Ras Al Khaimah – UAE, 16 February 2017: Ras Al Khaimah Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted a high-level Belgian delegation led by Pieter De Crem, Belgian Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, to explore investment opportunities, enhance economic relations between both sides and bolster means of cooperation.
The meeting was part of the Belgian delegation's visit to the UAE, organized by the UAE Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in cooperation with the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, from 12-17 February to discuss joint investment opportunities between both countries.
Dr. Ahmed Al Shemaili, Assistance Director General, Commercial Services and Business Development Sector, RAK Chamber, emphasized the historical relations between the UAE and Belgium, highlighting that the UAE in general and the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah in particular strive to build strong and outstanding relations with various countries of the world in all fields, with particular focus on the commercial arena which has become the active instrument and main driver of the economy.
Al Shemaili added that the meeting was a valuable opportunity to exchange opinions about further means of cooperation and to explore investment opportunities between Ras Al Khaimah and Belgium. He emphasized that RAK Chamber is committed to serving the business sector in every possible way. The chamber had worked over the past years to develop and update its services and strategic partnerships to better serve public and private sectors, he added.
Mr. De Crem expressed gratitude in his speech to RAK Chamber for hosting the Belgian delegation, and he considered it a successful beginning to explore the means of expanding cooperation in economic fields between both parties. He added that the delegation, which included representatives from several sectors such as construction, consultation, food and engineering, expects to fully explore the Northern Emirates.
Mr. De Crem highlighted the products made by Belgium and the expertise of Belgian companies in several industrial and technological sectors, supply, catering, and construction amongst others. He explained that Belgium offers many investment opportunities to UAE companies and emphasized the strength of economic and commercial relations between both countries and also that the delegation is striving to expand such relations through business meetings during their current visit to UAE.
Emad Al Deen Obeiri, Director of the Department of Investment Promotion at RAK Chamber, noted that Belgium is one of the world's fastest-growing economies. He also highlighted the growth being witnessed by Ras Al Khaimah, noting that its foreign trade amounted to 9 billion in 2015, local exports amounted to around AED 3.6 billion, imports amounted to AED 3 billion and re-export amounted to AED 2.4 billion in 2015. RAK is also one of the fastest growing economies in the Middle East, with an annual average growth of 8.8 between 2011 and 2015. Obeiri said that trade value between Belgium and Ras Al Khaimah amounted to AED 10.013 million from 2013 until 2015, whereas the number of Belgian companies registered at RAK Chamber amounted to 19 companies operating in 40 trade activities.
Obeiri added that the Emirate's economy enjoys high confidence with an A/A short and long-term credit rating from Fitch and a recently affirmed A/A-1 rating from Standard & Poor's. He also presented a number of major projects in Ras Al Khaimah and demonstrated the advantages of investing in the Emirate, which contains a variety of industries, with manufacturing contributing 33% to RAK's GDP.
RAK Tourism Development Authority presented the tourism investment opportunities in Ras al Khaimah, highlighted the development witnessed by this sector in the Emirate and emphasizing that Belgium is one of the promising markets for Ras Al Khaimah tourism, which targets 1.1 million visitors to the Emirate by 2019.
RAK Maritime City presented a video that explains the growth of the Emirate's ports and the services they offer, highlighting also the strategic location of Ras Al Khaimah as an outstanding investment destination. In addition, RAK Free Zone Authority, RAK Investment Authority, and Al Hamra Real Estate Development Company delivered presentations about the advantages enjoyed by the Emirate as an attractive investment destination. RAK Free Zone explained the registration mechanism and the services it offers to investors, while Al Hamra Real Estate gave an overview of its projects, the development witnessed by the real estate sector in Emirate, and the company's contribution to the development of the Emirate's tourism.
The meeting was attended by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of RAK Department of Customs, Yousef Al Nuaimi, Chairman of RAK Chamber, Dominique Mineur, Belgium's ambassador to the UAE, Ahmed Al Shemaili, Assistant Director General of Commercial Services and Business Development Sector, Ramy Jallad, CEO of RAK Free Zone and Investment Authority, and a number of officials and investors in the Emirate.