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Ras Al Khaimah, with its picturesque coastline and mountains, has reinvented itself for homeowners, investors and entrepreneurs over the past year. Image Credit: Shutterstock

At the Arabian Travel Market this week, the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) announced it would invest Dh500 million ($136m) in 20 sustainable tourism development projects across the emirate as part of a partnership with RAK Hospitality Holding and RAK Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The new projects are aligned with the emirate’s strategy to be the go-to destination for UAE residents and tourists around the world, with a focus on nature, leisure, adventure, accessibility and authenticity. Over the next year the emirate will expand around 6,700 keys, adding many on its Jebel Jais mountain.

A more affordable alternative to Dubai

Tourism is just one sector where RAK has grabbed the headlines. Over the past year, while the Covid-19 pandemic raged across the world, the emirate (with its picturesque coastline and mountains) reinvented itself for homeowners, investors and entrepreneurs. Those looking to find a more affordable alternative to Dubai, finds the emirate perfectly suitable for living or setting up businesses.

Benoy Kurien, Group CEO, Al Hamra

Benoy Kurien, Group Chief Executive Officer, Al Hamra says, “The work done by RAKTDA in the area of destination promotion is not only noteworthy but also commendable. RAKTDA continues to invest not only in destination promotion but also in tourism infrastructure at the mountains, desert, beaches and malls that enhances the appeal of the emirate to all age groups.”

Kurien explains that over the years interaction with many residents and homeowners has driven home the fact that, “due to the quality of life offered in the UAE, many of them wanted long term residency at affordable prices along with their homes.”

Live and work opportunity

Keeping that in mind, Al Hamra has partnered with Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ), to offer investors an unparalleled opportunity called “Live and Work” which enables investors to secure a 12-year residence visa and a business licence when they purchase a ready-to-move-in home in one of our master-planned communities in Ras Al Khaimah. “Since its launch, we recorded strong investor response for our ready-to-move-in homes in Al Hamra Village and Bab Al Bahr residential communities in Ras Al Khaimah,” says Kurien.

Data available from Property Monitor also points to the huge potential the emirate has in terms of real estate development. Several developers have already launched projects to add to the emirate’s housing supply, most of it the Mina Al Arab and Al Marjan Island. In 2021 more homes are scheduled for completion in the Al Hamra Village in 2021. Emaar Properties is also scheduled to complete The Address Serviced Apartment Buildings on Marjan Island (234 units) in December 2021.

Making it easy for global investors

Ramy Jallad, CEO, RAKEZ

RAKEZ CEO, Ramy Jallad, says, “To attract investment into the emirate, we’re focusing on making it easy for global investors to set up shop in the emirate. Pre-pandemic, RAKEZ was already leveraging tech tools to tap its market – and in 2020, we were quick to adapt as we have already been utilising different digital strategies. We transformed our business set-up procedures, now allowing investors to register their company online: from submitting applications to issuing the licence. All of our existing services have also been made available online through RAKEZ Portal 360 – a self-service client portal where investors can submit service requests, settle their balance and even download important documents related to their company. We’ve also expanded our reach by holding virtual events where we are able to tap into new markets and meet potential investors remotely.”

Talking about the “Live and Work” collaboration with Al Hamra, Jallad says, This will allow global investors to fully take advantage of Ras Al Khaimah’s work, live and play environment cost-effectively.”

For SMEs RAKEZ also offers a vibrant and supportive environment. “Majority of the 15,000 RAKEZ clients are SMEs operating in various fields, such as trading, e-commerce, media, education and more. We recently launched a dedicated co-working centre (RAKEZ Compass Coworking Centre) to encourage the entire community to connect and network with likeminded individuals as they work. It has private and open coworking spaces – ideal to test the market. It also offers on-demand meeting rooms, recording studio and event space. We also have private and customisable offices – for growing SMEs looking to build a permanent market presence,” Jallad says, highlighting the Ras Al Khaimah Industrial Strategy 2030, which aims to increase manufacturing GDP and jobs in the emirate in the coming years.

A new opportunity to reinvent

As a developer, Kurien says, “the pandemic presented us a new opportunity to evaluate our offerings and redesign our products that will be crucial to the economy’s recovery and in promoting Ras Al Khaimah as one of the leading investment destinations in the region. We are encouraged by the positive response from investors. We believe that similar bundled, tailormade products like Live and Work will continue to attract the upper middle class and aspirational people, especially in a post Covid-19 world, to take advantage of living in less populated and more affordable communities without compromising on quality of life.”

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Image Credit: GN archive

Kurien observes that with employers in the region more willing to allow work from home and road, medical and education infrastructure in the UAE being world class, “end-users no longer need to live in the centre of the city and so are moving to less populated areas that offer great lifestyle. We received strong interest from expatriates in the UAE and investors from across the wider Middle East, North Africa region and Asia for Al Hamra’s ready-to-move-in apartments and seafront villas linked to our property visa package. Meanwhile, the properties overlooking the golf course have been in high demand amongst European and Korean investors.”

Even for short-term rentals, Al Hamra Village and Bab Al Bahr have been preferred destinations of choice for short-terms rentals. “Admired for the scenic vistas of the Arabian Gulf, the integrated gated communities offer direct beach access and have a range of amenities for families including swimming pools, gyms, kids play areas, supermarkets, pharmacies, F&B outlets and beauty salons in addition to exceptional leisure choice such as Yacht Club, Marina and Championship golf course for its residents,” he adds.