'This is for the people I'm privileged to lead': Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah given top accolade at UAE awards
Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi reflects on the rapid economic growth of the emirate
The Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah has been named Visionary Leader of the Year.
At an awards ceremony, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member, thanked the leadership of the UAE, the people of Ras Al Khaimah and those who have inspired his work.
He said the honour was "not just for myself but for the people I am privileged to lead in Ras Al Khaimah".
“The people of Ras Al Khaimah, both Emiratis and expatriates, all contribute to making the emirate a fantastic place to live, work and visit,” he said, at the Arabian Business magazine awards.
“This award also honours the progress Ras Al Khaimah has made in recent years.
“I thank the leadership of the UAE, who have created a safe and prosperous home for people from across the globe.
"Without their vision, the UAE would not be the great country it is today.
“Some people want to achieve things in their lifetime but what’s more important is to make a mark for generations to come, and that’s what I seek to achieve.
“My time on this earth is finite. Ras Al Khaimah’s success should be endless.”
The emirate has propelled itself to the forefront of adventure tourism in the region, boosting visitor numbers by about 14 per cent in 2018.
With sprawling mountains paired with white sandy beaches, RAK offers something a little different from elsewhere in the country, and is perfect for those who enjoy the great outdoors.
The world’s longest zipline can be found nestled in the peaks of the Hajar mountains, and climbing, camping, mountain biking and kayaking are other popular sports attracting adventurers.
In March, Ras Al Khaimah set a record with a hotel occupancy rate of 87.5 per cent. More than 10,000 people have so far taken on the Toro Verde zipline at Jebel Jais.
Its slightly cooler climate has contributed to its status as a year-round tourist destination, with those looking to escape the summer heat elsewhere in the Emirates.
Golf has also featured heavily in attracting international visitors to RAK, with Al Hamra Golf Course cementing its status as the final event in the European Challenge Tour for the next three years.
Russians have played a big role in boosting visitor numbers, with tourist figures up 50 per cent since 2017.
Ras Al Khaimah's population is 345,000, 31 per cent of which is Emirati.
Although much of the development of RAK has created an adventure playground in the natural environment, attention has also turned to protecting the distinct wildlife found in the area.
A three-square-kilometre wetland nature reserve in Khor Mazahmi will be the first protected site in RAK, providing sanctuary for pink flamingos and the critically endangered green turtle.
The RAK economy has been growing steadily at a rate of between five and seven per cent in each of the past five years.
For the past decade, Ras Al Khaimah has been consistently rated ‘A’ by international rating agencies, and already, the emirate is home to about 15,000 businesses, with up to 37,000 companies from 100 countries having trade licences here.
"Ras Al Khaimah has changed significantly in a short period of time," said Sheikh Saud in his acceptance speech.
"Historically, we were known as seafarers and traders then we became a place of industry – rocks, ceramics, ports, pharmaceuticals, and while we are still providing the raw materials for the region’s biggest projects, we have diversified our economy further.
"We see great potential and promise in our growing tourism sector.
"Fifteen years ago we had only one five-star hotel but today we have many.
"Ultimately, I believe that our true wealth is in our people, our human capital."
Jeremy Lawrence, editorial director, at awards host Arabian Business, said: "The award of Visionary Leader of the Year to Sheikh Saud was the clear and immediate choice of every single member of our team."
Updated: November 13, 2018 04:08 PM