Ras al-Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) expects to grow by 10-15 per cent by the end of the year.

The business park which focuses on manufacturing and industry, processed applications from 1,500 companies in 2009.

The majority of companies applying for office space are expected to be small to medium sized firms (SMEs).

“We expect SMEs to grow more than larger companies in 2010 and 2011,” said Sheikh Faisal bin Saqr al-Qasimi, chairman of RAK FTZ, “and the majority of our new business will come from this sector.”

During a 25 July press conference in Ras al-Khaimah, it was also announced that RAK FTZ will be hosting the World Free Zone Convention (WFZC) in November 2010. It is the first time a free zone convention will be held in the Middle East.

RAK FTZ will sponsor the two-day conference, which will be held at the Al-Hamra Convention Centre in RAK on 2-3 November.

The event is in its 10th year and shares its anniversary with RAK FTZ.

“This year RAK FTZ marks its anniversary and what better way to mark this than hosting and sponsoring the 10th edition of WFZC here in RAK,” said Sheikh Faisal.

He added that RAK’s economy lacked a dominant contributor to its gross domestic product (GDP) and the free zone would play an important role in 2010.

“If we look at a sector-wise breakdown in RAK, it shows there is no dominant economic contributor to our GDP. In the past year, the largest contributor was the government services, approximately 15 per cent, followed by wholesale, retail and repair services, nearly 14 per cent.”

RAK expects to post 12 per cent growth in GDP this year. Last year it recorded 9 per cent growth.

“Now all our efforts are centred on creating better opportunities for our people and investors in RAK, making it more appealing as a destination for business and investment,” Sheikh Faisal added.