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Wed 18 May 2011 06:32 PM

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RAK eyes industrial deals to bolster foreign investment

UAE emirate is keen to invest in industrial firms, no cap on funds available

RAK eyes industrial deals to bolster foreign investment
RAK PLANS: Ras Al Khaimah is willing to invest and partner with foreign industrial companies in a bid to boost investment in its new free zone, RAK Maritime City

Ras
Al Khaimah is willing to invest and partner with foreign industrial companies
in a bid to boost investment in its new free zone, RAK Maritime City, a board
member said.

The
AED520m ($141.5m) tax-free business park is part of the emirate’s plan to diversify
its economy.

“We
are not only trying to get clients, we are also offering the opportunity to
invest with potential investors,” said Naser Bustami, group board director for
Saqr Port Authority.

“It
somebody is interested and they have a genuine valuable project that they would
like to take on board… we would be willing to contribute and maybe partner with
them.”

The
government has not ringfenced a specific amount for investment but said
ventures would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

“There
is no cap. HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi would decide depending on what the
investment was,” said Captain Colin Crookshank, general manager of RAK Maritime
City.

“[We
have invested] AED520m to date and… we may invest in warehousing but we
wouldn’t envisage much more than about a couple of AED100m.”

The
northern emirate, whose GDP comprises 1.5 percent of the UAE’s economy, has
little oil wealth and has built its economy on industries such as cement,
pharmaceuticals and glass.

The
emirate’s ruler said the new maritime city would play a key role its
diversification plans.

“We
think the Maritime Industrial Park will add to the economy of RAK. It really
can be a great asset,” HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi told Arabian Business.

The
800-hectare free zone hopes to attract between 30-40 major tenants and expects
all of the space along the 5km quay wall, which is dedicated to berths and
private jetties, to be filled within the next two years, said Crookshank.

The
free zone is in talks with several fabrication and marine construction
companies who are looking to base their operations for the Gulf and the Indian
Ocean in RAK.

Three
or four companies are expected to be announced in the next 6-12 months, said
officials. 

Three
major companies have established operations in the freezone. They include the
German gypsum board maker, Knauf, the Greek construction company Archirodon and
the barge and tug operations subsidiary of the Malaysian conglomerate, Shin
Yang.

Companies
operating in the Maritime City will have 100 percent foreign ownership,
repatriation of funds and no customs duties or corporate taxes.

The
zone will also be able to issue trade licences, work permits and residency
visas.