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Tue 8 Aug 2006 04:00 AM

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Ras Al Khaimah to push green tourism

Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) certainly has ambition. The most northerly emirate in the UAE appears to have woken up to the idea of tourism and is now working hard to carve its own niche market, focusing on MICE, sports tourism and eco-tourism.

|~||~||~|Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) certainly has ambition. The most northerly emirate in the UAE appears to have woken up to the idea of tourism and is now working hard to carve its own niche market, focusing on MICE, sports tourism and eco-tourism.

The government of Ras Al Khaimah has recently launched the RAK Promotion Board, which will endeavor to promote the emirate internationally. Tourism developments abound on the drawing board, with plans for a media city, a reclaimed island, several real estate developments, a mountain resort and additional golf courses.

However, while the list may scream of another Dubai in the making, RAK Promotion Board insists this is not the case. Talking to CEO, Khater Massaad, earlier this week, he insists that the focus of the emirate is not mass tourism, but rather a ecologically tailored tourism product that will make the most of RAK’s natural assets: the sea and the Hajjar mountains.

Hotels are being urged to go eco-friendly, and the whole emirate is to undergo a facelift, with historical monuments being restored and the desert and mountains protected.

It’s good to see a destination that is focusing on its natural assets. After all, ‘location, location, location’ is still the mantra of the tourism industry – proving that it is the sights and cultural attractions that bring in the crowds, and not a 70-storey skyscraper.

As the cost of pollution continues to make headlines worldwide - with the aviation and travel industry as the main offenders – now is the time for the industry as a whole to step up to the plate and accept its responsibility to the environment. RAK could well prove to be the regional model for sustainable tourism, and I urge those in the industry to watch its progress.||**||

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