Interview: Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi

Are you concerned that the numerous projects that are currently under way, along with the increasing drive to attract foreign nationals to the emirate, could dilute Ras Al Khaimah’s heritage and traditions somewhat?

SHEIKH SAUD BIN SAQR AL QASIMI: I am not concerned about this at all. If we believe in the strength of our culture and heritage, and if we also believe in our ability to marry these cornerstones of our identity to those of progress and economic development, this will allow us to adopt best practices, and will keep us moving forward. This is exactly what we have done in the past and what we will continue to do in the future. For thousands of years, the people of this land have excelled at trade with different cultures, something we continue to do today. In spite of this, we have not lost sight of our heritage. We have kept one foot firmly rooted in our rich history and identity, while the other continues to strive forward, ensuring the long-term sustainable development of our society.

In the past, you have spoken about the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship, identifying education and a conducive regulatory environment as key. How is policy currently developing in this regard?

SHEIKH SAUD: Having a good education system is a must for any place that aspires to high levels of development. Providing the younger generations with the necessary skill sets to be able to take on responsibilities and meet the various challenges of modern-day life is absolutely essential.

However, it is not as easy as simply establishing excellent schools. The broader civil framework must be in place, which includes strong institutional bodies, the rule of law and leadership.

While it is undoubtedly important to create this framework within which individuals can excel – which is what we are currently doing – there is no such thing as guaranteed success. It is our responsibility to provide individuals with every opportunity to succeed. In the end, of course, it comes down to the will and drive of the individual person.

How is strategy being developed in RAK at present in order to meet the infrastructure needs of the emirate’s growing population?

SHEIKH SAUD: The emirate of RAK collaborates with the federal government on an overall cohesive infrastructure strategy in order to serve our people, and to help facilitate growth not only in our emirate, but in the wider UAE.

We have invested heavily in our ports, airports, roads and highways, sewage systems, power plants and renewable energy platforms.

We also aim to constantly upgrade and maintain our infrastructure to ensure that it keeps pace with what is an ever-changing and dynamic marketplace, continuing to deliver for our growing population while enhancing our commitment to the shared prosperity of the UAE.

To what extent do you believe that the low-cost carrier hub model is set to transform the emirate’s status in the aviation sector?

SHEIKH SAUD: The low-cost carrier model has been a great addition to the emirate and to the entire country, adding an important new dimension to our flourishing aviation sector.

RAK International Airport recently signed an agreement with Qatar Airways that will bring the introduction of direct flights between Doha and RAK on a daily basis. This is an exciting agreement, and one that reflects the growing economic ties being formed between this emirate and the wider region. It is also one that will be of great significance in the development of our tourism sector.