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RAKEZ makes strategic changes.

With over 13,000 companies from over 100 countries already operating in the Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) in the UAE, the authority is all set to target new markets and engage with more corporates to set up their units in their zone.

In the coming months, RAKEZ - an authority established by the government of Ras Al Khaimah to oversee, regulate and consolidate the services, facilities and zones of Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) and Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) - plans to remain aggressive by targeting its core markets such as India, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Europe and the GCC countries.

"We will be sending delegations and participating in many exhibitions to extend our reach to the investors in these countries, where we are actually receiving many enquiries showing interest to expand or set up their businesses in the UAE," said Ramy Jallad, Group CEO of RAKEZ, RAK FTZ and RAKIA in an exclusive interview with Gulf Industry.

Cost-effective zone

Jallad: steering RAKEZ ahead

RAKEZ was recognised as the most cost-effective economic zone by the prestigious fDi Global Free Zones of the Year Awards 2017. Taking the Bespoke Category - Set-up Cost Reduction award, RAKEZ stood out from over 60 free zones from across the globe upon the evaluation of the Financial Times Specialist editorial team and an independent panel of judges.

As per the initiative, which was launched last year, the zone offers businesses a 10 per cent reduction on set up packages and 12-month instalment option with its three-year business plan. The easy payment plan allows investors to spread the instalment costs over 12 months, making payments more manageable.

"RAKEZ was just recently introduced but it has already been recognised for its cost-effectiveness, and we are truly ecstatic and proud for this achievement," he added.

Launched in April 2017, RAKEZ is one of the fastest-growing economic zones in the region. The authority boasts an ecosystem that is both nurturing and cost-effective, attracting more foreign direct investments to the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. It offers an expanded range of business solutions tailored for startups, SMEs and large manufacturing companies.

The investment hub currently comprises of six specialised zones including RAKEZ Business Zone, Al Hamra Industrial Zone, Al Ghail Industrial Zone, Al Hulaila Industrial Zone, RAKEZ Academic Zone and the Media Zone.

A new specialised zone is in the works and will be an added feature to Ras Al Khaimah that will boost its image as an ideal business destination in the region, helping attract more businesses to the emirate, Jallad added.

In addition, it has local offices in Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and international offices in India, Turkey and Germany.

The authority offers free zone and non-free zone licenses for companies operating in diverse industry sectors including, manufacturing, consulting, trading, logistics, academic, media and many more.

New initiatives

The investment hub continues to roll out new initiatives to attract diversified investment opportunities that will contribute to the economic growth of Ras Al Khaimah.

In the recent months, the authority has opened a new service centre at Al Hamra, which effectively supports the growth of businesses of all sizes and types in the emirate.

RAKEZ Business Excellence Awards winners

"The opening of our new service centre was aligned with our goal of providing an exceptional customer experience through our premier facilities and services. It has been developed with our clients' ease in mind, housing all our services under one location. This helps our clients accomplish more with less time and efforts," said Jallad.

"Other government entities will soon get on-board on the same location for the easier facilitation of processes and faster turnaround time of applications. Best of all, at our new location, visitors enjoy a chic and more relaxing interiors as we have fully integrated RAKEZ's fresh look and feel. This is just one of the many more one-stop shops that we are planning to build in the years to come," he added.

RAKEZ Service Centre Al Hamra was launched in Al Hamra area earlier last month to provide seamless processes and first-class services in a one-stop shop. Currently, RAKEZ is working on the development of other service centres, which will be announced later this year.

"RAKEZ is planning to develop its offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to become full service centres so companies can access its range of services more easily," said Jallad.

"We are also adding more staff and labour accommodations in our Industrial Zones as well as adding a showroom feature to our warehouses. This will help businesses that require both a warehouse and a showroom to have the two in one location, allowing them to operate more seamlessly," he added.

In another initiative, the zone has tied up with Sehteq, a startup company supported by RAK Incubator and Accelerator that offers unique health insurance schemes. Sehteq combines "Insurtech" and "Healthtech", the latest technologies in the insurance and health industries to offer optional medical coverage at competitive rates as well as 24/7 online support to the Zone's clients and their employees.

"We want to go the extra mile for our clients by thinking of out-of-the-box ways on how we can facilitate the growth of their business. Hence, we came up with offering them with a range of cost-effective and unique health insurance schemes through Sehteq, helping ensure that they maintain a healthy and productive workforce," said Jallad.

Sehteq has set up a kiosk at the investment hub's Business Zone where policy representatives are ready to provide a fast and seamless insurance application process. RAKEZ has also partnered with a third-party HR solutions provider to offer its clients with a HR software, which helps automate a huge number of HR functions and allows businesses to easily manage their workforce.

Apart from the new services, it has supported major SME and startup-focused events organised by RAK Incubator and Accelerator in the last six months. These include the Startup Weekend Ras Al Khaimah and the recently concluded pioneering Seaside Startup Summit in the UAE.

"RAKEZ has always shown strong support to the startup community and we are committed to keep connecting entrepreneurs and startups to investors who can help them take their ideas to the next level," he added. These are just among the many events and initiatives that we plan to take part in to promote the entrepreneurial spirit in the emirate, he said.

Furthermore, it has also worked with Ras Al Khaimah Department of Economic Development (RAK DED) in bringing the 2017 RAKEZ Business Excellence Awards. The awards programme takes place annually but this is the first time that it has celebrated the achievements of not only companies within RAKEZ but all the companies operating in the emirate.

"Our goal with this collaboration is to inspire excellence all around Ras Al Khaimah and build the image of the emirate as a rewarding investment destination for all businesses," he said.

"I would also like to note that our initiatives are focused not only at our clients but at our employees as well. When RAKEZ was launched, we laid out our objectives towards becoming number one in different aspects and one of them was to be the 'No 1 Employer of Choice'. So, we have gone through a lot of changes in terms of the organisation's structure as well as the benefits we provide to our staff," Jallad explained.

The authority has partnered with leading HR consultancy firms to conduct thorough studies such as Employee Engagement Study and Culture Study; series of focus group discussions, surveys and other activities to help determine where it is now and where it wants to be in terms of creating a more engaging, rewarding and fun work environment for its people.

To top it all, it has renovated its offices at RAKEZ Business Zone and converted the previously closed office to an open-space office. "We believe that tearing the walls down will help our employees collaborate more effectively, encourage transparency, and most importantly, build a better relationship with each other," he concluded.

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Publication:Gulf Industry
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Mar 1, 2018
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