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Gulf connection

July 24, 2008

As the head of Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA), Khater Massad has the ear of the most important man in the UAE: Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, the Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. End June, Massad was in Bangalore (he piloted his own plane to the new airport) to court and be courted. After all, RAK has big plans in India: these range from $4-billion investment in IT and hospitality in Tamil Nadu to a $2-billion aluminium smelter in Andhra Pradesh to expansion of its ceramics business with a new plant and then a $2-billion real estate venture. “There is a huge market here for us and we’re eager to tap this opportunity,” says Massad, who took the opportunity to address the 12th convocation of IFIM Business School in the city.

RAKIA’s Massad: Courting India
RAKIA’s Massad: Courting India
Besides investing in India, Massad wants to make his region a magnet for Indian companies looking to target the West Asian market. “We want to be the #1 choice for Indian companies targeting the local market,” declares Massad. He’s willing to walk the talk, too, pointing to the $2-billion foreign investment attracted by RAK in the last two years “We have attracted 50 companies from India from industries such as polyester, automobiles and steel. We also want to attract Indian IT companies and we’re building a 250-acre IT park to attract technology companies, especially from Bangalore,” he says.

RAK is willing to roll out the red carpet to attract these companies: 100 per cent repatriation of earnings, easy import and export of people and raw materials and waiving of corporate, sales and other taxes are just some incentives to invest in the region. And just to make sure you can get there, RAK Air, the principality’s own carrier, plans to expand its network in India. From flying just to Calicut in Kerala, the airline should soon fly to Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Nagpur. Now, that’s a business model you can’t beat.

Rahul Sachitanand

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