Another Middle East investment opportunity

The Ras Al Khaimah government, in the UAE, looks to growth in India and China to fuel its efforts to create a minerals and metals investment area.
In another move by a Middle Eastern government to become an industrial hub, the government of Ras Al Khaimah, which is part of the United Arab Emirates, said on Monday that it would form Ras Al Khaimah Minerals and Metals Investments (RMMI) to help build up supplies of minerals and cater to the growing demand for such resources, particularly from China and India.

Ras Al-Khaimah is a 1,700 square kilometre region with a population of 250,000 in the northern part of the UAE, bordering Oman. While there are no concrete plans announced as of yet, officials for RMMI reckons the investment potential for the RMMI is about $1 billion in 2008.

They are basing this forecast on analystsÆ projections for key metals such as copper, nickel and zinc, as well as iron ore and industrial minerals such as coal, which suggest that demand could double or even triple over the next 25 years. More immediately, the RMMI is counting on growth in the Middle East, China and India to support strong increases in demand for most metals this year and in 2009.

Reflecting the tight market situation, copper prices are currently in the range of $6,400 - $7,000 per tonne - about three times higher than their average level through the 1990s and well above levels achieved in the early part of this decade. In the case of coal, analysts forecast that the prices of coking coal û used as feedstock for the steel industry û are set to jump by 49% in 2008.

RMMI is an initiative by Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority, the agency that oversees investment activities in Ras Al Khaimah.

ôWe are glad to see the formation of RMMI which will be looking at various opportunities in the emerging markets,ö says Khater Massad, chairman of the RMMI. ôRMMI will benefit immensely from the investment banking approach that investment authority has come to be known for. In essence, whatever the Ras Al Khaimah Government does across sectors, RMMI will be doing in the industrial minerals and metals space.ö

Indeed, the venture has the backing of the royal family.

ôIÆm very pleased to announce the formation of the first-of-its kind integrated industrial minerals and metals investment venture in the region. The minerals and metals industry is developing rapidly, both regionally and internationally. Our commitment to the development of these resources, while preserving the environment for future generations, has been at the heart of Ras Al Khaimah GovernmentÆs strategy,ö says his highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, deputy ruler and crown prince of Ras Al Khaimah in a written statement.
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