by Andrew White
These are exciting times for two of the UAE’s less celebrated emirates, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman. Each has, perhaps, lain in the shadow of Dubai and Abu Dhabi for too long. Yet, just possibly, now is their time to shine.
This week’s eight-page special on Ras Al Khaimah paints a vivid picture of an emirate on the cusp of something special. The airport is expanding, a seven-star hotel is under construction, there are plans for a spaceport, huge sums are being lavished on improving infrastructure and providing accommodation for both residents and tourists, and they are even building the world’s longest indoor ski slope for those of us wilting under the hot desert sun.
Mina Al Arab, though by no means the only major development underway in the emirate, will boast three kilometers of natural beach, something not even Dubai can offer its increasingly cramped residents. Developers are looking to the mountains too, another fine move from an emirate clearly determined to make the best of its striking natural resources.
From the nation’s northernmost emirate, to its smallest, and the new US$4 billion Emirates City that — it is hoped — will attract serious international investment. The project consists of around 72 residential and commercial properties and will encompass picturesque lakes, lush green parks, a shopping district, mosques, luxury hotels, and key educational and health facilities.
The freehold project will immediately be made available for purchase to both UAE residents and expatriates, and developers hope to attract a truly diverse population from the Middle East and beyond. Within easy distance of Dubai, RAK, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain and Abu Dhabi, the emirate boasts that which, again, Dubai struggles to provide — namely affordable prices and a peaceful existence free of gridlocked traffic and incessant noise.
This is not to besmirch Dubai or to disregard the emirate’s achievements. Dubai lies at the heart of the modern Middle East, whether as a destination for business or tourism. However, it is highly encouraging to see neighbouring emirates beat a different path to their bustling, 24/7 cousin. Both RAK and Ajman are aiming higher than simple mimicry — they are aiming to establish themselves as unique, attractive destinations that can only help to highlight the breadth and diversity of the UAE.
Source: “The Arabian Business”, 25 June 2006