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Nestled along the Hajar mountain range in the northern emirates of the UAE lies the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK). Known for its scenic landscapes dotted with lush date palms, RAK offers a quieter pace of life compared to the bustling metropolises of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Yet this serene emirate also ranked 4th out of 49 top global destinations in InterNations Expat City Ranking 2023 – higher than Dubai (11th) and Abu Dhabi (5th)! Moreover, expats in Ras Al Khaimah enjoy first place in Job satisfaction and the second-best personal career options. It also ranks as the 2nd best city for working abroad. RAK scored big as an easy place for expats to settle in and find jobs thanks to affordable housing, high quality of life, and excellent career prospects.
In this blog, we provide an in-depth look at life in RAK for expats. What is it like to live, work, and play in this rapidly growing northern outpost? How does RAK compare to other major UAE cities on cost of living, economy, lifestyle offerings, and more?
We highlight the key advantages RAK offers global citizens seeking to relocate here – from outdoor recreation options to booming industries like tourism and manufacturing. But we also examine a few potential downsides expats should consider, from high summer heat to limited nightlife.
The goal is to give expats and foreign employees looking to move an honest, well-rounded overview of the realities of residing in the emirate. So whether you’re an executive contemplating transferring to a RAK-free zone or a digital nomad seeking an affordable base in the UAE, use this guide to make an informed decision!
Lifestyle & Culture
With a growing population of around 320,000, RAK maintains community-orientated surroundings despite its improvement. Along the Persian Gulf coast, RAK gives citizens and site visitors a unique combo of cutting-edge services, herbal beauty, and a rich cultural and historical past.
Climate and Weather
When judging a place to live, climate and weather comes first. RAK has an arid desert climate. It is typically the Persian Gulf region weather, with hot summers and mild winters.
Summer lasts from April to October, with typical highs around forty°C (104°F). The highest recorded temperature was 49.2°C (120.6°F) in July 2002. Humidity lies 60-90%. While pretty warm throughout the day, temperatures cool off unexpectedly after sunset.
Winters lasts from December to March. You can experience average highs around 24°C (75°F), and lows around 14°C (57°F). Rainfall is minimal, best averaging around 120 mm (4.7 in) in keeping with 12 months.
The mild and pleasant winter makes it an outstanding time to revel in outside sports like hiking, golf, water sports, and picnicking. Summers are more appropriate for indoor pursuits or water sports to stay cool.
Language & Communication
Arabic is the official language of the UAE. But most locals communicate in the Emirati dialect. However, English is common, particularly in towns and traveler regions. As an expat, mastering simple Arabic phrases shows respect for the tradition. Greetings like “Sabah al-khayr” (good morning) and “Masa’ al-khayr” (good evening) are liked. Understanding cultural communication norms also helps prevent misunderstandings.
Community & Leisure
Despite RAK’s speedy improvement during the last decade, it retains a small-town network spirit. Neighbourhoods are close-knit, and people of all nationalities mingle freely. The welcoming vibe makes it smooth for expats to meet locals and make buddies.
Popular community gatherings include the RAK Half Marathon, UAE Awafi Festival, Terry Fox Run RAK, RAK Fine Arts Festival and performances at the RAK Amphitheatre. Markets offer local handicrafts, produce, spices, and more.
RAK has fantastic family-friendly leisure offerings like:
- Beaches – Al Marjan Island, Flag Island, Flamingo Beach, and Golden Tulip Beach
- Parks – Al Qawasim Corniche, Pawsome Park, Jais Viewing Deck Park, Ice Land Water Park
- Ras Al Khaimah National Museum
- Dhayah Fort and 18th-century watchtowers
- Hajar mountain trails with breathtaking views
Nightlife offerings are more limited than in Dubai, but there are excellent international restaurants and resort bars. Pubs like The Sportsman’s Arms attract many regulars. Overall RAK offers tranquility over hustle and bustle.
Cost of Living
A major attraction of RAK is its affordability compared to other UAE cities. In 2021, the cost of living index for RAK was 65.17, much lower than Abu Dhabi (74.70) and Dubai (67.87). Let’s have a look at the Cost of Living Comparison between Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi.
|Ras Al Khaimah vs Dubai
|Ras Al Khaimah vs Abu Dhabi
|Consumer Prices (without rent)
|18.6% lower than Dubai
|15.6% higher than Ras Al Khaimah
|Consumer Prices (including rent)
|31.3% lower than Dubai
|30.2% higher than Ras Al Khaimah
|47.1% lower than Dubai
|58.3% higher than Ras Al Khaimah
|22.5% lower than Dubai
|36.7% higher than Ras Al Khaimah
|9.3% lower than Dubai
|1.3% lower than Ras Al Khaimah
|Local Purchasing Power
|3.6% higher than Dubai
|3.1% higher than Ras Al Khaimah
So, the cost of living is significantly lower in Ras Al Khaimah compared to Dubai across all metrics. However, purchasing power is higher in Dubai and Abu Dhabi than Ras Al Khaimah.
Safety & Security
With meager crime rates, Ras Al Khaimah is one of the safest places in the world. You can reach emergency services by dialling 999 for the police, 998 for the fire department, and 997 for any of the city’s five hospitals.
Since its founding, RAK has enjoyed political stability and steady economic growth. Safety and security are top priorities in RAK, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy everything this Emirati jewel offers.
Living the Ras Al Khaimah’s Life – Exploring Different Perspectives
While Ras Al Khaimah’s rich history, culture, climate, and affordability make it an appealing place to live, different groups experience expat life there in unique ways.
Beyond RAK’s welcoming community and leisure offerings, the emirate caters to diverse lifestyles. Just as RAK provides a tranquil pace and natural beauty, its communities accommodate people across life stages. The same features that draw expats to RAK overall allow specific demographics to thrive.
Families & Children
With its relaxed pace, family-friendly communities, and abundance of kid-centric activities, Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) offers an appealing environment for raising families. The emirate’s smaller size fosters a welcoming, neighborhood feel often missing in larger cities like Dubai.
Educational opportunities in RAK cater to all ages and curriculums. GEMS Westminster School provides a British-style education from kindergarten through high school. RAK Academy offers the International Baccalaureate program along with British curriculum options. Many preschools and nurseries like Fun House Nursery nurture early development.
For active youngsters, RAK’s beaches, parks, and outdoor amenities provide plenty of room to run and play. Awafi Park offers roller coasters and rides while Iceland Water Park brings watery thrills. Lovely parks like Flamingo Beach and Al-Qawasim Corniche give space to picnic, cycle, or fly a kite by the sea. Hajar Mountains provide trails for hiking and biking adventures.
Of course, raising a family abroad has its challenges. Islam shapes cultural norms, so expatriate parents should teach kids to dress and behave respectfully. Public displays of affection between couples draw frowns. During Ramadan, eating, drinking, and smoking in public is disallowed. However, Emiratis welcome foreigners who embrace local customs.
While some lament RAK’s limited entertainment options compared to Dubai, many parents prefer RAK’s tranquility to big-city bustle. By joining community groups like RAK Mums, families can find support adjusting to expat life. Ultimately, RAK provides a nurturing environment for kids to learn and grow.
Young Professionals & Singles
Young professionals and singles appreciate RAK’s casual vibe and range of social scenes. More laid-back than Dubai, RAK still offers lively bars, trendy cafes, and plenty of chances to meet fellow expats.
Popular pubs like Breeze buzz with lively conversation and banter. Chic lounges like Tower Lounge at the Waldorf Astoria provide upscale ambience for an evening out. Beach clubs like Nikki Beach Resort and Double Tree Hilton seaside bar draw fun-loving crowds.
RAK’s smaller community enables expats to easily connect through groups like InterNations RAK. Many active social groups unite hiking enthusiasts, runners, cyclists, golfers, and water sports lovers. Coworking spaces like The Office also help professionals build social circles.
Of course, RAK’s nightlife can’t compare to Dubai’s world-class offerings. But RAK’s proximity makes enjoying both easy. Singles should secure suitable housing, as studios and 1-bed flats are limited. Overall though, RAK provides a welcoming social environment for young expats.
Retirees & Seniors
With its laid-back pace and affordability, RAK appeals to many retirees seeking an active yet relaxing lifestyle. Quality healthcare, walkable neighborhoods, and amenities catering to seniors make RAK ideal for retirement.
World-class hospitals like RAK Hospital and skilled specialists ensure top-notch care. Popular communities like Al Hamra Village are pedestrian-friendly with clinics, pharmacies, and shops nearby.
Leisure amenities like golf courses, walking trails, and community centers keep retirees engaged. Many hotels offer discounted rates and activities for seniors. The pleasant winter climate encourages outdoor recreation year-round.
However, RAK’s limited public transit poses challenges for those unable to drive. Taxis can serve as an alternative. The summer heat also forces seniors indoors. Establishing local connections is key to avoid isolation.
Overall, RAK’s affordability, safety, and accessibility make it an excellent place to retire. The welcoming community integrates seniors fully into daily life. For active retirees seeking an enjoyable second act abroad, RAK hits the mark.
Entrepreneurs & Investors
RAK’s business-friendly environment and incentives make it attractive for entrepreneurs and investors. The free trade zone facilitates company registration and ownership for expats. RAK also offers competitive license fees and tax advantages.
The RAK Investment Authority assists startups with licensing, funding, facilities, and visa sponsorship. Sector-specific free zones cater to technology, media, education, and manufacturing ventures. Co-working spaces like RAK Incubator nurture startups with training and networking.
Abundant industrial zones, prime port access, and proximity to global trade routes enable supply chain, transport, and manufacturing enterprises to thrive. Tourism, real estate, and financial services offer growth industries as well.
Overall, RAK provides an accommodating ecosystem for entrepreneurs ready to take initiative. The supportive environment helps small businesses take root and develop competitive advantages. Investors will find sound prospects across growing commercial sectors. RAK continues maturing into a dynamic, diversified business center.
Work & Business
Not only is RAK ideal for varied living situations, It also presents promising prospects for commerce. Much like RAK contains communities for all ages, the region supports professionals and companies across sectors. The same features that make RAK an enjoyable place to settle also facilitate economic development and opportunity.
Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) provides growing career opportunities across industries as its economy diversifies. Major employers include the tourism, manufacturing, logistics, and free zone sectors.
Positions in hospitality range from front desk and food service to sales and management. Manufacturing offers technical and engineering roles. Logistics and warehousing provide supply chain jobs. RAK’s free zones hire administrators, customer service, IT, and more.
The work culture emphasizes collaboration and relationship-building. Most Emiratis adopt a consensus-driven approach. Western-style directness may cause offense. Salaries are lower than in Dubai but sufficient for a comfortable lifestyle. Career progression depends on proven competency and loyalty.
RAK’s expanding job market rewards motivated professionals. The atmosphere encourages cooperation and development for those adapting to local norms.
Starting a Business
From conception to launch, RAK facilitates starting a business through minimal red tape, attractive incentives, and turnkey infrastructure. Free zones allow full foreign ownership and repatriation of capital and profits.
Technology ventures can leverage two technology-focused free zones. Manufacturers benefit from RAK’s industrial zones and transportation links. Tourism enterprises capitalize on RAK’s natural assets. Professional services fill needs as the economy grows.
The Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority provides extensive support, including licensing, funding, facilities, and visas. Business setup consultants assist with processes and requirements.
RAK’s strategic location provides access to UAE and Gulf markets. “Ras Al Khaimah is an appealing destination for foreign investment due to its business-friendly environment, which includes favorable regulations and tax incentives, as well as its strategic endeavors to diversify its economy. Foreign investors are presented with a variety of prospects by the emirate’s emphasis on industries such as manufacturing, tourism, and renewable energy,” said Lakhwani.
However, Ras Al Khaimah’s reputation trails Dubai, so attracting customers takes work. Bureaucratic hassles may persist. Researching regulations and building local relationships are advised when launching a business.
Overall, Ras Al Khaimah provides the frameworks and assistance for entrepreneurs to minimize hurdles and accelerate growth. The business-friendly environment helps startups gain a foothold in a prime Emirati location.
Taxes & Regulations
Ras Al Khaimah offers attractive tax benefits and a supportive regulatory environment for business. No personal income tax applies. For companies, no corporate tax is levied for 50 years renewable. Offshore companies pay no VAT or import duties.
Business licenses start from AED 1,000. Free zones have streamlined requirements and options like flexi-desks. Outside free zones, Emirati sponsors and minimum capital apply. Visas sponsored by companies cost from AED 1,000.
Bookkeeping, invoices, tax filing, and English labeling are required. Local service agents aid compliance. Laws protect intellectual property and allow dispute resolution. Data protection and cybersecurity laws safeguard information.
However, regulations still evolve, so staying current is key. Legal complexities around finance and investment necessitate advisors. Overall, RAK offers advantageous frameworks for compliant, ethical business. Structures like free zones simplify establishing operations.
Networking & Resources
Ras Al Khaimah provides helpful networks and resources for finding jobs, making connections, and launching ventures. Groups like RAK International Corporate Centre and RAKEZ facilitate networking.
The Ras Al Khaimah Chamber of Commerce of Industry offers business services. RAK FTZ Business Centres assist free zone investors. Government portals list openings and assist job seekers. Startup incubators like Ras Al Khaimah SME provide training, mentorship, and facilities.
Most professional industries have associations for development and collaboration, like the Ras Al Khaimah Hospitality Industry Association. Business setup consultants offer tailored guidance for new ventures.
Overall, networks, institutions, and advisors augment RAK’s business-friendly environment. Aspiring professionals and entrepreneurs can readily access support to establish themselves in the growing economy. By leveraging local resources, expats can thrive in RAK’s world of work.
Housing & Real Estate
With a thriving economy and business environment, Ras Al Khaimah also offers attractive housing and real estate options. As more companies launch operations in RAK’s free zones, demand for housing has risen among expatriate professionals relocating to the emirate. Ras Al Khaimah’s business-friendly policies, such as foreign freehold ownership, have also stimulated the property market. After reviewing Ras Al Khaimah’s business landscape, let us focus on real estate and examine the diverse housing options.
Types of Housing
Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) offers diverse housing options to meet varying needs and budgets. Key types include:
These are widely available across RAK, especially in popular areas like Al Hamra Village, Al Marjan Island, Mina Al Arab, Al Nakheel, and Yasmin Village. Configurations range from cozy studios to spacious 4-bedroom units, with sizes between 350 to over 7,100 sq ft. Larger developments like Al Hamra Village have nearly 4,000 apartments.
Villas are available across prestigious communities like Mina Al Arab, Al Hamra Village, Ras Al Khaimah Waterfront, and Al Dhait. Sizes range from modest 1-bedroom units of 950 sq ft to expansive 7-bedroom villas of 50,000 sq ft. 3 to 5-bedroom villas are common.
Found in prime locations like Al Hamra Village, Mina Al Arab, and Al Marjan Island. Sizes range from 1,200 to 14,000 sq ft with 2 to 5 bedrooms. Most are 2 to 3 floors with attached garages.
These housing types are offered in Al Hamra Village, Mina Al Arab, and Al Marjan Island. Sizes range from 1,400 to 4,500 sq ft with 2 to 5 bedrooms. Duplexes provide privacy and access to community amenities.
Located in hospitality hubs like Al Hamra Village, Al Marjan Island, and Ras Al Khaimah Waterfront. Available as studios to 3-bedroom units sized 430 to 3,600 sq ft. Permit short and long term stays.
Luxury 2 to 4-bedroom units in Al Hamra Village and Al Marjan Island, ranging from 1,500 to 7,100 sq ft. Offer premium finishes, appliances and amenities.
Cost of Housing
Compared to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, housing in RAK is relatively more affordable. As per 2022 trends, a 1-bedroom apartment starts from AED 170,000, while a 2-bedroom villa can be found for AED 750,000 and upwards. However, prices are rising steadily.
In popular areas like Mina Al Arab, apartment prices increased by 18.5% in 2022. Rental apartments in Al Hamra Village rose by 5-10% in the same period.
For villas, rental costs in Al Hamra Village and Mina Al Arab increased 7% in 2022. Sales prices of villas in Al Hamra Village went up 3.5%.
Several factors are driving RAK’s housing market:
- Increasing demand as more expatriates relocate for job opportunities, especially in RAK’s free zones.
- New luxury developments like the 5-star Hayat Island, premium residences in Al Marjan Island and upcoming waterfront projects. These attract investors seeking rental income and capital gains.
- Government incentives like foreign freehold ownership and zero taxes aimed at boosting real estate investment.
- Growing tourism with new resorts like Anantara Mina Al Arab, recreational parks and attractions. This creates demand for hotels, short-term rentals and housing.
Going forward, real estate market reports predict continued growth in sales prices and rental rates across RAK as demand rises across segments. However, rising interest rates globally could slow down price appreciation.
RAK saw strong sales growth in 2022 -23, led by areas like Al Hamra Village, Al Marjan Island and Mina Al Arab. Apartment prices rose up to 18.5% in Mina Al Arab. Villas saw 3-6% upticks in Al Hamra Village and Mina Al Arab.
Yasmin Village offers the highest ROI of 11.6% for apartments, while Al Hamra Village leads for villas at 6%. Luxury units like penthouses and beachfront villas command premium prices. Here is the Real Estate Transactions details in Ras Al Khaimah by month – 2023.
|Value in AED
|قيمة المبيعات العقاريةReal Estate Transactions
|قيمة الرهون العقاريةMortgages Value
|القيمة السوقية للتنازلWaiver Market Value
|Source: Ras al Khaimah Municipality
Significant upcoming supply at projects like Hayat Island, Georgievskiy Village, Nurai Island, etc., and rising interest rates may soften sales growth ahead. But demand remains robust.
Al Hamra Village, Al Marjan Island and Mina Al Arab were the most popular areas for rental apartments and villas in 2023. Rents increased 5-10% for flats and around 7% for villas in Al Hamra Village.
Other regions like Al Nakheel, Al Seer, Khuzam, Al Dhait also saw decent rental demand. New quality supply across segments will expand options for tenants.
RAK’s capital appreciation was the highest amongst Northern Emirates from 2012-2022 at over 50% for apartments and over 25% for villas. Areas like Mina Al Arab, Al Hamra Village, Al Marjan Island saw double-digit solid gains.
|Al Hamra Village
|Al Marjan Island
|Mina Al Arab
|Dafan Al Nakheel
Experts forecast price growth to continue at 6-10% annually in the medium term, driven by upcoming projects, government incentives and improving infrastructure. Villas could outperform apartments.
Education & Healthcare
Beyond real estate, Ras Al Khaimah also invests heavily in developing world-class education and healthcare. This allows residents to access excellent academic institutions and medical care locally. The high standard of living attracts skilled professionals to the emirate.
As we have seen, RAK offers attractive housing across segments. It also ensures residents’ essential needs are met through a well-developed education system and advanced healthcare services. Let us learn more about the public and private education as well as medical facilities available in the emirate.
Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) has a well-developed education system with public and private schooling options. Education is overseen by the Ministry of Education and the RAK Education Zone.
over 90 public schools are offering the UAE curriculum taught in Arabic or English. Subjects like math, science and English are emphasized to prepare students for global careers. Facilities are modern with advanced IT infrastructure. Teachers are well-qualified and trained.
The Ras Al Khaimah Academy is one of the top public schools established in 1976. It offers British curricula and the International Baccalaureate program. Over 2800 students from 60+ nationalities attend.
Ras Al Khaimah has over 60 private schools offering diverse curricula like American, British, Indian, Pakistani and Philippine. Top schools include:
- GEMS Westminster School: Offers British curriculum on a new eco-friendly campus with excellent facilities.
- Regent International School: British curriculum for ages 3-18 years with focus on innovation and technology.
- Bolton University: Offers engineering, business, IT and logistics degrees in partnership with its UK campus.
The MoE monitors school quality under the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). High scores are achieved in international assessments like TIMSS and PISA.
Costs for private education can range from AED 20,000 to over AED 100,000 annually depending on age group, curriculum and facilities. Homeschooling is an option under the MOE’s home education policy. Parents can withdraw kids from school and register for homeschooling.
After Grade 12, students can pursue vocational diplomas or undergraduate degrees at Ras Al Khaimah institutions like:
- RAK Medical and Health Sciences University
- American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK)
- University of Bolton, RAK Campus.
Ras Al Khaimah offers modern healthcare services through public and private facilities:
Ras Al Khaimah Hospital is the flagship government hospital with over 300 beds, specialized centers and the latest technology and treatments. Other public options are Saqr Hospital, RAK Diabetes Center, Psychiatry Hospital etc.
Leading private hospitals include RAK Hospital, Ahalia Hospital, Al Saqr Hospital, Al Jazirah Al Hamra Health Center, NMC Hospital, Al Shaam Hospital., and Mediclinic. They offer advanced facilities, minimal wait times, and telehealth and home care services.
Consultation fees range from AED 100-300. Treatment costs are significantly lower than in Western countries. For example, a typical doctor visit may cost only $27 compared to $100+ in the US.
Advanced healthcare is easily accessible in major urban centers. Rural access can be limited but improved via mobile clinics, telehealth, and outreach programs.
Daily Amenities Option in Ras al Khaimah
Beyond education and medical care, families also need access to everyday conveniences to enjoy a good standard of living, so below we explore budget costs for groceries, meals, utilities, transportation and other services.
All the daily grocery needs of residents are met through chains like Carrefour, Lulu, Westzone etc. These large supermarkets provide quality products for cooking basic meals at home. Organic food stores are also available for the health-conscious residents.
Ras Al Khaimah offers a vibrant food scene suiting varied tastes and budgets. Small local restaurants serve good quality meals under 50 AED per person. People can also enjoy safe hygenic meals at budget rates from popular fast food franchises like McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut etc. available across the emirate.
Utility expenses like electricity, water and gas are charged at very economical rates in Ras Al Khaimah, especially for conservative usage suited to the region’s climate. 1 bed units can easily stay within the lowest slab.
Internet packages are also reasonably priced, starting from 150 AED per month for speeds like 30Mbps suitable for most households. Higher speeds available at fractional extra charges from Etisalat, Du etc.
Full-time live-in maids or helpers are available for approximately 2000 AED per month, inclusive of all visa-related charges, accommodation and transportation costs. They help working couples and families with cleaning, laundry, childcare, elderly care etc.
Ras Al Khaimah residents can enjoy many free public beach areas like Al Marjan, Al Hamra with white sands, play areas for kids, basic shower/change areas etc. Parks like Saqr Park, Apple Wonderland Park also provide green open spaces for family time.
Numerous resorts like Cove Rotana Resort Spa, BANYAN TREE AL WADI offer beach, pool and dining access on a daily basis for around 100-150 AED per person. Private club memberships allowing year-round access to facilities like beach, pool, gym etc. available from hotels like DoubleTree Hilton for under 2,000 AED per person.
Vet consultations cost about 200 to 300 AED on average, with additional expenses for medicines or procedures. Vaccination plans are economical for overall pet health and upkeep.
Reasonably priced pet boarding facilities like K9 Friends, My Second Home Pet Hotel charge 15 to 25 AED per day for small pets. They ensure healthy homemade food, regular exercise and plenty of playtime.
Men can enjoy a quick professional haircut or shave at old-school Arabic barbers (“saloons”) dotted across Ras Al Khaimah for 20 to 50 AED. Ladies hair wash/cut costs around 100 to 300 AED at higher end salons like Toni & Guy, Jade etc.
Budget home-visiting salons are also easily available in RAK, providing similar services for slightly higher rates due to transportation expenses.
Ras Al Khaimah offers many free outdoor spaces for residents to sweat it out like running tracks, exercise stations along Corniche, beachside yoga spots etc. But professionally managed air conditioned gyms are very competitively priced too. Popular options include Legends Fitness Gym, Uform Fitness and RAK Gym Ras Al Khaimah. Membership plans start from 100 to 250 AED per month offering access to gym, classes, locker rooms etc.
Transportation Facility in Ras Al Khaimah
Transportation plays a vital role in deciding a good place to live. Ras Al Khaimah has developed a robust transportation network over the years to cater to the needs of both residents and visitors.
Taxis are a popular mode of transport within Ras Al Khaimah. There are two main taxi services – Al Hamra Taxis and Al Arabia Taxis, with over 1000 taxis between them. Al Hamra Taxis have a distinguishable cream-colored roof and use meters to calculate fares. Taxi fares are regulated by RAKTA. Taxis can be booked by calling the Al Hamra or Al Arabia call centers.
In recent years, ride-hailing service Careem has launched the Hala taxi service in RAK which allows customers to book and pay for taxis via their mobile app. This provides features like driver profiles and reviews.
For a more luxurious ride, RAKTA operates the Al Hamra Limousine service with categories like Silver, Gold and Platinum. These air-conditioned vehicles are suitable for corporate travel or airport transfers within and outside Ras Al Khaimah.
RAKTA manages various bus services within the emirate and to other destinations.
Intra-City Buses: There are 4 main internal bus routes connecting areas like Manar Mall, Ras Al Khaimah Airport and the American University campus. Buses run frequently and a single-journey ticket costs between AED 5-10.
Inter-Emirate Buses: Comfortable intercity buses link RAK to other emirates like Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain. Services start early morning until late evening with ticket prices ranging from AED 10-25 based on destination.
Al Hamra Buses: As an affordable public transport, Al Hamra buses travel between RAK and other emirate cities multiple times a day.
Musandam Bus: A new cross-border service takes passengers from RAK to Musandam province in Oman in around 3 hours with tickets priced at AED 50 one-way.
Jebel Jais Shuttle: A tourist shuttle bus ferries visitors from RAK city and hotels to popular Jebel Jais mountain every 30 minutes for AED 20 per person.
RAK’s transportation masterplan aims to make 50% of all intra-city trips via public transit by 2030. Initiatives include:
- Expanding the internal bus network’s coverage and frequency
- Introducing a tram/metro system for high capacity public transport
- Integrating multiple modes on a cashless payment system
- Encouraging cycling and pedestrianization in certain areas
- Using intelligent transport systems for traffic management
- Developing multimodal mobility hubs near activity centers
These measures will reduce congestion and carbon emissions as well as provide residents with affordable, accessible mobility options.
Visas and Immigration
Ras Al Khaimah offers visa options for visitors, residents and jobseekers. Some of the main visa categories include:
- Employment Visa: For individuals who will work or look for work in RAK. Valid for 3 years and renewable.
- Investor/Business Visa: For business owners, investors, shareholders. Valid for 3 years but require renewal if staying longer than 6 months outside RAK.
- Family Visa: For dependents of those with employment/business visas. Linked to the sponsor’s residency status. Valid for 3 years typically.
- Visit Visa: For short term visits up to 3 months. Non-renewable and not a residency visa.
- Student Visa: For those studying in RAK. Valid 1 year typically and renewable if still studying.
- Apply for entry permit/employment visa through the RAK eChannel portal. Require documents like passport, certificates, photos etc. Valid 6 months typically.
- Get medical tests done in RAK for residency visa approval. Involves blood tests and x-rays.
- Change the entry permit status by stamping passport while inside the country. Or exit-reentry if outside UAE when permit issued.
- Apply for Emirates ID at the ID authority center. Involves biometrics.
- Apply for residency (tasreeh) through eChannels. Fees apply. Valid 1-3 years typically depending on visa type.
- Renew residency visa before the expiry date (1 month before ideally) to avoid fines for overstaying.
Challenges & Considerations
Choosing a place to live is a big decision, and Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) offers a unique blend of opportunities and challenges. Here are some key considerations:
Culture and Lifestyle
Ras Al Khaimah subscribes to a conservative Islamic culture, more so than other emirates. Residents are expected to dress and behave modestly in public. Compared to Dubai, there are lesser nightlife options like bars and clubs. But the flip side is a strong focus on family-friendly activities, community living and slower pace of life.
The predominant language is Arabic but English is widely understood especially in hospitality, retail and business settings. Learning basic Arabic phrases can help in daily interactions and understanding local customs. Public display of affection is discouraged.
The job market is largely concentrated around manufacturing, trading, hospitality and retail sectors. Industries like technology, media, banking and finance offer relatively fewer opportunities than Dubai or Abu Dhabi. But tourism, real estate and construction continue to grow and create jobs.
Infrastructure and Accessibility
Public infrastructure and transportation has developed rapidly but still lags behind other emirates. Residents may need to travel longer distances for accessing amenities. Having a personal vehicle is recommended for smooth commute. Inter-emirate roads linking major cities continue to expand.
Cost of Living
In general, cost of living in Ras Al Khaimah is lower than Dubai or Abu Dhabi especially for housing, utilities, groceries and daily expenditures. But availability of high-end products and luxury experiences might be lesser or expensive. Beachfront homes and premium communities command higher rents than inland areas.
The arid desert climate brings extremely hot and humid summers with temperatures frequently crossing 40°C from June to September. Winters offer respite with average temperatures of 23°C. It takes time to acclimatize to the overall extreme weather conditions round the year.
In short, Ras Al Khaimah presents an appealing overall package for families, individuals and professionals seeking an affordable yet high-quality lifestyle within the UAE.
While it lacks the glamour and entertainment options of larger Emirati cities, RAK more than makes up for this through its distinct natural beauty, laidback pace, and tremendous value. The friendlier costs of living, housing, and activities allow for greater financial security and comfort.
Importantly, RAK maintains a diverse, global yet tight-knit community where expats can readily find their place. Networks, organizations, and the welcoming local culture facilitate smooth integration. Educational and healthcare standards rival top international levels, fulfilling essential needs.
Propelled by its innovation-focused free zones and investor incentives, RAK also offers robust and expanding career prospects across sectors. Starting a business enjoys supportive frameworks and assistance. Infrastructure continues advancing to enhance the quality of life.
Though summer heat is taxing and public transport limited, RAK residents enjoy excellent healthcare, safety and family-centric lifestyle amenities. The balmy winters, gorgeous beaches, and year-round outdoor pursuits provide relaxation and rejuvenation.
Considering its top global rankings for career satisfaction, work-life balance, and cost advantages compared even to other UAE cities, RAK presents a compelling holistic package. Readers would benefit from exploring specific areas and researching current market trends to determine if RAK best matches their needs and vision. With continued diversification and growth, RAK promises opportunities for varied life stages and backgrounds.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the climate like in Ras Al Khaimah?
Ras Al Khaimah has a hot desert climate with very hot and humid summers from April to October (average highs around 40°C/104°F) and short, mild winters from December to March (average highs around 24°C/75°F).
How affordable is housing in Ras Al Khaimah compared to Dubai?
Housing in Ras Al Khaimah is significantly more affordable than Dubai, with apartment rents almost 50% lower and villa/townhouse rents 30% lower on average.
What are the top schools and curriculum options in Ras Al Khaimah?
Leading schools offer British, American, International Baccalaureate and other international curricula. Top picks include GEMS Westminster School, RAK Academy, Regent International School and Bolton University.
Which areas are most popular for expats to live in Ras Al Khaimah?
The most popular expat areas are Al Hamra Village, Al Marjan Island and Mina Al Arab for their family-friendly communities, amenities and proximity to beaches and leisure facilities.
How easy is it for expats to find jobs in Ras Al Khaimah?
Job opportunities exist in sectors like hospitality, real estate, construction, manufacturing and retail. The free zones also hire talent across roles. But the market is smaller than Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
What is the cost of living like compared to Dubai?
Overall cost of living is around 15-30% cheaper on average than Dubai when factoring expenses like groceries, transportation, utilities and entertainment. High-end luxury goods can be more limited or expensive.
How easy is it to open a business in Ras Al Khaimah as an expat?
RAK facilitates business setup through investor-friendly free zones allowing full foreign ownership and incentives. Obtaining licenses and permits is relatively smooth and assisted by government bodies.
What are Ras Al Khaimah’s plans to improve transportation infrastructure?
Plans include expanding public transit networks, introducing trams/metros, developing mobility hubs and encouraging cycling/walking to make 50% trips via public transport by 2030.
Does Ras Al Khaimah offer quality medical care for residents?
Yes, RAK has advanced healthcare provided by public hospitals like RAK Hospital and private options like Ahalia Hospital, AL Saqr Hospital and NMC Hospital on par with international standards.
How safe is Ras Al Khaimah compared to other big cities in UAE?
With extremely low crime rates, Ras Al Khaimah is regarded as one of the safest places in the UAE and globally. Emergency services are easily accessible throughout the emirate.