Ras Al Khaimah – The Gateway to the Rest of the World
Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is the 4th largest and northern most emirate of the United Arab Emirates and is now viewed as a strategic gateway to the Middle East, Africa and Asia, due to its geostrategic location in the Arabian Gulf. RAK is only 45 minutes from Dubai International Airport and the Emirate is only a 4-hour flight time to 31% of the world’s population. Foreign tourists visiting RAK typically arrive through Dubai International Airport (DXB), the busiest airport for international arrivals in the world. In 2016 alone, Dubai Airports recorded a total of 83,654,250 passengers - a 7% increase from 2015 (Source: Colliers International, 2017). Passenger traffic is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 6% annually from 2016 onwards (Source: Colliers International, 2017) – impressive stats indeed as we head towards Dubai Expo 2020, where 25 million visitors are expected in the Expo’s 6-month duration.
Ras Al Khaimah also has its own airport, which is fast emerging as a leading UAE alternative airport to Dubai & Abu Dhabi, connecting the UAE with the rest of the world. Ras Al Khaimah International Airport marked 2016 as the most successful year in its history with record passenger numbers, aircraft movements and cargo handled. The airport welcomed a record 471,432 passengers last year – an increase of 52%, against 309,591 passengers in 2015 (Source: Department of Civil Aviation, Ras al-Khaimah).
Ras Al Khaimah airport is also expected to launch more international charter flights. RAKTDA has recently signed a number of agreements to grow international visitors to Ras Al Khaimah, including Qatar Airways, Royal Brunei, Emirates and Air Arabia. Recently Air Arabia airline initiated direct services from RAK to Jeddah, Cairo and Muscat; cities in Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh; and to be followed by Calicut in India. Additionally, future plans have been announced for the airport to increase the number of tourist passengers, by attracting charter flights (i.e. TUI, Novair, etc.), low cost carriers and other airlines.
As of February 2017, Qatar Airways operates a direct flight from Ras Al Khaimah to Doha. Through Qatar Airways, Ras Al Khaimah will have stronger connections to the wider world, including existing tourism source markets in Europe, the CIS, Russia, China and India. In 2016, Russian visitors grew by 19.5%, while Indian visitor arrivals grew 28% over the same period. Ras Al Khaimah is also witnessing rapid growth from emerging markets such as Scandinavia, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic and Poland (Source: Colliers International, 2017).