In his speech marking the acceptance of the Visionary Leader of the Year Award at the Arabian Business Awards, Ruler of Ras al Khaimah, His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi, said the emirate's economy will continue to grow, boosted by increasing diversificaiton and its vibrant tourism sector.
Ras al Khaimah's financial prudence and clear development plan as to where the emirate sees itself in the future will drive growth, said Sheikh Saud.
“We were known as seafarers and traders. We’re now an Emirate of industry. And we’re doing it without oil,” he said.
Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah since October 27, 2010, Sheikh Saud said the emirate is a diversified, open economy regulated by transparent and stable institutions, with its economy growing by 200% over the past decade.
“My time on this Earth is limited but Ras al Khaimah’s success needs to be endless,” said Sheikh Saud.
“This needs to happen through tangible improvements in the lives of people, and by building stronger better institutions. And for that we will need to constantly reinvent ourselves,” he added.
For evidence of how that has already happened, Sheikh Saud pointed to how from an economy that primarily provided raw materials to the rest of the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah has grown to house startups, real estate developments and a vibrant tourism sector.
“We had one five star hotel 15 years ago. Now we have many. This year we are on track to exceed one million visitors and will look to attract 3 million by 2025. Tourism by then will have doubled its share of Ras al Khaimah’s GDP to 10%,” he added.
Much of Ras al Khaimah’s success was owed to visionary leaders, said Sheikh Saud paying tribute to the founding fathers of the UAE.
“When I see Sheikh Khalifa (Ruler of Abu Dhabi), I know Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan is alive. When I see Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, I know [his father] Sheikh Rashid is alive,” he said.
Sheikh Saud also recalled an encounter with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that he said illustrated the “financial prudence” he has kept to heart when embarking on his vision for the emirate.
During a visit to Ras Al Khaimah in 1998, Sheikh Saud said Thatcher told him: “'A housewife needs to manage a household and ensure everything runs well, and I take the same sense when running a country’.”
Sheikh Saud said he coupled the lesson from that conversation with others that he had learnt from the UAE's founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, his own father, Sheikh Saqr bin Muhammad al Qasimi, and Sharjah’s former ruler Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammad al Qassimi.
“Wealth is not money, it lies in men and women,” he said.
“This is what has convinced me to direct all our resources in the service of the nation. No matter how much wealth a nation has, it cannot succeed [without its people]. And I try every day not to waste a minute,” he said.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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