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BRIEFING RAK


“RAK’s business model Relies heAvily on inwARd investment: officiAls sAy thAt 39 peR cent of investoRs ARe fRom indiA, 19 peR cent fRom the middle eAst excluding the gcc, And 15 peR cent fRom the gcc itself.”


“I chose RAK as the emirate has great potential,” says Dr. Richter. “And we usually chose locations with a ‘resort character’. Ras Al Khaimah is an ideal location to hold our Global Arab Business Meeting. The Ruler is a great supporter.” In truth, the quality of the debate


at the conference did not match that sometimes encountered when the big- hitters converge on Dubai. The outcome of the discussions seemed to be that the volatility caused by the Arab Spring was no bad thing for resourceful Middle East- based entrepreneurs. But as a platform for investment in RAK, it was perfect. “I have attended a number of Horasis meetings, including last year’s event in RAK. They represent a great networking and learning platform,” says Wolfgang Lehmacher, partner and managing director for Greater China and India, of CVA, a global strategy consulting boutique. “They are international and local at the same time, allowing participants to realise … views beyond the snapshot of the regional situation and intentions.” At a lunch served in two packed adjoining restaurants, a Greek PhD from Cambridge University set out her desire to commercialise her company’s cancer research - and how possibly to involve RAK educational institutions. An Indian businessman earnestly entreated a Dubai- based Emirati over his latest business plan. A German IT executive who divides his time between Paris and Hong Kong said RAK, with more information, might be worth a second look. An Indian banker and fund manager took Sheikh


46 / DECEmBEr 2011


of investors are from India, 19 per cent from the Middle East excluding the GCC, and 15 per cent from the GCC itself. Dr. Khater Massaad, who built the


largest ceramics company in the world, RAK Ceramics, was on hand to explain that the RAK Investment Authority, which he also heads, is home to over 9,800 companies, of which 800 are industrial. “Total industrial investment in RAKIA to date exceeds $3.5 billion,” he said. Alex Thomas, general manager,


Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.


Saud to one side to impress on him the need to improve local education. “Recent regional consolidation has


corrected unsustainable [projects] and is refocusing business on fundamentals,” says Mr. Lehmacher. “This makes for solid perspectives in the region. Ras al Khaimah offers exactly this perspective. It is a dynamic emirate, intending to invest in knowledge management and education. RAK represents fertile ground for many businesses.” RAK’s economy has held its own during the downturn and new projects and warehouses spring up regularly. Its business model relies heavily on inward investment: officials say that 39 per cent


marketing, at RAK Investment Authority, pointed to increasing migration from GCC companies as a key to RAK’s recent economic success, although he could not comment on UAE companies moving to the emirate. “Costs are an important factor,” he said. RAK has proved remarkably adept at


attracting foreign investment and has seized every opportunity to sell its brand internationally. Why did Dr. Richter choose RAK over Dubai to host his event? Probably because he realised that, ultimately, more new businesses would be incubated as a result. “We are not a conference organiser,”


says Dr. Richter. “Conference organisers usually invite a few star speakers. And 500 people sit and applaud. We want to involve everybody in an active dialogue; that’s the reason we include so many boardroom dialogue panels. Participants usually stay on during the whole meeting, [as opposed] to conferences where speakers come and leave.” And as the new enterprises


mushroom in RAK’s industrial zone, you can see why.


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