Ras Al Khaimah's economy is expected to achieve a 10 per cent growth rate this year despite the global economic slowdown, a top official has revealed.
"Over the past few years, Ras Al Khaimah has been launching cautious, realistic, pragmatic initiatives in tourism and the industrial sector as the emirate has a non-oil economy," said Hassan Hamdan Al Alkim, Director-General of the Ras Al Khaimah Government's Economic Development Department.
"We know our economy is smaller than those of some other emirates or even across the region. But when we compare our figures and expectations, which have been based on pragmatic policies, we are working hard despite our limited resources.
"We expect our economy to grow by up to 10 per cent in 2009. Even if it does not reach that level I can assure you it will be the highest rate of any emirate. In other words, compared to other emirates we expect to be the least affected by the current crisis."
Al Alkim, who is also a professor of political science at the UAE University at Al Ain, said Ras Al Khaimah's gross domestic product in 2008 was Dh13 billion – an increase of 14 per cent on the previous year.
Recent forecasts for growth rates for the whole UAE this year range from two to four per cent.
"Industrialisation is the main pillar of our economic development even though it is something many economies have abandoned in favour of alternatives that would provide quick returns," he said.
The emirate has become known regionally and internationally thanks to companies such as RAK Ceramics and Julphar (Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries).
"Tourism is another major contributor to our economy and we are working to develop this sector further. None of the top-ranking hotel chains that announced plans to expand their activities in RAK last year has cancelled them. Some projects have already opened and others are on schedule to open later in the year.
"We have a non-oil economy and we know we have challenges and issues to tackle. But at the same we prefer not to exaggerate so we will disclose further plans in the tourism sector at the right time.
"RAK has been emerging in recent years as an attractive destination for tourism and a route for companies to enter the UAE market and the region. It provides more cost-effective services in a variety of sectors."