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Sat 9 Jan 2010 04:00 AM

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Moving mountains

Natural surroundings and rocky resources have shaped the development of Ras Al Khaimah.

Moving mountains

Natural surroundings and rocky resources have shaped the development of Ras Al Khaimah.

In the beginning stages of development, where some regions looked to oil and gas reserves to boost their economies, Ras Al Khaimah turned to its mountains, where limestone, gabbro, silica and other clays would provide a foundation for the cement, ceramic and glass industries. Now, thousands of manufacturers of these very products are located in the city's industrial areas. RAK Freezone, for example, which was established in 2000, currently accommodates some 5000 companies.

In recent years, the emirate has once again turned to its natural surroundings, but this time, for a whole new purpose.

New construction activity makes the most of the city's picturesque environment by focusing on hospitality and real estate. A raft of projects have broken ground over the past few years that are expected to attract tourists, GCC nationals and expatriates alike. Such projects include Mina Al Arab, a coastal development, which will extend some 4.5km into the sea from the mainland.

Another waterfront development, Al Marjan Island, is destined to become a place for luxurious living. Five coral islands are being developed off the coast of the emirate, which will be home to residential areas and resorts.

Construction in RAK remains strong, according to officials. "RAK has never been over-hyped but the Crown Prince, HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, has played a key role in encouraging business to ‘the industrial emirate' and, therefore, we're not reliant on speculators," says Rakeen manging director Ghassan Youssef.

However, the confusion remains over the US $1.4 billion La Hoya Bay development that was supposed to be delivered in 2008. In September 2009, a RAK court ruled in favour of some 800 project investors and appointed RAK-based property developer Rakeen as judicial custodian of Khoie Properties, the project's original developer, until the completion of the project. Khoie has denied rumours of insolvency.

Despite setbacks, demand remains in most northern of the UAE's emirates. All industries are attracted to RAK through excellent leadership and that means that we're not responding to a bubble, but to an increase in industry and production," says Romain Felber, general manager of RAK's Al Hamra Village development.

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