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RAK officials expect economic boon from beauty boot camp

Rakia hopes a boot camp for Miss Germany contestants will lure German tourists and businesses in the hi-tech sector.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // The RAK Investment Authority hopes a boot camp for Miss Germany contestants will show off the emirate as it tries to lure German tourists and businesses in the hi-tech sector. RAK has been better known for feeding the growth of the other emirates with its construction firms, cement factories and limestone quarries, but Serge Guillaume, the executive director of Rakia, is working to project a more glamorous image.

"Everybody knows Dubai and Abu Dhabi," Mr Guillaume said. "Now we have to do a few things to put our name on the map." A week before the Miss Germany competition ends, all 23 finalists will attend a camp at the Al Hamra Fort Hotel and Beach Resort in RAK. There, they will learn how to pose and be interviewed as German television cameras record the camp, and the location. Mr Guillaume said the emirate did not pay the Miss Germany Corporation any money for the advertising, instead providing goods and services, including use of the hotel.

The Al Hamra resort is one of RAK's largest and 40 per cent of its visitors are from Germany, according to Hilary McCormack, the manager of RAK Tourism. "We realised that by partnering with the Miss Germany Corporation the emirate of RAK will be exposed to millions more during the camp," Ms McCormack said. RAK has taken a page out of Dubai's planning book to make the emirate more appealing. Development is under way for a luxury hotel, a man-made island called Al Marjan and an indoor ski hill in the Hajjar Mountains.

The emirate has set a goal of 2.5 million visitors by 2012 and said it plans to build 7,500 hotel rooms. Abu Dhabi expects 2.7 million tourists by 2012 and has said it needs 25,000 rooms to accommodate them. Dubai expects 10 million by 2010. Miss Germany has been holding camps for its contestants in sunny locales, including Spain and Egypt, for the past five years. While the contestants will wear bikinis at the camp, organisers have promised to respect the UAE's traditional culture.

jgerson@thenational.ae

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