans to open a resort at Jebel Jais too. These hotels add value to the emirate that already has its own brands like the Al Hamra Palace Hotel coming up in September 2010 and the newly opened Acacia Business Hotel. Geneva-based Swiss Hospitality Holding has started work on the Alps Hotel, its first hotel in the Middle East, in Ras Al Khaimah. The hotel is franchised to UniEstate, a real estate subsidiary of the Union Group of Companies. Swiss Hospitality Holding plans to open 20 hotels in the GCC at a total cost of $100m. In addition to this, within the malls in the emirate, are various clothing and apparel stores as well as food joints that have a sizeable presence everywhere in the UAE. Supermarkets Spinneys and Carrefour for instance, have a significant presence in RAK. By next year, Carrefour has plans to open another supermarket behind the Centrepoint Store near the Emirates Road. TECHNOGYM is yet another brand that has found favour in RAK. The world’s leading Wellness Company, has installed equipment at several

significant properties in the emirate including the Al Hamra Palace Hotel. The company has been the leading provider of premium fitness appliances in Middle East, Europe, Asia and South America, and among the top three in the world, has equipped in the team base, a stateof-the-art gymnasium with equipments for strength, resistance, co-ordination and flexibility training. As for banks, nearly all banks of the UAE are present in RAK -- the HSBC and Bank of Baroda being one of the first ones. In fact, for the past 33 years, Bank of Baroda has been part of the life and times of Ras Al Khaimah. In this

In addition, it has two customer service centres at Jebel Ali, Mussaffa and Abu Dhabi and 21 ATMs at various strategic locations. Supporting RAK’s industrial growth and overall economic development, it has granted financial support to many new or existing units, apart from extending its banking services to the people of the emirate. In the past two years, the bank, has sanctioned loans of over Dh1 billion to the corporates in RAK. Some of its major companies include RAK Ceramics, JBF RAK, RAK Minerals, Al Hamra Power Project, Al Hamra Real Estate, Prime Builders, Electro


country for the last 35 years, it has over 125,000 customers and six branches – two in Dubai and one each in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Al Ain.

RAK etc. To facilitate entrepreneurs and investors in RAK and to support its new industries, the bank has entered into a Memorandum of Cooperation with RAKIA, and is considering financing new viable units coming up in RAKIA on a priority basis.

RAK Hospital
This state-of-the-art healthcare facility

is set up by the Government of Ras Al Khaimah and ETA Star group of Dubai as a 50:50 joint venture. Opened in 2007, the hospital is a 65-bed multispecialty private hospital, managed by Sonnenhof Swiss Health (SSH), a leading name in healthcare and hospitality. The strategic tie-up between SSH and ETA Star Healthcare has been established to provide the highest

quality in medical and nursing care. The facility has been designed as a premium healthcare complex by the US-based Ellerbe Becket of Mayo Clinic repute. The only healthcare organisation in the world that has received accreditations from both the Joint Commission International (JCI) and the Swiss Leading Hospitals (SLH), which is based on the standards of European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM), RAK Hospital joins an exclusive group of hospitals worldwide, having passed JCI’s stringent clinical quality standards. JCI is the international arm of the Joint Commission Accreditation of Healthcare Organisations (JCAHO). As Raza Siddiqui, Executive Director, RAK Hospital states, “The JCI and SLH Accreditation is a recognition of our commitment to provide international quality healthcare at an affordable price with premium hospitality.”

Home-grown brands
RAK is the largest producer of cement in the Gulf with a number of cement companies dotting its limestone rich Hajjar mountains. The wealth of its mountains also yield raw material for other products, that are now synonymous with RAK. The seven cement companies the emirates has are Union Cement, Gulf Cement, RAK Cement Company, Gulf Cement, Pioneer Cement Industries, Star Cement, RAK White Cement Company etc. The other growing in popularity RAK companies are Chocolat, the Swiss chocolate making unit at Al Hamra; and the Emirates Pearl Manufacturing Company, with an office at Al Nakheel. But the most known RAK brands are: The world’s largest manufacturer of ceramic tiles, the company has entered into the curriculae of universities as a success story since it scaled the pinnacle of success in very little time. It is included in the list of superbrands and owes its success to the vision of Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al


Khaimah as well as its dynamic CEO, Dr Khater Massaad, and his team. The original vision of the founders, backed by solid perseverance, was to set up a successful ceramic tile and sanitaryware manufacturing company that would meet world standards for quality and beauty. What first started production in 1991 has, over the past decade, progressed with giant strides to be a world-class organisation, and among the top ceramic manufacturing organisations in the world. A jewel in the manufacturing sector of the entire Middle East, it achieved remarkable success within 19 years. RAK Ceramics is an ISO 9001: 2008 & ISO 14001: 2004 certified organisation. The Ras Al Khaimah plants alone produce around 227,000 sq. mt. of tiles per day and over 8,500 pieces of sanitaryware per day. Considering the company’s overseas plants in several other countries like China, Sudan, Bangladesh, India and Iran, the global production of tiles is over 360,000 sq.mt. of tiles per day and over 11,500 pieces of sanitaryware per day, making RAK Ceramics one of the largest multinationals in the world manufacturing ceramic & porcelain tiles and sanitaryware. The mineral water company from RAK was established in 1976 and has an ISO 9002 certification as well as ISO 9001:2000 certification for developing and maintaining a High Standard Quality Management System as well as the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) certification. A member of the International Bottled Water Association as well as Asia Bottled Water Association, Masafi Water is tested and approved by NSF International. The UAE is heavily dependent on desalinated water to meet its daily requirement of water in the region and is the second largest producer of desalinated water in the world. It is estimated that ground water resources meet 30 per cent of drinking water requirements in the UAE or of which Masafi is a very well-known brand. Bottled in the Masafi water plant, Masafi water passes through the Masafi water aquifiers and exchanges minerals with the aquifier rocks and collects salts, ions and minerals

that enrich it. The largest pharmaceutical and drug manufacturing company in the Middle East region, Jul-

phar was established 28 years ago. Originally called the Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries, Julphar manufactures medicines, drugs and various other types of pharmaceuticals and medicines, compounds such as analgesics, antihistamines, cough and cold preparations and vitamins. It was established in the year 1980 under the able guidance of His Highness Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. Since its inception, Julphar has grown into a world-class, state-of-the-art pharmaceutical manufacturing company of the Arab world. Julphar not only has the

distinction of being the first pharmaceutical manufacturing company in Arab Gulf states, but is also noteworthy for being the only pharmaceutical manufacturer of its scale and size in the UAE. In November 1984, Julphar launched its first commercial product. Since then, it has traversed on the path of progress at a brisk pace. Starting with a single plant and delivering a few pharmaceutical products in the local market, Julphar has rapidly moulded itself into a true multinational organisation with a worldwide trade network. With nine production plants located in UAE and its products being marketed across the globe in over 45 countries across five continents, Julphar has truly become a representative of UAE’s entrepreneurial capabilities. Julphar has more than 800 formulations and 184 brands under its flag with products in every major therapeutic category. Julphar’s product range includes analgesics, anti-malarial, antibiotic, anti- amoebic, anthelmintics, antihistamines, vitamins and steroids.

A number of universities have set up in RAK that are brands in their own right. The foremost being the American University of Ras Al Khaimah, Pune University from India, the University of Bolton from UK, The EPLF, Ecole Polytechnique, University of Lausanne from Switzerland.


Investment Hub


Economy headed north
RAK has conditioned its climate for attracting various businesses


of the basic necessities to set up an enterprise is costeffectiveness. RAK has been successful with its investors – even in the current climate -- due to the fact that it is cost-effective. Its free zones, (RAK has two of them – RAK Free Trade Zone was established in the year 2000, and RAKIA free zone in 2005) have brought

in a host of companies to its shores that make it a one-stop destination for the investor. According to the Chamber of Commerce, Government of Ras Al Khaimah, the total number of registered companies at the end of December 2009 stood at 21,609 compared to 19,697 in 2008 and 17,840 in 2007. The total number of licences for both the

free zones and industrial zones were 2,368 by October 2009. The project costs for setting up a new factory in RAK is said to be about 20 to 25 per cent less compared to other destinations on account of better logistics, no duties and overheads or costs incurred in bureaucratic delays. The potential investor to RAK does

not encounter the stress of making the rounds of several government departments to sort out his papers to start an enterprise. The free zones have structured themselves to suit him, his time and his needs to help him start work quickly and efficiently. The emirate’s economic model operates on an increased partnership between the private and public sectors, and its portfolio is diversified. RAK has business interests in various kinds of industries (its strong point), manufacturing units, trading, logistics, tourism, agriculture and real estate. RAK’s stability and growth in 2009 owes everything to sound economic planning. A government statement pointed to the emirate’s development of its manufacturing sector last year, part of a long-term policy aimed at diversifying the economy that has resulted in industry contributing more than eight per cent to RAK’s GDP. “This policy, bolstered by state incentives and the establishment of dedicated industrial zones, has made a number of manufacturers in RAK, sectoral leaders in the region and beyond,” said the statement. Ras Al Khaimah’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) currently stands at $2.52 billion, having grown by more than 50 per cent over the last four years. The significant growth has been attributed to the increased focus on sectors such as manufacturing, services, real estate, construction and tourism. The low cost of doing business at RAK has prompted FDI Magazine of Financial Times, London, to rate the emirate as the most cost-effective destination to do business in the region. Spearheading its growth is its able Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler, HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, who, after his accession, has been

instrumental in modifying its policies at the administrative, legal and other levels, to promote new investments and facilitate businesses. About five years ago, Sheikh Saud had asked the World Bank to conduct a comprehensive study on the foreign investment avenues available in the emirate as part of its master development plan in a conference titled Invest and Live in Ras Al Khaimah, that outlined sector-wise developmental initiatives taken by the government for achieving rapid growth and development. It included an extensive infrastructure improvement programme, expansion of the capacities

of sea ports, private and public sector partnership in the healthcare sector, development of the tourism sector to make it a premier tourist destination by tapping the emirate’s distinct cultural heritage, its rich repository of natural resources -- the deserts, mountain ranges, hot water springs, fertile plains and the pristine beaches. Today, Sheikh Saud’s plans are yielding results. There has been a sustainable growth in the emirate in manufacturing, services and tourism sectors, and considerable rise in living standards and per capita income. Much of the development in RAK is due to its free zones, which have between them 15 years of track record. RAKFTZ is home to more than 4,000 active companies. The zone was able to accomplish more than it set out to do and continued to enjoy a steady increase in new company registrations and revenue, which grew by 10 and 11 per cent respectively, as compared to 2008. Of the total of 1,935 new company registrations in 2009, India led the way, with 37


RAK’s infrastructure complements its cost effectiveness


per cent new companies registered, followed by UK, with 12 per cent. In the Middle East, Egypt topped the list of new registrations, with six per cent. The activities of the companies doing business in the free zone could be divided along the following sectors – 64 per cent trading with warehousing facilities, 26 per cent consulting and services, 3 per cent industrial, and 7per cent general trading. On the other hand, the RAKIA’s free zones, industrial parks and offshore facilities as well as real estate developments and other ventures announced that 2009 was a prosperous year with 880 onshore and 885 offshore licences issued. In terms of the onshore licences, 35 per cent were achieved in the fourth quarter alone, when considerable growth was observed, which – as seen from the January and February 2010 results -- is expected to continue. The investment attracted came mainly from UAE (14%), Middle East (15 per cent), Europe (24%), India (26 per cent), Asia (9 per cent), US and CIS countries. Additionally, the RAKIA established RAKOffshore and the International Business Company (IBC)

concept -- a move designed to address the growing demand for offshore markets, while also complementing the emirate’s ongoing economic diversification programme, which has pulled in 2,500 companies. The free zones have brought in a multicultural crowd to RAK, and as Oussama El Omari, Chairman of the RAKFTZ states, have integrated the investor into the community. “When an investor comes to RAK to set up business, he shouldn’t feel alienated but be embraced by the diversity around. The more multicultural a people are, the more open minded they become. By getting people from across the world, free zones facilitate that openness,” he states. At RAKFTZ, we believe in a personal approach, getting close to the clients, understanding their business and related needs.” Another major aspect is innovation. “We always go by ‘what is the feel of the client?’, ‘how can we help them’, ‘how can we think of solutions for them.’ By constantly innovating on better services to our clients, we have been successful in our endeavours. Businesses need costs,

clients, leads etc, and our core strength is helping our clients. For us, the entire process is akin to watching a baby grow - till it is independent to be on its own,” he adds. Dr Khater Masssad, CEO RAKIA, attributes the emirate’s development to the visionary leadership of Sheikh Saud, who allows very favourable conditions for setting up a business in the emirate. “The procedures are clear and easy, licences can be issued in one hour’s time, without hassle or bureaucracy,” he states. He too states that personalised and flexible service have been the tenets of the zone that constantly strives to fulfil all customers’ business requirements in the best possible way. “Our time to complete a project from zero date to a fully operating factory has been around 8 to 12 months in RAK. In all other countries, it has taken at least 14 to 16 months for construction alone, not including time to go through the torturous process to get possession of land,” he states. Apart from an array of supportive infrastructure, the two zones constantly add on to their facilities to lure new businesses and service existing ones. The recently opened RAK Business Centre in the RAKIA precincts provides a unique and comfortable workplace environment for companies. In addition to a furnished office or shared desk, they get a professional address for your mail, and a professional answering service for phone calls. A large reception area greets employees and clients, and access to large or small conference rooms — providing the perfect space for presentations and meetings. The RAKFTZ, on the other hand, is a well-wired zone too, constantly innovating the way it services its customers. Recently, it launched a German desk to cater to its German investors. The RAKFTZ has

a nursery that provides for working mothers of the zone as well as a press room for journalists, apart from its array of facilities. “When we look back, we know that we took the right decision,” says A Subba Rao, Senior Manager Projects - Dabur Naturelle, a company from the Al Hamra free zone of RAKIA. The ground breaking ceremony of Naturelle took place in June 2007 and the actual construction started in July the same year, and by July 2008, production had already begun. By September, they were already reaching the first year rated report. Knauf, the leading producers of building materials worldwide, celebrated a local milestone with a topping ceremony located at the RAKFTZ Industrial Park. The Knauf RAK investment is worth Dh500 million, the biggest investment in RAK FTZ and their finishing their steel construction on schedule is a great indicator that the companies within RAK FTZ are recovering from the effects of the global economy. RAK has earned an ‘A’ long-term and ‘A-1’ short-term sovereign credit rating by Standard & Poor’s ratings services that added that the outlook for the emirate is stable. The ratings on the emirate rest primarily on the inter-governmental relationships within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the likelihood of extraordinary support in the event of financial difficulties. Standard & Poor noted that individual emirates, including RAK, have limited expenditure obligations that are primarily related to local infrastructure, capital spending to develop emiratelevel projects and funding to service debts. The ratings agency also suggested that RAK’s growth prospects ‘appear robust’, observing that the

overhaul of economic strategy since the appointment of Sheikh Saud as Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler in 2003, had resulted in a substantial rise in investment and a diversification of the emirate’s economic base. In terms of logistics, RAK has Saqr Port with its 12 berths, eight of which are owned by the government handling bulk cargo and the rest four privately operated by KGL that serves as a container terminal as well as the Al Jazirah Port -- a port for bulk handling. The Al Jazeera Port will shortly open its Dh150 million dry docks facility, while the Al Jeer Port located towards the Oman border, is the Gulf’s only specialist livestock port. In addition, the government identified extensive business infrastructure investments such as those for updating the port of Mina Saqr that will allow a 400 per cent increase in cargo-handling capacity. It was also suggested that the emirate has been capitalising on its natural attractions, including mountains, beaches and archaeological sites, in order to develop its tourism sector. “We might have had a slowdown,
Saqr Port

but we do not have a crisis like other markets around the world. We expect business to improve in 2009 and to achieve growth in 2010.” HE Sheikh Omar bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of RAK Bank highlighted RAK tourism and industry as the main factors in the expected boost to the emirate’s economy and suggested that the financial downturn of recent months had stabilised the market representing the region as an attractive investment proposition: “The year, 2009 has been a correction year, which brought the economy to an acceptable level. Now, there is much potential for serious investors to look again and invest in the emirates.” says Sheikh Omar. The Ras Al Khaimah Airport with its 3,760m runway, ILS and all navigation facilities, is fully equipped to handle passenger flights and cargo. In terms of the road network, in addition to the existing Emirates Road, there are various other projects in the pipeline. The Dh1 billion RAK ring road is expected to divert the flow of heavy geared vehicles off RAK’s regular roads. The first phase is expected to be complete in 2010 and the second phase by 2015.


Cost Consciousness
up to meet the growing demand of budget hotels in the emirate, Uniestate, the real estate wing of Union International Holdings Group, has tied up with Swiss Hospitality Holdings Group, Switzerland, to build a chain of the Alps Hotels starting from RAK. The first hotel, coming up near the Department of Economic Development’s main office at Al Nakheel, has started the groundwork and construction shall begin this year. Another hotel is slated in the Al Marjan islands off the coast of RAK near the Jazirat Al Hamra area. “We expect to open 10 Alps Hotels in the next five years,” says Mahesh Ram, Vice- Chairman – Strategic Committee, Union International Holdings Group. He states that 3-5 hotels will be owned by the group while the others will be franchises. “There are several five-star properties in RAK and while they cater to a niche segment of the population, for middle-level executives and employ-

Catering to middle-income groups, be it travelling executives or families on a budget holiday, the upcoming Alps Hotel, is timely and much awaited. So is the UIHD group’s sewage treatment plant facility that aims to get sewage treatment and the associate sustainable technology to homes
international expectations. We will give 4-star services in a 3-star hotel – since the very basic tenet of this venture is cost-effectiveness,” states Ram, who comes with a vast experience at setting up, restructuring and re-planning companies in India in the cities of Bangalore, Bihar, Kolkata and Mumbai, before he arrived in the UAE, 15 years ago, as consultant to an Indian project in RAK. While the project that he was associated with wasn’t feasible, a chance meeting with HE Sheikh Tariq Al Qasimi, Chairman of Union Group convinced him that his own talents would be best put to use in RAK with the Union Group. “I stayed on and my association with the group has continued all these 15 years,” he states. “At that time, Time Travel, that belongs to the company, was the only one that used to bring inbound tourists to RAK from European countries. They arrived in chartered flights,” he states. A story that continues till date,


Mahesh Ram

ees looking for budget places to stay, there aren’t too many options. Yes, there are service apartments run by families that offer bed and breakfast options, but don’t meet international expectations. Also, several 3-4 star hotels are there that don’t usually meet

albeit differently, with the emirate calling tourism a very viable industry. “Tourists are of all kinds. And Ras Al Khaimah beckons a lot of investors who are looking for long-term stay at cheaper options. With tariff at the Alps Hotel expected to be as low as Dh275 per night, this segment will be greatly benefited,” he states. Also, the hotel is located in the vicinity of the RAKFTZ and in close proximity to the Manar Mall – both much frequented destinations. “Our prices will be standardised, so you don’t have to worry about seasonal rates and rates that depend on tourist traffic,” adds Ram. And what will be the facilities? “Comfortable rooms, good services, clean and catering to international standards, our USP is our location, that is at the heart of the city,” he adds. As for food, yes, there will be a restaurant but something that offers a basic fare, not a gourmet one, keeping the costs affordable.

The Alps Hotel at Al Marjan islands will again follow the same budget hotel model. “There too, we shall be located in the midst of properties that are 5-star or more. We will be a budget hotel there and so, can expect high occupancy there,” he states. Apart from the hotel at Al Marjan, the group is planning a real estate project that will managed by Swiss Hospitality Holdings. Yet another venture by the company is sewage treatment for individual villas and small homes. This is targeted at homes that don’t have the facilities and those that do have them but can learn to manage sewage in a sustainable manner. How? “If you install these systems, they will undergo treatment and the water can be reused for landscaping use and is even fit for drinking. This is, in a way, privatising sewage treatment,” he states. But that work is already being

done by the municipality? “Yes, but there is always scope for us. When RAK started laying sewage pipeline, four years ago, a major part of the emirate was covered. But the emirate has also witnessed unprecedented growth and we address the sector that hasn’t been covered,” he states. For instance, if someone spends Dh1 million in a villa, they spend 250,000 for a sewage treatment plant – the water becomes recyclable and can be reused. This is a permanent solution – also it saves the cost that you pay to buy water, pay for its transport to the sewage treatment plant etc. In short, it is empowering the resident with technology that he/she can use. “Our philosophy has been cost-effectiveness and aimed at giving value to the customer. Our focus is on costs, so that we can sell at reasonable prices. We do a lot of value engineering,” he adds.



The Future’s Now
The first free zone of RAK, the RAKFTZ, has successfully completed 10 years. A zone integrated into the emirate’s fabric, enriching its population with diverse investments from across the world, now looks forward to the future with a fresher perspective, which entails careful thought and the magic word ‘Innovation’!




passé. What is important is innovation,” states Oussama El Omari, CEO of the RAKFTZ who feels that the current economic crisis has bolstered thinking and been a boon in disguise. The reason why he feels 2009 has been the best year ever is because it has offered establishments the opportunity to reassess, rethink, restrategise and relook at policy matters, besides helping reshape perceptions about business as a whole. “The past year has separated people who live to work from those who work to live. We have had an opportunity to put brakes and organise ourselves once again, and in that way, turn our businesses around,” he states. According to El Omari, RAK will join the rest of the world in getting together for energy efficiency and discovering newer avenues to marry development with ecology. “Countries are working together in the fields of new energy sources like nuclear energy and cleaner environments, and not just talking of vertical development. It is the responsibility of larger enterprises like ours to cater to better living conditions within our businesses,” he states. And that role, according to him, is now being handled by small and medium enterprises, not the larger giants in the business. “We have many such companies in the free zones as well as those registered with us, but operating in other countries addressing this sector. They are the new energy companies, and -- quite like their names -- they have added a burst of energy to the business. These companies are registered

Oussama El Omari, CEO of the RAKFTZ

through our offices across the world in our satellite branches,” he states. El Omari observes that the warehouse

concept is getting redundant with various SMEs looking out for virtual concepts for offices. “We are prepared to adapt to the

new world economy. We are creating alliances with service companies like Servcorp, mutually benefiting both enterprises,” he states, adding that the traditional ways to do business have changed, and if we don’t innovate, it’s not possible to move ahead. “Innovation is the future, and RAKFTZ has that culture ingrained in its fabric,” he adds. Right from its inception, the zone has been spearheading various first-time initiatives in the emirate. “We are the first ones to set up business centres in Dubai, US, India, China, Turkey and Germany. Our future markets are Brazil, Russia, India, and China,” he adds. That way, people wanting to do business in RAK don’t need to come all the way here. They can register with one of our branches there, but get full access to our services here. It is the concept of virtual offices. “For a lot of businessmen, the UAE is a favoured destination because the licences we offer have a standing in the market. And with 10 years of experience, we have built a solid reputation. Also, our promotions and satellite offices across the world have managed to bridge the gap between businesses. You don’t have to be actually located here to do business with

projects happening in the UAE,” he states. But what about actual offices? “When we started out a decade ago, we questioned ourselves, how should we do something different? What is the vision we need to follow and attract what we want. HE Sheikh Faisal, who is the Chairman of the RAKFTZ, wanted to set up offices near the places people had businesses. So, we created a multiple side zone that is across the emirate and not restricted to a certain area. For instance, a company dealing with ports needs an office near the ports. We diversified the sites so that people working there save time at work – which is why we are called the ‘Home of Business’,” he adds. What were the initial businesses they started at the RAKFTZ? “In the year 2000, when we started out, the first and most basic thing we found missing were the service companies. For instance, if we needed to courier something, we had to call the courier services from Dubai. The same happened for related services like car rentals, auditing, logistics etc -- all of whom had to be called from Dubai,” he states. That is when the RAKFTZ decided to give subsidies to service companies to establish in RAK, so that the companies that would

come up later could avail of their services. “Investors would come and invest in RAK only if they were sure these services would be taken care of,” he states. Is there a certain model they followed when they started the zone? “We did our research by visiting various free zones, and then Sheikh Faisal laid down the objectives of the RAKFTZ, that included government empowerment with clear and easy laws to promote business, an enabling work environment, good management programmes targeted at customers, systems and procedures, and multicultural manpower”. Another important element is the presence of nationals, because they bring in a sense of community. The RAKFTZ has always vouched for a healthy multicultural community that it addresses. “Since our zones are spread out in different areas of RAK, people tend to live in areas near their workplaces. That helps them mingle with the community and people like themselves, instead of being insular. That has been our motto. We are looking to create world communities within RAK, whereby people understand each other’s unique cultures and flourish in a climate of mutual respect and openness.”



Winning Streak
Since its establishment in 2005, RAKIA (Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority) has seen steady growth and a large number of international companies setting up base in RAK. With over 6,000 onshore and off-shore licences issued by RAKIA in 2009, 2010 too promises to bring in its share of new ventures. Dr Khater Massaad, CEO, RAKIA, talks to RAK Today about the year that was and the years to come
What were the success stories of the emirate in 2009? The year 2009 was a banner year for RAK in terms of investment activities. The total number of licences issued by RAKIA in 2009 crossed over 6,000 – which includes offshore licences as well. Under RAKIA’s onshore division, there were 876 licences issued, representing a 28 per cent increase from 2008. The increase in licences was attributed to the significant increase in trading and light manufacturing activities during the year 2009. Trading businesses increased by 200 per cent in the year 2009 from the previous year. On the other hand, we have also witnessed a growth in investors from Europe, particularly from countries such as UK, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy and Austria. We are optimistic that this trend will be sustained as more investors and business organisations are becoming aware of the strategic advantages and the excellent investment climate in RAK. Accordingly, RAKIA has launched a new website and prepared various product brochures to reinforce our ongoing information campaign across target global markets. Based on the market intelligence from our peers across various EU and Asian countries, we are scheduling many roadshows to promote RAK to prospective investors. How many more companies will have registered under RAKIA by the end of 2010 and which are the major ones? Our latest statistics cited above reveal that a total of 265 licences were issued, which is an all-time record as compared to the similar period over since RAKIA’s inception in the year


Dr Khater Massaad, CEO, RAKIA

2005. This translates to an average of 88 licenses issued each month, which is actually better than the monthly average in 2009 of 73 licences. This validates our optimistic outlook this year wherein we target to attract more investors by focussing on previous untapped markets in Europe and also emerging economies like India and Pakistan. We expect a boost in the manufacturing licences this year as we have already seen increase in the number of industrial companies responding to our promotional campaigns and also scheduling visits to RAKIA. Some major companies registered or at the final stages of negotiations with RAKIA in the past three months includes SeAH Steel from Korea, ITW( US based, a Fortune 200 Company), Hitachi Engineering, Polytech Industries from India, Orient Energy from Pakistan are few among others. On the other hand, trading and consultation services appear to be the most attractive categories among foreign investors and we have accordingly prepared exciting offerings and dedicated infrastructure for investors in these segments. Despite the recession, RAK continues to attract a lot of investors? Why? It is a combination of business-friendly policies and world-class infrastructure that make RAK a favourite investment destination. We have developed fully equipped industrial plots with all facilities including a 64 MV captive power plant combined with our value-added services that help investors conveniently and quickly facilitate processes related to building permits, visas and other paperwork. Stability of energy supply and other utility services and the emirate’s highly strategic, centralised location have likewise made RAK an ideal business base, particularly for trading and manufacturing companies. Moreover, it is much more cost-effi-

cient to invest in RAK because of the wide range of business benefits and packages that we have lined up for both local and foreign investors. The Al Hamra area is well equipped with hotels, malls and the requisite infrastructure, what have you planned for the Al Ghail area that only has industries? The Al Hamra development started with the industrial activities initiated by Sheikh Saud by starting RAK Ceramics in a modest way 19 years ago. Today, it is the largest producer of ceramic tiles in the world. This was followed by the formation of RAKIA. Many large international companies were attracted and they are now active and producing goods that are exported all over the world. The Al Ghail area will likewise be expanded to offer a wider range of commercial, residential and industrial amenities which is part of the emirate’s long-term development strategy. In fact, we have recently installed a 64 MW captive power plant at the Al Ghail Industrial Park, that will enable us to cater to the expected increase in demand for power as investors and developers commence work on various projects. RAK has been aggressively promoting tourism. Do you see its infrastructure further improving, to be in tune with its tourism policy? Tourism is one of the emirate’s top non-oil revenue resources and we are currently expanding our tourism infrastructure as we expect tourist footfall in RAK to increase form 500,000 to around 2.5 million by 2013.Up to $10 billion in investment is allocated to various theme parks, resorts, hill stations and five and seven-star hotels - that will be implemented in the next few years. At the moment, our total hotel capacity is around 1,800 hotel rooms, with an average occupancy

rate of 90 per cent which will be significantly increased by up to 3,700 new rooms in the next few years. In line with the expected increase in the number of tourists and residents, the emirate is also building a wide array of apartments, commercial complexes, marinas, and golf courses and other sports facilities, world-class restaurants and shopping malls, to cater to the expanding needs of society. Another key growth area that we are focussing is ongoing infrastructure and real estate projects being undertaken are part of a long-term plan to establish RAK as a popular destination for tourists and business visitors alike. The RAK Government is also planning to build a hill resort that will be located 1,800 metres above the sea level in the peak called Jebel Jais. The infrastructure works are under progress and almost 80 per cent of the access road has been completed. What is the core strength of RAKIA’s philosophy that has helped it sail through the economic crisis? Keeping investors happy is the key. RAK has focussed on establishing a genuinely investor-friendly climate and this has helped the emirate maintain its economic stability through the constant influx of local and foreign investments. As you can see, the emirate’s business-friendly policies have contributed significantly in accelerating the growth of non-oil industries and sustained the government’s economic diversification programme. As mentioned earlier, we issued the most number of business licences in 2009, and at a time when other economies were facing difficulties, we were attracting local and foreign investors. This clearly shows the success of RAKIA’s growth strategy and its impact on the socioeconomic standing of the emirate.



Bond of Trust
Thirtyfive years old and raring to continue, the first cement company in the UAE, Union Cement Company is now planning to expand their export base to East Africa, West Africa and India. Mustafa Gorgunel, Marketing Manager, UCC speaks to RAK Today about the journey so far, and future plans.
Who are the investors of UCC and how much market share does it own in the UAE’s cement industry? The RAK Government’s stake is 40.8%, Sheikh Khaled bin Abdullah Al Qasimi owns 22.5%, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, 20.4%, Salem Abdullah Salem Al Hosani another 4.0% . The domestic market share today is about 15%. What are the advantages of being the first cement company in the UAE, celebrating 35 years? UCC is not only the first cement company in the UAE, it is also the first cement manufacturer to have obtained the ISO and API certificates in the Middle East. The most important advantage UCC has is being “the Symbol of Quality”. What have been the highlights of the company in the last three decades? The production commenced with the first line in 1975 under the management of “Norcem A.S.”, a member of HeidelbergCement Group. The second line started in 1977 followed by the third one in 1979. In 2006, UCC commissioned its milestone “Plant 4”, a 10,000 tonne per day clinker production kiln that increased the clinker production capacity of UCC from 1.2 to 4.25 million tonnes per annum. Moreover; in 2007 cement mills 5 & 6 also contributed to add up the company’s grinding capacity to 4.27 million tonnes per annum and this made UCC the biggest cement manufacturer in the UAE. UCC obtained its ISO 9000 certification in 1994 as the first cement manufacturer in the Middle East. In 1980, UCC added API Spec Q1 certification and in 2000, added ISO 14001 certification in line with its dedication to the environment. What was your original capacity and what is your current one? How much have you invested in technology to bring about this change? The first and second production lines had production capacity of 250 tonnes per day (tpd) each. Line 3’s production capacity is 1,500 tpd and it was put in production in 1979. Line 4’s production capacity is 10,000 tpd and was commissioned in December 2006. Hence total production capacity of UCC equals 4.25mt/year. To make an additional point, Line 4 expansion was especially big and its basic investment value was about Dh830 million. Which are your client countries and how are you planning to expand your customer base? UCC is not making big volume of exports yet. Sudan, Qatar, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Iran can be listed as export markets. We are now trying to improve our exports to East and West African markets, as well as India. What is the USP of Union Cement? In addition to the consistent production quality, we have a wide range of products, such as Ordinary Portland Cement, High, Moderate and Low Sulphate Resisting Cement and Oil-Well Cement, that is a competitive edge for UCC. Also, owning its own bulk tanker fleet helps UCC to be able to deliver the cement to its customers whenever needed. Do your CSR activities address environmental needs, how? We have a slew of activities that include summer activities, participating in Holy Qur’an recitals, training students from the Higher College for Technology and Institute of Technology, Ramadan Activities like supplying iftar and suhour food for the employees, financial support to Environmental Authority (Dh3 M/year), donation to local schools, providing drinking water to the mosques in the Khor Khwair area, cement donations to the local people etc. Union Cement is currently launching its ambitious project “UCC Goes Green”. The project reflects the new company vision. The project includes many environmentally conscious programmes that will enable us to declare our operations as “Green”.



Home and Work
the Al Ghayl industrial zone, where nearly all roads lead to industries and manufacturing units, a road near the Pioneer Cement plant (a one million tonne per annum capacity plant that is a joint venture between RAKIA and the Indian company - Penna Cement Industries Limited.) leads homewards. The Pioneer Cement Colony, situated right next to the cement plant surprises you with its quaintness, its Andhra canteen serving some truly delicious food, its well-equipped facilities that include a gym, an indoor tennis court, a library, a cinema room, a Sahaj yoga centre etc. What is striking is the care with which it is all put together by its self-effacing Financial Controller and Secretary Pioneer Cement, Hareesh Babu. “It is a norm in India where you see cement companies located in far-flung areas, near the limestone quarries. The family accommodation is usually given nearby because attention to the factory needs to be 100 per cent. Here too, we have followed the same model. We are 75km away from the main town, and Masafi is about 15-20km away,” he states. The township is home to some 100 staff members and

Hidden between various industrial units at Al Ghayl is the Pioneer Cement Colony - a refreshing oasis of simplicity and peacefulness


their families, mainly from India, but there are Bangladeshis, Jordanians and Pakistanis too. Hareesh Babu came to the Al Ghayl area to set up the plant, when the entire place was just a point in the map between the deserts and the mountains. “We were the first factory to start in this zone in 2004. There was nothing here, except sand and we constructed some cabins to start our work,” he says. Soon, they created kachcha roads and requested FEWA for electricity and got temporary power from the Al Dhaid station nearby, and in a year and


three months time, lines became regular. “We have common celebrations in our colony. Most women here are home-

makers and there are facilities galore. Our Sahaj yoga lessons are free, we have vehicles that pick up and drop children to school in RAK, our vehicles take our colony members to Dubai or on shopping trips, our canteens serve food at nominal costs, we even have a film club and a recreation club, and a reading room where we gather together to watch films – we are a small community,” he states. Rent, electricity and water is free for colony residents and since it is located next to the factory, there is no transportation cost. Last year, the colony produced 400kg of dates from its home grown date palms – that were distributed among its residents. Babu states that the demand for cement has dropped because of the current delay in real estate projects and some cancellations but is glad that the RAK projects are doing well.” “We have acquired mines in Georgia and next year, Pioneer Cement will start production there too,” he states, adding that in his home state of Andhra Pradesh in India, Penna Cement and RAKIA are partners in an upcoming aluminium plant project called ANRAK at Vishakapatnam. RAKIA is an overseas partner in the project that cost one billion dollars.


Icing the Desert
The world’s largest man-made waterfall and rain dance pool, innovative first-time concepts like aqua soccer and snorkelling experience in a man-made coral reef with live fish, endless rides for children and adults -- the upcoming Ice Land Water Park, a part of WOW RAK -- promises to transform the sweltering heat of the desert with its ice-themed entertainment
you get people outside their ence even in their abayas,” he states. homes to come to the park Sheikh Saud himself suggested the in this weather?” asked HH Sheikh Saud bin name of the park, and since then, it has Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of RAK, to Balwant Singh, Managing Director, Polo RAK Amusements LLC. It was the 1st of July 2005, with temperatures soaring over 40 degrees Celsius, and Singh replied in the affirmative. Known in India as a theme park guru, his group, under the brand name of Fun and Food Village, has successfully established and is running entertainment parks in Delhi and Nagpur in India, and in Uzbekistan. Balwant Singh Santokh Chawla But how did he arrive in RAK? “We came as consultants to a theme park been called WOW RAK. Truly so, it is RAK’s that was already being planned. Feasibillatest wow factor. It has the world’s largest ity studies had already been laid down man-made waterfall (for RAK residents, by a British company and we were asked this is what you’ll see on the other side of to relook on it. The older version was the white and blue mountain range that well-planned, but not at all suited to this is visible from the main road at Al Hamra). weather,” states Singh, whose team drew It will have the world’s largest rain dance up a new plan that took into account the turf for 4,000 people, a huge area for aqua preferences of the people of UAE (comprissoccer that will give you an experience of ing over 170 nationalities), local customs, playing soccer in the rain, a man-made habits and culture as a whole, incorporatcoral reef with live fish that can help you ing them in the design. “For instance, in go snorkelling in a temperature controlled our waterfall area, swimming suits are not under sea-like environment, 39 water slides, mandatory. People can enjoy the experiseveral rides for children and adults, a food


court etc. It has a capacity of 10,000 people per day and an overflow capacity of 15,000 people per day. All its walking areas are covered with synthetic turf to cushion people, even if they fall. Also, in the kid’s area, most of the equipment used has rounded edges to avoid scratches and other accidents. The entire theme park is divided into the water park, the dry guides (with rides and entertainment zones), a shopping mall -- with souvenir shops, indoor games (half of the mall’s area), a 4D theatre, ice-skating rink, a bowling alley, a multiplex with three screens, an amphitheatre, a resort, and a hotel. “Our shopping areas, located near the shopping mall, are made in such a way that you walk for just about 75 metres to get into the mall entrance. Our ticketing areas too are air-conditioned,” he adds. “People will be spoilt for choice here. We are not selling a product here, we are selling happiness. We will more than justify what you pay for,” states Santokh Chawla, Jt Managing Director, Polo RAK Amusements. And that, sums it all!


Real Estate

Real Victories
a time when the term ‘real estate’ in the UAE is not always accompanied by pleasant sounding adjectives, RAK has reasons to flout the rule. A number of real estate projects are being planned, built, handed over and completed in the emirate. This includes developments at the Al Hamra Village, RAKEEN’s Al Marjan islands, (as well as the Banyan Tree, Al Wadi, that recently opened its spa), RAK Properties’ Mina Al Arab development, Polo RAK

Property projects are going ahead in RAK, despite the economic slowdown in UAE
Amusement’s WOW RAK theme park at the Jazeerat Al Hamra area, the new Radisson Hotel at the Al Nakheel area that is being built, Emke’s group’s sprawling RAK Mall, Hilton’s service apartments, the Alps Hotel – a project by Union Group, the Maritime City … the list reads long. Perhaps, Mohammed Sultan Al Qadi, Chief Executive of RAK Properties, the UAE’s sixth largest listed developer puts it succinctly. “We have seen a light at the end of the tunnel and are optimistic that this year will be better financially than 2009,” he says. The company’s project - Julfar Towers, one of the tallest structures in RAK, located near the waterfront, on the way to Manar Mall worth $136.1 million will be delivered this year. “A 150 million dirham phase of the Mina Al Arab project will also be handed over in the second quarter of this year, he adds. Mina Al Arab is a residential, retail and tourism development that will


occupy 2.8 sq metre area and spread along a 9-km stretch of beach. About 94 of its villas have been handed, leaving the 213 that too will be handed out soon. The year shall also see developments at RAKEEN’s Al Marjan Island, the first manmade island in Ras Al Khaimah, extending 4.5 kms into the sea, with its first development - the mixed-use project Bab Al Bahr, located on the peninsula of the island, therefore called ‘The Gateway to Island Living’. The Dh1 billion project shall have six residential buildings, uniquely shaped in the form of pyramids, and are scheduled for handover in August 2010 of the project that will also have a hotel, a shopping mall and an office tower. The other islands in its vicinity expected to be completed next year are Marbella Bay, (inspired by the architectural style of the historic Spanish region of Andalusia) and Pacific that will have luxurious private beaches, con-

temporary residences within a verdantly landscaped beachfront community. Recently, the Al Hamra Mall was inaugurated by Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud Al Qasimi, son of H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. The mall houses over 200 retail outlets apart from food court offering a diverse range of international cuisine and children’s play area. Set amid the Al Hamra Village development, the mall that has shopping, entertainment, dining and recreational options is sprawled over 300,000 square feet spread over two floors and involves an investment of Dh265m. Dr. Ayoob Alfaraj, General Manager of Al Hamra Real Estate Development LLC, which owns and operates the mall, aims to provide an enriched shopping experience catering to the demands of the multi cultural population visiting the mall. “About 95% of the shopping mall has been leased

out and to attract more, we have a range of festivities and promotions including a Brazilian Samba carnival for the first time in the UAE,” he says. The Iceland Water Park, part of the WOW RAK Themes Park from Polo Consulting Services in India is set to come up near the Mina Al Arab development. Sanjeev Ahluwalia, CEO, Polo RAK Consulting states that the park will be built in three separate phases – the first will be the opening of the Iceland Water Park that will have several features like the region’s highest man made waterfall, soccer in the rain experience among others. The second phase will have a shopping mall and the third phase will have an amusement park. Perhaps the most awaited development of all is the Palace Hotel at RAK. Second only to the Burj Al Arab, the 400-room luxury hotel will be built in the Al Jazeerah Al Hamra area along the RAK coastline at


an estimated cost of Dh300 million. The new hotel is expected to redefine the concept of luxury and will enhance the tourism appeal of the emirate in a big way. Designed by renowned Italian architect,

The 7-star hotel will be completed by the end of 2010. During a media briefing Dr. Khater Massaad, CEO RAKIA and Advisor to the RAK Crown Prince, said that the project is

Maurizio Papiri, the project combines the distinctive splendour and opulence of traditional Arabic architecture and the slick sophistication to meet modern day needs.

designed to be a `dream hotel’, which will be unique in several aspects. ‘It will have 600 metres of stunning beachside and all the rooms will be overlooking either the


azure of the sea or the 18-hole international golf course to be built near the site’, he said. The hotel is built on a ground floor area of 15,000 sq. metres with a total built-up area exceeding 130,000 sq. metres. It will have 22 floors and the total height is set at 116 metres. The minimum room size in the hotel will be 72 sq. metres. The hotel will also have three royal suites and 20 executive suites. Architect Maurizio Papiri, who has designed architectural landmarks like Grand Hotel, Rome, said that the Al Hamra Palace will reflect the richness and grandeur of Arabian and Islamic Architecture. The presence of an imposing tower in the centre of the hotel and two domes on either side are the focal points of the hotel design. One of the domes will house a world class conference hall with a capacity to accommodate 1,000 people while the other will have an 800-seat wedding hall. The hotel will have ultra-modern facilities including five restaurants, a shopping arcade housing outlets of international brands, all located on the ground floor designed in ancient archway architecture. It will also have a number of health clubs, a spa, business centre and swimming pools.

Luxury at Work
The RAK Business Square at the Amenity Centre adds a high-end panache to the Al Hamra free zone
an industrial area like Al Hamra Free Zone, that is full of manufacturing units, the Business Square adds a touch of luxury to the landscape. Located on the 12th floor of what is called the twin tower of RAK, also known as the Amenity Centre, the RAK Business Square is a swanky business centre that provides a complete range of products and services that include executive suites, fully staffed office spaces, flexi-desks, virtual offices, conference rooms and VIP lounges to all RAKIA companies. With another office in Switzerland, the two offices, between themselves provide clients with prestigious corporate addresses, experienced professional staff and state-of-theart office technology. At its helm is its young CEO, Shahab Izadpanah TEP, who came to RAK in 2007 and was part of the launch of RAK Offshore as its registered agent. “My association with RAKIA has been extremely fruitful. We opened the Business Square in November 2009, and since then, the response has been very favourable,” he states. The tastefully decorated Business Square is a high-end service provider that is already catering to a host of financial institutions, legal consultancy firms, large general trading corporations, corporate service providers and offers onshore and offshore RAKIA licences to them. To reach to the Business Square from Dubai, you have to follow Exit 119 from the Emirates Road that leads to the Al Hamra Industrial Park. As you near the road that meets the old highway that leads to Umm Al Quwain, the twin towers of the Amenity Centre fall to your right. “An important aspect of the Business


Square is that companies who have licences from Economic Department can lease offices in the Amenity Centre as well. The area will soon have a police station for finger prints, a hospital for medical test, etc, which will make the visa process much easier for investors,” states Shahab. According to him, this is the new Ras Al Khiamah that is being developed. “With all the real estate developments completed, it will be an industrial and business hub filled with lifestyle areas as well as high end housing colonies,” he adds. The Business Centre also advocates the concept of virtual offices where clients can avail the services of a prestigious address and full services without the cost of renting a workspace. For start up companies and multinationals wishing to test the market, the Flexi Desk offers a perfect solution – at a cost of Dh4990 per year giving you a two-hour access every day. You’d have your own telephone number, PO Box, one shared workstation, access to copy centre, a private email ID, fax, plus electricity, water, AC, cleaning services and parking facilities. Then, there is the executive office for those wanting a permanent cost-effective office within the UAE, a private desk space that you can rent for a period of a day or three months and

Shahab Izadpanah TEP

more etc. The Business Square also has a well-equipped conference room, a VIP Business Lounge that also serves refreshments. “We haven’t seen the crisis in this business,” states Shahab who feels that the Al Hamra Industrial Zone under RAKIA is slated to grow fast. “Companies opening their base here can outsource from here. We expect more industrial groups coming to this zone.” Plans are on to add to the current services provided by the centre. “You could call us boutique service providers catering to high end customers. For instance, following our specialised services, companies can hire a dedicated account manager who will manage their account with clients. We are planning to start a family service too,” he adds. The VIP Lounge - a beautifully designed facility - has its own membership, that consists of people, who are not registered with the Business Square.


Product watch

esigned by Dominique et Alain Vavro, the fluid and compact lines of the new Nordic collection are mostly inspired by Scandinavian design of the sixties, which matches the quality of RAK Porcelain, a crucial partner of the hotel and catering industry. The combination of timelessness and functionality offers to professionals a huge liberty in gastronomic creation. The exception variants of the Nordic collection allows venturous and inventive presentations.



Alluringly Acacia
What makes a business hotel like Acacia so popular in RAK – that already has a host of high-end properties, beach clubs and resorts dotting its landscape? Sean Halliday, GM of Acacia Hotel, spills the beans


very first hotel to greet you, as you enter RAK from Exit 119 from the Emirates Road, Acacia Hotel is the emirate’s newest destination. Going by the hotel’s current promotion for non-corporate customers, it will cost you a mere Dh299 per night, including breakfast for a single or a double room. Customers booked into Acacia, can avail the private beach of the Al Hamra Fort Hotel and a free pick-up and drop to the facility. Part of the Hamra Hotels and Resorts, a leading hotel developer and operator in the region, Acacia Hotel was created as a business hotel essentially but addresses all types of customers. The hotel that has two towers consist of 216 rooms, 42 Junior Suites ideal for travelling executives, 11 one-bedroom suites for the long-stay guest, and 103 apartments that are housed in an entire wing comprising one-bedroom apartments with a fully equipped kitchenette. The hotel has the Waves Bar, Oxygen Gym, O-Zone Spa, Al Nakhla Restaurant, Flamingo Bar, Tides Pool Bar, Club Acacia and Meeting Centre etc. Sean Halliday, General Manager of Acacia Hotel, Hamra Hotels & Resorts, with over two decades of experience in ‘unused destinations’ ( Vietnam, Baku – Azerbaijan) apart from the Savoy- London, Dubai, Phuket etc, finds in RAK an ideal environment that will bring in tourism. “We are located aptly. The beach is five minutes

away, the mountains are 10 minutes away, the desert is in our backyard – in little or no time, the tourist can avail of a host of our facilities,” he adds. “RAK is still a place that people from the emirates and outside are discovering, so that is our advantage. Also, our pricing,” he states. For corporate clients who sign an agreement with the hotel, the cost of a single room is Dh200/night plus breakfast and Dh250 for a double room. About 50-55 corporate companies have signed up with the hotel that includes people from the free zones and outside. “We are yet to prove ourselves, but are confident of our services. Previously, people didn’t have too many budget options with our quality standards in RAK. Now, they have us. We have very high standards with attributes like integrity and honesty ingrained into our system,” adds Sean, who believes that trust is the best investment that gains people’s respect. He has planned several activities to bring in more tourists and make it popular among the community. “We are working

with the hotel booking agents to award them redeemable points for every booking at our hotel,” he states. Plans are on to start a film club in the hotel premises, as well. Ask him what is the wealth of experience he brings to Acacia and he states, “RAK is not a finished product, it is a growing emirate which is why there is drive and determination to get things done,” he states. Sean has a wide range of experience in the hospitality industry that includes working across all its sectors including being in the kitchen, a barman, stewarding – etc, so, knows the function of each department really well. His training on his staff shows. They are cheerful, warm, hospitable and friendly. “We respect our staff and their time and take good care of them well. We ensure they are not overworked, take their days off and be there for them – and then, they function really well,” he adds. Cost-efficiency has been one compelling reason for investors to set base in RAK. Now, with the opening of the Acacia Hotel, tourists, businessmen or weekend travellers to RAK have one more excuse.



Powered Up!
Electro RAK- a world-class MEP solutions provider…in a league of its own!


RAK LLC, part of the globally renowned RAK Ceramics Group, is a leading provider of end-to-end Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP), civil contracting and infrastructural engineering services covering complex to medium industrial, commercial, residential and tourism projects. The company is a licensed FEWA contractor having achieved an ‘A’ grade certification for low voltage and high voltage installations with the distinction of qualitative completion of several high-tech projects under its belt. Electro RAK is the contractor of choice in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, as is evident from its diverse order book. From humble beginnings in 2006, the company has achieved astonishing growth within a short period, adding three companies viz. Encom Trading LLC, Emirates Heavy Engineering LLC and RAK Industries LLC to its portfolio. These new companies cater to industries as

diverse as fabrication of HVAC ducts, electrical switchgear assembly, design of power plants, infrastructural engineering as well as engineering, construction and industrial materials supply. “Keeping in line with the company’s vision of continued growth and diversification, the company has opened branches in the emirates of Fujairah and Abu Dhabi”, says Zakkir Hussain, the Managing Director of Electro RAK. He attributes the company’s glorious feats to Dr. Khater Massaad, Chairman of Electro RAK, who has been a visionary and a pillar of strength for the company since its early days. The company primarily focuses its activities in the Ras Al Khaimah market, but has spread its wings to other emirates increasing its share of the revenue pie. Power distribution and network installation have been the company’s operational forte. The company has successfully installed two power generation plants in the RAKIA

free zones: The 45 megawatt power plant in the Al Hamra Al Jazeera industrial area and the 84 megawatt power plant in the Al Ghail Industrial park. “Also, we have successfully erected a 3 MIGD Sea Water RO plant for SEWA”, Mr. Hussain confirmed. The company’s ongoing projects in RAK include projects at Mina Al Arab – a leisure and holiday beach resort, Bab Al Bahr - residential apartments in the coral shaped Al Marjan Island and the Royal Breeze apartments in Al Hamra Village. Towards the emirate of Fujairah, the company is engaged in the Mina Al Fajer development - a project involving a combination of residential apartments and villas, the highrise Rotana Suites and modification of the Fujairah Tower in the heart of the city. “The company is presently studying the feasibility of expanding its operations to the Asian and European markets”, concludes Hussain.


Landscape of Beauty

Balan, our pilot from the Al Nakheel flying strip, took us in an hour-long helicopter ride over Ras Al Khaimah – in a trip organised by the RAKIA office. We started off flying towards the Al Hamra development, on the way, startling a group of seven flamingoes in flight. The aqua marine waters of the Arabian Gulf mesmerised us, so did the beautiful developments along RAK’s coast – the Cove Rotana especially looks lovely from the sky, with its beach villas and their private swimming


pools, the rows and rows of bungalows at the Al Hamra development as well as the much awaited Palace Hotel there. We then flew over the RAK Ceramics unit and the entire Al Hamra free zone till we reached the T junction at the fag end of the Emirates Road. We flew over the road we usually ride on, to reach the scenic Tower Links Golf Course and then headed towards the best part of the tour, the date palm plantations and the Hajjar Mountains. While the red sands have a shock of green date palms in one area –

that makes it very alluring, the mass of rock and limestone that towers regally over the emirate is dotted with abandoned villages and scattered with dwelling spaces. The rocky mountains looked like giant sculptures that had been engraved by nature’s own hand. We then returned back to base but not before flying over the beautiful New Hilton Beach Hotel and Spa, truly drenched by the natural beauty of the emirate that has only been enhanced by its various aesthetic projects. What a trip it was!


Mantra of Success

Never ever give up!
“Try to master what you know instead of being swayed by trends that come and go. Keep a cool mind, delegate work and fill passion and dedication to your work sphere.You’ll certainly chart out a blueprint for success,” says Rizwan Sajan, Chairman of Danube, one of UAE’s most dynamic enterprises
Manju Ramanan
the world of brand recall and value, colours play an important role in memory. As you turn right from the T-junction at the RAK-end of the Emirates Road, you cannot miss a bright red Danube sign on your right. The UAE building materials brand that has its headquarters at the Jebel Ali Free Zone has been in RAK for a year now and doing well. “RAK was a natural choice of venue for our expansion plans, but space was a problem when we started out,” says Rizwan Sajan, Chairman of Danube, the building materials company that started out 17 years ago, from a small shop at Deira that, today, has 21 branches all across the emirates as well as in Muscat. “A chance meeting with Sheikh Omar bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of RAK Bank, sorted out the issue of land, and he wholeheartedly supported our venture,” says Sajan. The RAK branch has Buildmart, the retail section of Danube targeting regular customers as well as Danube Building



Materials, largely targeted towards the contractors, carpenters and joineries. “RAK has its own real estate projects plus a retail climate. The opening of the Danube store caters to that market and the store has done better than our Rizwan Sajan expectations,” he states. entrepreneurs in the region. At 18 years What about competition? RAK already of age, he arrived in Kuwait from Mumbai, is home to some world-class brands, still recovering from the tragic death of a blocks, tiles etc. “Yes, we enhance the existbeloved father, to join his uncle in his busiing products. At Buildmart, which is a oneness of building materials. After 10 years stop destination for individuals trying to of being in the business, when Kuwait build a home, we have everything under was invaded, he had to return to Mumbai, the same roof. RAK Ceramics is a marked and then he came to the UAE to work for presence at our store and we add value to a company to gain experience. “When their products,” he adds. The store sources I came to Dubai, the building materials good quality products from all over the industry was a competitive market. We world, including Italy and China, and gives sent a lot of material to Kuwait as the invacustomers the choice ranging from the sion had created a need for our industry,” highest to the lowest budget category. It he states. also offers after-sales service and advice on After gaining experience in the interior design. industry, he started Danube in a small Sajan’s own story has inspired several

warehouse in Sharjah and then moved to a small shop in Deira. “We had very little space to stack our goods, and often, the balcony of the flat doubled up as a storehouse. For transporting our goods, we used handcarts,” he reminisces. Ten years ago, he started the Danube branch at the Jebel Ali Free Zone. “We are lucky to have got a great location, close to the main road,” he states. Truly so, the Danube sign is evident at exit number 4 and is in close proximity to the Sheikh Zayed Road. After the Jebel Ali branch was opened, Danube opened several other branches in places like Abu Dhabi and Muscat. Today, there are 21 branches of Danube stores across the emirates, and now they are planning a spate of stores in India and Saudi Arabia. Ask him what keeps him going despite trials and tribulations coming his way, and he says it all happens if you keep a cool mind. “If you take stress, stress will take a toll on you. You need to keep cool to handle problems. Try to master what you know and delegate work. Even if you fail, work hard with dedication and passion and you will be closer to success,” he states. A fact that you can see embodied in Danube. From a two-person team to a whopping 350-strong employee empire. The group has a presence in Jebel Ali, Deira, Salahadin, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, RAK and Muscat. With an extensive customer base in the GCC, Asia and Africa, Danube has grown from a small trading firm in 1993 to one of the largest building materials companies in the region. With a wide geographical stretch and a talented workforce, Danube has been part of Emaar projects like Emirates Hills, the Burj Al Arab, the Shangri La and the Grand Hyatt hotels, a private palace in Muscat, young Emirati couples creating a dream home, and a wide range of over 10,000 products.

Ask him what the USP of the Danube brand is and he credits it all to his workforce. “When we do business, each of our clients feels at home, as it has always been a very special one-on-one ideology. We have been successful as the entire treatment one gets is like a family. Our customers, suppliers, employees, agents and distributors remain valued members of this expanding relationship,” he adds. What about the recession that has hit the construction sector really hard? Doesn’t he see his own company suffering a backlash? Sajan has an interesting take on it. “People compare the current economic crisis and find it turning worse because they are comparing it to the boom of 2008. If you look around, you can still see a lot of cranes at work at construction sites in several places. The malls are full of people too. It will be wise to compare the current situation with the years 2006 and 2007 instead of the year 2008,” he

states. Confident that the UAE will bounce back to normal in no time, he has only words of praise for the country and its able leadership. “Whenever I travel across the world for business, I return and love the country even more. The atmosphere of doing business is simplified here. There are no hiccups to start work, visa problems are sorted out and things work smoothly,” he adds with a smile. When there is insurmountable will, pathways to success emerge automatically…….



Honorary doctorate for Sheikh Saud
Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bolton at the first degree congregation ceremony held for the University of Bolton- Ras Al Khaimah campus. The honorary doctorate was conferred from University of Bolton’s Chancellor, The Rt Hon. Baroness Morris of Bolton, OBE, DL, at a function held at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa. The `Doctor of the University’ degree was awarded to Sheikh Saud in recognition of his services to education. In his acceptance speech, Sheikh Saud stressed the vital significance of education in determining the country’s progress, “Knowledge is the cornerstone of any society. It is a vehicle by which we can master our destiny and overcome our challenges, a vehicle by which we can invent solutions



to our problems and turn them into opportunities.” Sheikh Saud said that UAE as a country has undergone a meteoric change in the last forty years. “Four decades back, we were looking for someone who could just read and write Arabic. Now, as we look around, we can see people from all over the world come here to get educated, for treatment, to invest and as tourists to spend the best times of their lives.” “In the globalised age of today, the international dimension of our lives has come to stay. Those of us who want to be relevant and successful have to understand the nature of change and adapt to it.” As many as 25 undergraduate students received their Bachelor’s degrees in Business Management, and approximately 30 post-graduate students received certificates or diplomas from the university’s Vice Chancellor, Dr. George Holmes at the

function. The event marked the graduation of the first cohort of students from University of Bolton’s first international campus, which is also the first and only British university operating in RAK under the RAK Free Trade Zone umbrella. Also in attendance were various dignitaries, including H.E Edward Oakden, British Ambassador to the UAE, H.E. Sheikh Faisal bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of the RAK Free Trade Zone and RAK Finance Department, Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud Al Qasimi, other sheikhs, heads of government departments, students and members of the British Council and British Embassy. The University of Bolton- RAK Campus currently has 300 students registered in a range of programmes, including Business, Computing, Engineering, Electronics and Supply Chain, all of which follow the

control, assessment and curriculum of the university’s UK centre. All progression and awards are conferred by the same UK examination boards assessing University of Bolton students in the UK. Therefore, the University is able to award a UK degree to RAK campus students. Zubair Hanslot, Academic Director of the RAK Campus, is supported by the University’s International Campus learning Unit, based at the UK campus. The Unit provides support to ensure quality control over procedures and processes. “The internationalisation agenda is providing global opportunities to many communities who otherwise would not be able to access UK education. It is also a mechanism by which the university reflects on its teaching and learning strategies and the manner in which the academic curriculum is put into practice,” Hanslot said.

Nanotechnology for Energy
The emirate has commenced the construction of a sophisticated research facility for Advanced Materials under the banner of Ras Al Khaimah Centre for Advanced Materials (RAK- CAM). Sheikh Saud made the announcement while delivering the keynote address at the 2nd Annual International Workshop on Advanced Materials (IWAM- 2010) held at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa. “The

construction of our dedicated RAK- CAM building, with more than 10,000 square meter of laboratory and office space, has just begun at a site close to the Emirates Road. By early 2011, the facility will be equipped with state- of- the- art equipment such as electron microscopes, x-ray diffractometers, optical spectrometers, and so on,” he states. “RAK-CAM will play a number of roles as its programmes develop over the next five years, including the pursuit of world class scientific research here in RAK, providing facilities and support for local industries, and offering training and educational opportunities for young people in the community who are interested in science,” he added. Stressing the need for the Arab world and the region to focus more on scientific research, Sheikh Saud said, “Apart from developing education, we must invest in research that will propel us to a new era. The Arab world and this region must go into overdrive to keep up with those around and to overcome our problems and create new opportunities for wealth and prosperity.” He said that the different applications of materials science and nanotechnology offered great hope for mankind to solve its energy challenges and to create sustainable solutions for the future. The

three- day workshop with the theme `Enabling New Technologies for Energy and Environmental Application through Nanomaterials’ held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Saud was attended by the world’s leading materials scientists and around 130 researchers from 30 countries. Prof. M. Samy El Shall, Director of RAK- CAM, said that the major research focus at RAK-CAM facility would be solar energy, environmental catalysis, advanced ceramic materials and renewable energy. “Once fully developed, the RAK- CAM campus will be home to 70- 80 people including 40 researchers from across the globe. So far RAK- CAM has offered six Sheikh Saqr Al Qasimi post doctoral fellowships for researchers undertaking materials science research in world’s leading universities. We hope to increase the number of fellowships this year,” El Shall added. As part of RAK CAM’s education and training initiative, it will be organising later this year a four- day advanced studies programme dealing with `Next Generation Solar Cells’ and `Nano Catalysis for Energy Applications’. Prof. Anthony K Cheetham, Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of RAKCAM, Dr. Hans Ulrich Habermeier, Head of Scientific Service Group, Max Planck Institute of Solid State Research, Germany, Prof. A. Welford Castleman Jr from the Pennsylvania State University, Prof. Luis M Liz- Marzan from the University of Vigo, Spain, Dr. Meyya Meyyapan, Director and Senior Scientist, NASA Ames Center for Nanotechnology and Prof C.N.R Rao, Founding President, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, and several other leading scientists who presented papers and participated in the discussions at the workshop.



Committed to Excellence
The American University of Ras Al Khaimah, that is soon to complete its first anniversary, already has a strength close to 100 students. Prof Sharon Siverts, President of the American University of Ras Al Khaimah, explains how AURAK extends its expertise and support to various government and business sectors apart from providing quality education to the emirate
How many students study at AURAK and which are the countries they come from? AURAK is nearing one year this June. Within this short period, we have close to 100 students at the campus from 24 countries including UAE - Algeria, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mali, Nigeria, Palestine, Pakistan, Russia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen. In the coming few years-we see ourselves crossing the four digit mark and are expecting more international students. What is the USP of AURAK? Sharon Siverts AURAK is licensed by the Ministry of Higher Education in the UAE and all its How do you see AURAK contribute programmes are accredited. Other USPs to the emirate’s future need of we consider are: professionals? • American-style education that engages AURAK programmes are professionally students; and programmes that meet focused with internships. We contribute to market demand. the development of RAK’s future profes• An inviting campus environment full of sionals by preparing business, engineering and biotechnology individuals to consocial, cultural and sports activities. tribute to business in RAK. The university • On campus apartment-style residence supports with expertise for research and facility, separate for male and female development and the programmes are students. geared to a global environment, particu• Affordable fee structure with a variety larly relating to businesses that advance of payment plans. RAK and the UAE. • Variety of scholarships. Education is the key to development • Small classes with fellow students from – economic, social, and cultural. Without around the world and personal faculty educated citizens, a country is not able to attention. develop to capacity or be an economic • Excellent teachers and well-equipped driver in the world economy. There is no high technology classrooms and substitute for education – it is an essential laboratories that connect on campus time-binding element of our world. education with real world experience. There will be more focus on working RAK is known to be an industrial base. with the schools and the community to demonstrate the commitment of AURAK to be a significant contributor to the quality of life of those living in RAK. The American University of Ras Al Khaimah has been licensed by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education. Which of your courses are accredited? Currently, we offer Bachelor of Science degrees in Biotechnology; Business Administration with specialisations in Finance, International Business, or Marketing; Electronics and Communications Engineering, and Computer Engineering. All these programmes are accredited. The BS in Management with specialisations in Human Resource Management and Management Information Systems is currently under review by the CAA. The Master of Education in Educational Leadership is another programme undergoing accreditation which we hope to offer in fall 2010. We also offer an English Language Program (ELP) which emphasises reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in English to prepare students to meet the English language requirements for admission to academic programs. ELP offers a wide range of courses to cater to various English language needs, which includes full-time study for prospective university students; IELTS or TOEFL preparation; Intensive English; Business English and English for Specific Purposes. English language courses are run throughout the year. (AURAK is an approved TOEFL testing centre.)


Legally Speaking
‘When clients want to set up business in the UAE, our task is to help them derive the benefits of numerous double tax treaties the UAE has ratified with high taxed countries’
When was your firm founded and in which jurisdictions do you work? The first Austrian chamber was founded by a member of the Strohal family in 1870. I started my professional career in Austria in 1974, became member of the Austrian Bar Association in 1979, an international lawyer in Singapore in 1992, and a legal consultant in the UAE in 2005. Presently, we work in all GCC countries as well as in the Far East, but we still have intensive connections to the Vienna chamber. Why did you choose Ras Al Khaimah as the domicile for your law firm? I was invited by high ranking people to start my business in Ras Al Khaimah, because at that time, there was no international law firm domiciled here. Further, most foreign investors preferred to be represented by an experienced international lawyer. When I opened my office in 2005, I frequently have been asked “What are you doing up there in this camel town?” But there is no doubt that I made the right choice. Ras Al Khaimah is one of the most booming emirates resisting the economic downturn. I am pleased to state that there are more investors setting up their companies through our office than have done ever before. Are your activities limited to Ras Al Khaimah? No. We are working with an onshore licence so we can represent clients not only in the whole of UAE, but also in other GCC countries. However, most of our clients settle in Ras Al Khaimah as this emirate offers excellent conditions to foreign investors. Which fields of law are you specialised in? We concentrate on business law in general; we mostly work in corporate matters, joint ventures, real estate and international taxation. Of course, also immigration and labour law are covered by our expertise. We do not take mandates in family law, criminal law and any litigation. There are no taxes in the UAE. Why do you concentrate on international taxation? Dr Theodor Strohal Most of our clients Founder and Senior Partner, Strohal Legal Group, come from high International Legal Consultants, Ras Al Khaimah tax countries. When they want to set up business in the UAE, our task is to guide them in order to avoid basic mistakes on how to establish the corporate structure or how to derive from the benefits of numerous double tax treaties the UAE has ratified with high taxed countries. So being experts in this legal field, we advise our clients how to prevent themselves from unexpected tax payments and from being charged of fiscal offence after years of setting up. In which languages do you provide your services? Our lawyers provide advice in English, German, Arabic and French. Through our Singapore office, we also provide advice in Mandarin, Hokkien and Malay. What are the main nationalities of your clients? About 50 per cent come from German speaking countries, partly residing here already and partly considering relocation or setting up subsidiaries in the MENA region. The other 50% are mostly foreign entities from Europe, Far East, Canada and US, but we also advise local clients. What about lobbying? Do you think that knowing the right people is more important in this country than knowing the law? I would not say that. Of course, the decision-makers are not numerous, and to have a direct approach to them can be very important for the client’s interest. Nevertheless, the laws in this country are generally respected and everybody who works and lives here can rely on a profound legal system which is supported by effective executive powers.

Office : Villa 2, 20b Street, (behind Ittihad University), P.O. Box 31484. Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. Tel: 00971 7 236 4530. Fax: 00971 7 236 4531. Email : office@slg-strohallegalgroup.com


Tee Time
Incredible India’s golf tournament in the UAE was held over three golf courses in the UAE - one in Sharjah and two in Ras Al Khaimah. Over 160 golfers took part in the golf tournament organised by India Tourism’s Dubai office as part of their Incredible India promotions. While the first round of the event was held at Golf & Shooting Club, Sharjah , the second round was held at Al Hamra Golf Club, RAK followed by the third round at the Tower Links Golf Club, RAK . The 160 golfers enjoyed playing the tournament and the winners were Burhan Mohd who stood first with 102 points, Antoin Breen in the second position with 94 points, Zoyed Mohd in third place with 94 points, Mitesh Desai in fourth position with 91 points and Abizher Mohd in fifth position with 90 points.



Spirit of Giving

Fostering the spirit of generosity in children, Ras Al Khaimah English Speaking School’s annual charity day raised money for Red Crescent clinics within the UAE.


Retreat to Rak for a Blissful Holiday




Wellness Enclave
Set in the backdrop of the Hajjar Mountains and within easy reach of the famed hot springs, RAK Hospital, the first private sector hospital in RAK, is a natural extension of the warm philosophy and forward-looking approach of its rulers and people. Set up in 2007 as a joint venture between ETA Star Healthcare and the Government of RAK, it extends ‘hospitality’ into the ‘hospital’ with consummate ease by blending comfortable premium stay with sensitive patient handling. An interview with Raza Siddiqui, executive director, ETA Star Healthcare
What are the benefits of having a hospital of your quality and standards in RAK? The vision of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of RAK, is to promote RAK as a wellestablished destination for quality healthcare. I quote His Highness: “RAK Hospital will be the cornerstone of our mission to position RAK as a pre-eminent destination for quality healthcare in the region.” His vision to place RAK on the global map, of not just the healthcare sector, finds resonance in the philosophy of the hospital. We aim to provide world-class facility to the business guests travelling from abroad at one level, and endeavour to cater to the local needs at the other. We have welcomed over 30,000 guests, as we fondly call our patients, in the first two years. We recently handled a case of a Swiss lady on her annual vacation to the UAE. She has been brought back, from what could have proved to be a very dark situation for the family, by our specialist. Her husband has placed us on a par with the finest hospitals in their part of the world. Are you introducing new specialities this year? What are they? We have three centres of excellence that conform to the global best -- The Joint Replacement Programme, that specialises in hip and knee replacements; the Intervention Cardiology Programme, with specialists like Dr Rajeev Lochan, who has introduced angioplasty and angiograms to RAK for the first time; and our Weight Management Programme, Raza Siddiqui which tackles the entire issue of not just obesity, but even the underweight aspect. With rising obesity levels and awareness, the programme has, at its centre, cutting-edge bariatric surgery by our specialist, and is offered as a complete package with diet counselling and post-op patient support. Patients with sub-normal BMI too are counselled through the programme. Yet another extension planned is a family clinic at Al Hamra Mall to specifically cater to the residents of the Hamra area who may find the distance a bit daunting at the moment. In what capacity is RAK Hospital tied up with the free zone companies? We are after all a part of the same fabric. At one level, we are in business, and at the other, we provide healthcare of the finest quality. So, the bond is a lot more than what is physically evident. We steadfastly adhere to the common vision of developing RAK as a hub of excellence across sectors. We have welcomed numerous people who have accessed the facilities at RAK Hospital; and we continue to do so. How do you plan to address the issue of medical tourism that is being promoted by the emirate? RAK Hospital is designed to cater to a healthy, long stay. Warm patient care, impeccable medical staff, healing environs, strict adherence to patient confidentiality -- all add up to a very ‘home-away-fromhome’ feeling. We are official healthcare partners to all major hospitality destinations in RAK, and are successfully working closely with different organisations to leverage its natural tourism potential to attract medical tourists for cosmetic and dental procedures, among others. We have been receiving, since inception, several from Europe who access these services regularly. We also have a steady stream of patients from Oman, Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As we like to say at the hospital: ‘Welcome to RAK Hospital. We are not a hotel, but you won’t notice it!’



Nature Repose
Play with animals and learn about falcons at the newly opened Banyan Tree Al Wadi desert resort


serendipitous Banyan Tree Al Wadi has added yet another picturesque element to the enchanting RAK landscape - animals in its reserve and a spa, both of which were part of its masterplan, but opened only recently. Pascal Eppink, General Manager, Banyan Tree, Al Wadi, has been with the project since the very start from Janurary 2008. In Phuket, with his earlier posting with the same group, a position he held for three years, he was part of the design and planning of the Al Wadi resort since his experience in Saudi, Oman and Bahrain equipped him with the tastes of the local population. Naturally then, his inputs made a big difference in the design of the project. For instance, to add connecting rooms for families, water holes for the animals in the resort etc. “When I came here, we had to work at various levels. Apart from overseeing the progress of the resort, I worked with an animal consultant to integrate the space for animals in the area. We wanted people who were passionate

about animals as well as articulate. I found a specialist, who is now our Recreation and Reserve Manager,” he states. “The resort has started a falcon school that is spread over three levels – beginners, intermediate and advanced, and the classroom is ready,” he states. The horses for the resorts too are finalised and now people from outside too can learn horseriding there. “We are also building local tents that will have a story telling time , local events, an Arabic coffee sampling session, a camel for the traditional experience – so that people can learn about the rich history and culture of the region,” he states. Of course, to maximise the desert experience, there are several activities planned - the

resort has two saffron towers and guests can choose a Western, Arabic or an Asian meal - in a romantic set-up. For the seashore experience, the Banyan Tree villas near Al Hamra are ready, so that the guests who stay at the desert resort can avail the sea experience too. So, how does the resort deal with the summer months? “We shall have special promos for the coming months. Our spa is ready, which will gather a large number of people. Also, all our swimming pools in the individual villas are chilled. We shall have early morning and late evening activities. We have planned a ‘camel on call’ facility, and story-telling sessions near the dunes. We also plan to have a small area for children. In the future, we shall have a hot air balloon facility with breakfast in the desert, and we are exploring the small expeditions for ‘scorpion searching’ in the dark. What about expansion? “There are plans to start a mountain resort at the Jebel Jais, “he states.



Humanity on Track
The annual RAK Terry Fox Run highlighted the philanthropic side of RAK residents and guests



first annual RAK Terry Fox Run was held at the Al Qawasim Corniche in Ras Al Khaimah. HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, along with H E Kenneth Lewis, Canadian Ambassador to the UAE, fired the starting horn setting the runners off on the separate 5km and 3km runs held as part of the event. According to the organisers, more than 500 people participated in the run and many more took part in the event as spectators and volunteers. The event started off with the pre-run warm up to motivate the runners and was followed by a march by the members of the RAK Police music who played their tunes. People wearing T-shirts with the portrait of Terry Fox ran, cycled, jogged and skateboarded in the non- competitive event held to raise money for cancer research. The funds collected from the RAK event would be donated to the UAE University Hospital in Al Ain where a number of ongoing and cancer research projects are being conducted. H.E Kenneth Lewis, Canadian Ambassador to the UAE personally took part in the run “I have taken part in Terry Fox runs in six different countries and am

The annual Terry Fox runs held across the world takes forward the mission of Terry Fox, who became an enduring global icon as he attempted to run across Canada in 1980 after losing a leg to bone cancer, to raise funds for cancer research. Sadly,Terry’s bone cancer returned during his run and he died shortly after at the age of just 22.
very impressed with the level of participation and the community spirit witnessed in RAK today,” he says. “The very strong popular support for the Terry Fox runs in the UAE indicates the desire of the people to fight a terrible disease that affects so many people and the strong sense of community to rally for a good cause. It’s also glad to note that there is world- class cancer research currently going on in the UAE University in Al Ain,” says H.E. Kris Panday, Canadian Consul-General in Dubai. Gerry Gibson, Business Instructor at the RAK Women’s College found the event a great experience to represent his country. “I have run the race in Canada. It is really good to see so many people running in RAK in the first year. Hopefully, the message will spread and we will have more people running next year and of course raising more money,” he says. Maricar Marquez from Philippines, who works at the RAK Hospital, ran the 3-km stretch with her friends in the event. Excited that RAK has joined the list of places hosting the Terry Fox Run, she states that the run would help a great deal in creating awareness about the disease and giving people an opportunity to contribute their small bit in mankind’s fight against cancer. The event was crammed with hundreds of people, baby strollers, children in fancy costumes, families and veteran runners.


RAK Half Marathon


The 2010 RAK Half Marathon, the World’s 2nd richest half marathon that was held in RAK, saw a sea of people running for various reasons, sport, solidarity and charity. Among the winners were Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya and Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey.

Children participating in cultural programmes bringing a burst of joy to the event