If you are an international traveler or business professional, you have probably considered visiting the United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates is comprised of seven individual members: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, Fujairah, and Umm Al Quwain. While Dubai may be the most desirable international destination, it is far from the only place worth visiting in the region. In fact, as HH Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi continues to focus on growing the tourism industry in Ras Al Khaimah, the rest of the world is starting to take notice. Let’s explore together the growth of Ras Al Khaimah as well as the surging tourist sector that has everyone talking.
Understanding Ras Al Khaimah
First and foremost, a legitimate understanding of Ras Al Khaimah will require a closer look at the history of the region. Ras Al Khaimah has been home to continuous human inhabitation for more than 7,000 years. As a result of this deeply rooted history, Ras Al Khaimah is home to fascinating historical sites ranging from the Dhaya Fort to the glorious Sheba’s Palace. Sheba’s Palace has long been considered one of the true historical treasures of the region, so visitors must be sure to visit when in the area.
While the history of Ras Al Khaimah is intrinsic to the growth directed by RAK ruler Sheikh Saud, the tourism sector is seen as the future of the Emirate. Unlike the other emirates in the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah was never able to lean on the production of oil as a primary industry. In fact, Ras Al Khaimah is the only emirate to have never discovered oil on its land. This has resulted in Ras Al Khaimah’s considerably slower growth in certain fields. With that being said, the region has experienced explosive economic growth despite the lack of oil production. Let’s take a closer look at some of the more important recent economic advancements.
Growing Tourism Industry of RAK
Ras Al Khaimah has rapidly been growing into an affordable and equally entertaining alternative to hotspot destinations like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The reason for Ras Al Khaimah’s surging growth has been largely due to the work being done by Sheikh Saud as well as the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority. Due to their shared work, the country has seen considerable surge in growth over the years. We can look to 2018 statistics curated by the Tourism Development Authority for 2018 which reveal more than one million visitors from domestic and integral international markets throughout the year.
One of the primary reasons for Ras Al Khaimah’s surge in tourism in 2018 came down to the opening of the Jebel Jais Flight, the longest zipline on the planet. The Jebel Jais Flight introduced more than 25,000 riders within its first year. The continued implementation of tourism destinations like the Jebel Jais Flight has helped to bring employment to the region as well, thus showcasing surging numbers in the tourism job sector. According to numbers compiled by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, visitor spending in 2018 amounted to roughly USD 37.3 billion, or roughly 8.6% of Ras Al Khaimah’s entire GDP.
As Ras Al Khaimah continues to focus on growth within the tourism and hospitality sector, expect continued job growth numbers to improve. According to recent statistics curated by the PR Newswire, Ras Al Khaimah has more than 1,117 hotels with an occupancy rate comprised of 83% international visitors. As can plainly be seen, these numbers are showing that Ras Al Khaimah is becoming a true destination for more than just tourism as the business sector heats up around it.
Outside of the tourism sector, Ras Al Khaimah’s economy can be tied to real estate, building materials, agriculture, and manufacturing. Sheikh Saud has adapted pro-international business policies in order to implore more companies to relocate to the industry. According to the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Database, Ras Al Khaimah’s score rose to 77.52 in 2019, thus allowing the growing emirate to break into the Top 30 destinations in the world. The Ease of Doing Business score is a comprehensive metric that showcases how difficult it is for a foreign company to begin working in the region.