Ras Al Khaimah is one of the emirates of the United Arab Emirates in the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering Oman. It is ruled by Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad al-Qassimi and has a population of about 250,000 inhabitants.
The city itself as at 2007 had a population of 191,753 and has two main sections, Old Ras Al Khaimah and Nakheel (no relation to the property developer), which lie on either side of the creek which flows through Ras Al Khaimah.
RAK may be small, but it has big plans and is pumping money into several ambitious property projects – 31 real estate developments are underway or at the planning stage.
It is also a growing tourist destination, particularly among those already living in the GCC or who want to visit the region but don’t want the hustle and bustle of the ever developing Dubai. RAK can offer both a beach and mountain experience.
The government is predicting that by 2020 the city’s sub-200,000 population will have leapt to over 750,000.
In order to generate this kind of increase in population, several new projects are underway – Mangroves Island, which will house 16,000 people, the three-phase Mina Al Arab, the 270 hectare Marjan Island, which will house 10,000 residents once complete and the smaller Emirates Gateway, that will have a population of 2,500.
Attempting to push the population from 200k to 750k over such a short space of time presents some obvious logistical problems, not least of which is building the necessary infrastructure to cope with that increase. Basics such as power, water and sewage will need to be built from the ground up.
Projects are in place to deal with the issue, although one thing we found interesting is the fact that RAK is looking at using coal fired plants to provide the necessary power.
Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are facing the problem of housing both the local population and the army of construction workers drafted in from all over the world. By far the bulk of the developments in both states have focused on the luxury sector which is out of reach financially for many and new initiatives are beginning to deal with the problem. RAK will likely face the same issue.
The driving force behind this desire for development seems to be the fact that many are seeing RAK as a suburb of Dubai. Although, Mark Morris Jones of CB Richard Ellis disagrees and says, “Ras Al Khaimah has its own character that is dictated in a large part by the natural landscape and people that you have here. And those two things together are far too strong to let that happen. There’s going to be a definitive point of difference and that’s what they have to concentrate on and perpetuate. And what it will mean is that RAK will become an independent emirate. It will not become a suburb of anything.”
Certainly, the emirate has some ambitious plans and should be an attractive proposition for overseas investors – whether it will be a pleasant place to live with this much construction planned over the next 10-15 years is another question altogether.