Ras Al Khaimah retail economy growing despite tough competition

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A view of a hypermarket in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. Photo – Amira AlAmira/Flickr

Retailers in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) are hoping for a period of sustained growth, thanks to an increase in the number of tourists, more foreign direct investment and a growing economy, a report published by a British publication said.

The UAE’s emirate witnessed a massive boom in retail sector, with the opening of new malls and high-street outlets over the past few years. The government forecasts the economy to expand by around 8% this year.

Ras Al Khaimah has managed to increase its share of tourists income despite a tough competition from neighbouring emirates.

The report noted that the market has not yet reached its saturation point despite the growth. According to some estimates provided by the Oxford Business Group report, the gross leaseable area (GLA) for RAK’s retail sector is set to hit almost 200,000 sq. metres by 2015, more than double the figure in 2010. However, the emirate would have a per-capita GLA of 0.736 sq. metres, which is well below Dubai and less than half the projected figure for Abu Dhabi for 2015, which is expected to have almost 1.7 sq metres of retail space per person.

RAK Mall, the $110m mall which opened in April 2012, is the latest entry into the retail sector. Developed by the Abu Dhabi-based Lulu International Group, the mall has a total area of 93,000 sq. metres and is home to a Lulu hypermarket, a food court, an entertainment zone including an ice rink, and local and foreign brand-name retailers.

Reports suggested in mid-March that RAK Properties, the state-backed developer and operator, appointed real estate consultancy Colliers International to manage the retail development and leasing operations for both its Julphar Towers office and residential complex and the Mina Al Arab coastal residential and resort project.

The OBG report said Colliers will be attracting major international and regional retail brands especially from the jewellery, food and beverage, fast-moving consumer goods, fashion and consumer electronics sectors.

Despite an encouraging performance displayed by Ras Al Khaimah, the sheer size and variety on offer in Dubai and Abu Dhabi poses a strong challenge to the emirate’s local sector. Many brand-name outlets do not have a presence in RAK despite having a strong presence in the larger emirates, partly due to the fact that many who live in RAK actually work in Dubai.

RAK’s retail sector will be one of the beneficiaries of an expected surge in tourism over the next few years as state agencies estimate tourism arrivals will hit 1.2m by 2013, a figure that is expected to climb after the $1bn theme park, sports and real estate project, to be developed in partnership with Spanish football club Real Madrid, opens at the beginning of 2015.

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