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28 November 2023

Students from US university research RAK Ceramics’ rise

By Eman Al Baik

Students from Washington-based Georgetown University conducted a case study on RAK Ceramics this week as part of the emirate’s drive to attract investment.

The remarkable success story of RAK Ceramics has entered the management books of the MBA programme at Georgetown University in a case study authored by Kasra Ferdows, Heisley Family Chair Professor of Global Manufacturing, and Stanley D Nollen, both from the university’s McDonough School of Business.

RAK Ceramics, which started in 1991 with one factory producing just 5,000 square metres of tiles per day, has now become the largest single ceramic tile manufacturer in the world, producing 100 million sqm of tiles and three million pieces of sanitary ware annually from its 15 tile and four sanitary ware factories in six countries. The company exports to 135 countries across five continents.

Fifty-four students from the university visited RAK Ceramics and Professors Ferdows and Nollen presented a copy of the nine-month case study to Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.

The students, who are in the middle of a week-long visit to the UAE, came to visit the plant as part of their Global Experience programme.

Speaking to the group, Sheikh Saud said the success of RAK Ceramics was a clear example of how the emirate could exploit its competitive advantages in the manufacturing sector to create a global leader.

“Now we are trying to duplicate the success story of RAK Ceramics across other industries by helping entrepreneurs set up businesses and make use of the industrial advantages offered by the emirate through entities like Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (Rakia).”

Elaborating on what made them choose RAK Ceramics as a topic for academic study, Ferdows said: “From an academic point, we were fascinated by how a company located in a country not traditionally known in this industry could enter the market and grow rapidly – almost 30 per cent per year since its establishment.

“The export markets of tiles and sanitary ware were dominated by well-entrenched companies in Italy and Spain, and recently, China. There seemed to have been little room for a new entrant particularly from a distant place like Ras Al Khaimah, especially when the company had to import raw materials, machinery and labour. And yet the tile manufacturing complex of RAK Ceramics in Ras Al Khaimah was the largest in the world.”

He said the study found out that a combination of several factors were responsible for the company’s extraordinary success.

“A good chunk of it depended on the management and RAK Ceramics prided itself in the expertise of its top management and corporate officers and the solid leadership of its CEO, Dr Khater Massaad, who has been CEO since inception and the clear leader of the company.”

Meanwhile, the emirate has been working to attract global  educational players to invest in Dh10 billion International Hospitality Trade and Training Zone, which will offer programmes in hospitality and trade.