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Expert Insight

Climbing the ladder: Chloe Hilton, Pacific

Chloe Hilton, Business Development Manager at Pacific, Al Marjan IslandReal estate across the UAE, and in particular, Ras Al Khaimah, has been through a transformative change over the past decade, especially in recent years. Once a relatively untapped desert haven, Ras Al Khaimah has utilised its natural beauty to become a preferred destination for holidaymakers, developers, and investors alike; with projects such as Al Marjan Island helping to spur regional and international interest in the emirate, underpinning the growth potential of the burgeoning area.

A major contributor to growth in the emirate is the tourism sector, which is improving year-on-year, underpinned by the dedication of Ras Al Khaimah’s Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), elevating the emirate to become one of the region’s fastest growing tourism destinations.

For 2018, RAKTDA set the prominent target of attracting one million annual visitors; based on Q1 results, it’s likely the emirate is well on track for achieving this goal. As a flourishing tourism hub, Ras Al Khaimah attracts holidaymakers from key international source markets including Germany, Russia, and the UK, with an influx from emerging markets including Czech Republic, Poland, and India.

Of course, Ras Al Khaimah’s close proximity to one of the world’s busiest transport hubs at Dubai International Airport is helping to draw visitors to the Northern Emirates, but it’s also important to note that Ras Al Khaimah International Airport has expanded significantly in recent years, too. Regular flights to key tourist source markets include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Poland, and the Czech Republic. It also offers seasonal flights to other destinations, including Latvia and Russia and, with plans to develop routes to more cities worldwide in the future, the airport will help to further facilitate growing visitor numbers each year.

It’s not just the tourism market driving Ras Al Khaimah’s development, either. The region has managed to draw thousands of international businesses as a base for their Middle East, Africa, and South Asia operations, attracted by its cost-efficiencies and strategic location. A few years ago, fDi Magazine, published by the Financial Times in the UK, ranked Ras Al Khaimah among the Top 10 Small and Mid-Sized Global Cities of the Future, along with the likes of Zurich, Geneva, and Edinburgh, which is something that I believe is really exciting for the region and its potential.

In a move that has assisted small and medium-sized enterprises to flourish, the RAK government launched the RAK Economic Zone last year, which is already being recognised as one of the world’s best free zones, with over 13,000 companies already listed in the zone. For businesses, the RAK Economic Zone offers a trading environment free from corporate and income taxes, and the ability to fully repatriate their profits. But, in what is perhaps the most attractive quality, it’s as much as 50% more affordable than free zones in other emirates such as Dubai, so it’s fair to assume we can expect the zone to continue its upward trajectory of growth in the coming years.

Moves such as these have seen Ras Al Khaimah’s economy rapidly expand, being rated as A/A-1 by Standard and Poor’s, and the ratings agency believes the emirate’s fiscal position will remain strong for the foreseeable future – a strong indication of the advancements the emirate is making across a variety of sectors.

The shifting business and leisure landscapes are also being reflected in the property market, with investors, holidaymakers, and homeowners from around the world choosing to purchase real estate. Up-and-coming areas include the prestigious, man-made Al Marjan Island, which has recently seen the completion of its first residential development, ‘Pacific’.

Compared to the likes of Dubai, property prices in Ras Al Khaimah offer investors affordability, in addition to easy access from airports and other emirates, and the sense of serenity and true relaxation, which can be hard to find in other emirates – it’s a perfectly unique blend of affordability and tranquil luxury.

Transforming into a destination in its own right, Al Marjan Island is already home to a collection of five-star hotels on the island, including the DoubleTree by Hilton, Rixos Bab Al Bahr, and the Marjan Island Resort and Spa, with as many as 15 more hotels in the pipeline. Around 18.5ha of mixed-use projects are also planned by global developer Emaar, including high-end residential projects, hotels, and shopping promenade, which will further draw visitors and buyers from around the world.

Savvy investors are increasingly setting sights on the island, with many drawing similarities to Dubai’s own man-made island, The Palm Jumeirah, in which early investors have enjoyed tremendous returns as the area developed. A current hub for development and progression for Ras Al Khaimah, Al Marjan Island is destined to play a pinnacle role as the heart of the emirate’s booming tourism sector and the wider economy, and thus it’s not unreasonable to suggest that investors could expect similar returns when investing in developments such as Pacific.

Setting the standard for properties on the Island, Pacific has recently recorded a significant number of Saudi and CIS investors and holidaymakers purchasing the beachfront apartments at affordable prices, with the development presenting an unmissable opportunity to invest early and achieve impressive long-term growth as interest in the area distends.

An attractive real estate proposition for residents, tourists, and investors, I’d encourage those looking to buy in the UAE to consider Ras Al Khaimah as a worthwhile investment, with property on Al Marjan Island a noteworthy consideration.

With the emirate promoting itself as a leisure and adventure destination, highlighted recently by the launch of the world’s longest zip-line at Jebel Jais, the continued demand from tourists, investors, and businesses is expected to rise; Ras Al Khaimah offers a story investment proposition for those seeking well-priced properties in the Middle East’s hub, the UAE.

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