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RAK free zone chief predicts influx of tech and hotel suppliers

Ramy Jallad, CEO of Rakez, said the number of companies at the zone had risen from 18,000 in Q2 Rakez
Ramy Jallad, CEO of Rakez, said the number of companies at the zone had risen from 18,000 in Q2
  • Wynn resort driving interest in emirate
  • RAK ’emerging as a new powerhouse’
  • 20,000 companies based at economic zone

Technology and hospitality companies are set to flock to Ras Al Khaimah to work on Wynn Al Marjan Island, a $3.9 billion resort now under construction, the chief executive of RAK’s largest business free zone has told AGBI.

Ramy Jallad, chief executive of Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (Rakez), said the Wynn development had “a lot of vendors and suppliers attached to it, many of which follow the company around the world, from software and security, to catering and fitout”.

He added: “These companies are wanting to establish a presence in the vicinity so they can cater to the resort – and we’ve been ready, we’ve been talking with them. We’ve engaged with many vendors and suppliers that are setting up entire businesses to serve that development.”

The resort from the Las Vegas-based group is due to open in 2027. It will have 1,000 rooms and an 18,500 sq m casino – a first for the UAE. 

Wynn suppliers setting up shop in the emirate are likely to drive the next chapter of expansion at Rakez, which has recorded roughly 10 percent growth in registrations every year since the pandemic, Jallad said. 

As of early October, 20,021 companies were based at the free zone, which was founded in 2017. This is up from around 14,500 in 2019 and 2020, 16,500 in 2022 and 18,000 in the second quarter of this year, Jallad said. 

“Tourism has always been a major economic driver in Ras Al Khaimah and indirectly it brings in a lot of businesses,” he added. “With the casino plans, we’re starting to be seen as a destination for software applications in e-sports, video games and other gaming technologies that people are developing across the world.”

Gaming technology presents big opportunities for RAK’s economic growth, according to Jallad. He pointed to plans by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism and Development Authority to ensure “responsible gaming” in the emirate, while the UAE government set up a General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority in September.  

A family visits a date farm in RAK. Tourism is a 'major economic driver,' says Ramy JalladRas Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority
A family visits a date farm in RAK. Tourism is a ‘major economic driver’ for the emirate, says Ramy Jallad

Other types of technology company are keen to set up in RAK too, Jallad said. These include businesses specialising in hospitality software, such as the tools that hotel guests use to close curtains or control TVs. 

“It’s a very exciting time for RAK,” he said. “The world is changing, business is changing. You can see a lot of entrepreneurs coming in and we’re emerging as a new powerhouse to rival other emirates.” 

The top industries at Rakez are manufacturing, general trading, retail (including e-commerce), building materials and equipment trading, and technology – particularly back-office IT functions. 

The top source markets for companies at the zone are India, the UK and Pakistan, followed by France, Russia, Egypt, Germany and the GCC. 

In October, ratings agency S&P upgraded the long-term outlook for RAK from “stable” to “positive”. Tourism and infrastructure projects including Wynn Al Marjan Island could strengthen the emirate’s growth prospects over the next two to three years, it said.