RAS AL KHAIMAH, UAE, March 8 /CNW/ - In the face of 2009's financial adversity, Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) forged on and emerged ahead of its game, joining the ranks of top-performing free zones in rebuilding confidence in the world economy.
In the past year, RAK FTZ kept its eye on the ball by stepping up its activities and introducing initiatives on a number of fronts, which not only enhanced its marketing and customer-relations programmes but also demonstrated its ongoing commitment to the local community. As a result, the free zone was able to accomplish more than it set out to do and continued to enjoy a steady increase in new company registrations and revenue, which grew by 10 and 11 per cent respectively, as compared to 2008.
"The progress we made in 2009 can be attributed to the fact that we knew the financial reality we were facing and strategised based on that reality. We drew and implemented action plans that saw us through the crisis," comments Oussama El Omari, RAK FTZ CEO. He adds "We needed to put our best efforts towards support in the local economy, by attracting new businesses and investment to the UAE, and this required us to be visible, both locally and internationally and strive to be the best in our product sector. Also, we needed to widen our scope. One of our main focuses now is to support SMEs - because a blooming SME industry is one of the most vital signs of a flourishing economy."
RAK FTZ's efforts to enhance its visibility internationally and reach new markets involved 158 activities in 2009 alone, which mainly targeted key markets, like Jordan, Syria, India, Lebanon, Pakistan and Egypt. Through its participation in conventions and trade fairs, advertising campaigns and road shows, the free zone promoted special offers to road show and exhibition visitors and media and business associations.
Within the last four years, this programme for information dissemination and continuous education about RAK FTZ products and services have effectively enhanced RAK FTZ's worldwide reach, proving to be most prolific between 2006 to 2007, with a jump from 2,768 to 4,309 companies, and 2007 and 2008, when a 12 per cent increase was recorded.
Of the total of 1,935 new company registrations in 2009, India led the way, with 37 per cent new companies registered, followed by the UK, with 12 per cent. In the Middle East, Egypt topped the list of new registrations, with 6 per cent; meanwhile, the activities of the companies doing business in the free zone could be divided among following sectors - 64% trading with warehousing facilities, 26% consulting and services, 3% industrial, and 7% general trading.
Some of RAK FTZ's new registrations topping in 2009 in terms of investment were Dolphin International FZC (RAK Duty Free), Ballistic Solutions Emirates FZE, Capdec Paints FZC, Middle East Spark Trading FZE, Thermal Ceramics, and Max Marine FZC.
One of RAK FTZ's ongoing objectives is to strengthen its brand by meeting and exceeding the needs and expectations of existing and future clients. In line with this, RAK FTZ organised a number of camaraderie-building activities in 2009, such as Business Breakfast and RAK FTZ Golf & Networking Day, to promote friendship, open communication and a steady exchange of ideas among its members. RAK FTZ also introduced a number of value-added services in 2009, such as the dedicated German desk. Manned by German-speaking personnel, the desk aids clients with everything from visa processing to setting-up offices at the RAK FTZ Business Centre.
Additionally, RAK FTZ re-launched 'Free Spirit' the bi-monthly newsletter, which quickly grew from 26 to 40 pages tackling a variety of topics of interest to its stakeholders, including the most recent companies to join RAK FTZ, upcoming activities and the best tourist spots in and around town, and much more. To keep pace with current trends in communications, marketing and customer care, the Free Zone also delved into the realm of social media, establishing a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, where it actively shares its latest news and announcements and interacts with current and prospective clients and other interested parties.
Underlining its commitment to the environment, RAK FTZ held industry-leading meetings during the year, to educate its clients about the much-awaited Environmental Performance Card, participated in several 'Clean Up' campaigns, and in the last quarter of 2009, sponsored the second Desert Protection Campaign to help preserve the UAE's pristine desert environments.
The year 2009 also saw the efforts of RAK FTZ recognised by a number of award-giving bodies. Starting early in the year, RAK FTZ received prizes in four categories at the Sheikh Saqr Programme for Government Excellence, namely 'Distinguished Governmental Department of the Year 2008', 'Mystery Shopper', 'Distinguished Organised Unit for 2008' and 'Applying Standards - Processes'. Later on, it was voted the 'Best Emerging Free Zone' for the third consecutive year by the Middle East Logistics Awards (MELA) and was also awarded the 'Industrial Area of the Year Award' by the Supply Chain and Transport Awards (SCATA). Furthermore, its evolving website was recognised as the 'Best Website' at the 9th World Free Zone Convention (WFZC).
These distinctions are the direct result of RAK FTZ's commitment to become the preferred business hub of the Middle East and mark the path for its historic 10-year anniversary, which will be celebrated in May 2010, with not only fanfare but also a review of its last 10 years' performance and a renewed dedication to continue to improve in all aspects.
"We are committed to doing everything we can to contribute to the generation of new jobs, the growth of our economy and the preservation of our environment," El Omari shared. "This year, as we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we reflect on the time that has passed and plan for the future. It is another era that we are entering, and we look forward to it with much excitement."
The year ahead holds a lot of promise. The free zone plans to strengthen its positioning as a business hub geared at helping SMEs to connect to emerging economies, target new key markets such as Turkey, Russia, South Africa and the USA, launch its Mazeed Services, continue to improve its products and services, and increase registrations by 15%, with approximately 2250 additional companies. In 2010, the free zone will further prove that it is, indeed, what its slogan states - The Home of Business.
Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) is a world-class business hub and a vehicle for industrial growth and development. The free trade zone, with its cutting-edge technology and keen customer focus, offers on-demand and custom-built support services to investors in a cost-effective and flexible environment. The free trade zone also offers a range of unique services, which include legal, human resources and marketing assistance.
RAK FTZ has created a unique four-park system comprised of Business Park, Industrial Park, Technology Park and Academy Zone, each of which offers identical advantages and benefits to investors. Backed by legislations allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership, a tax-free environment, transparent laws and 100 per cent capital and profit repatriation, the free trade zone is well positioned for global commerce.
Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone is one of the fastest growing free trade zones, with companies from 106 countries around the globe. For more information, visit http://www.rakftz.com; or follow us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/rakftz), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ras-Al-Khaimah-Free-Trade-Zone-Authority/214396565557?ref=nf), and YouTube(http://www.youtube.com/user/rakftz).
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SOURCE RAS AL KHAIMAH FREE TRADE ZONE AUTHORITY
For further information: For further information: Cleo Eleazar, Public Relations and Media Officer, Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone Authority (RAK FTZA), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: +971-7-2077173