Saud bin Saqr Al-Qasimi

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Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi
Black-and-white right-facing profile portrait of a man wearing a Van dyke beard and a keffiyeh.
Sheikh Saud
Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah
Reign 27 October 2010 - present 
Predecessor Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi
Born (1956-02-10) 10 February 1956 (age 62)
Dubai, Trucial States (now) United Arab Emirates
Religion Islam

Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi is the current Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, one of the 7 emirates of the United Arab Emirates.

Early life and education[edit]

Sheikh Saud was born in Dubai on 10 February 1956.[1] Sheikh Saud is the fourth son of Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, his predecessor as the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah and UAE Supreme Council Member, who died on 27 October 2010.[2] He completed both his primary and secondary education in Ras Al Khaimah and then attended the American University of Beirut (AUB) in July 1973 to pursue his studies in economics. When the Lebanese civil war broke out in Beirut in 1975, Sheikh Saud transferred to the University of Michigan, where he received a bachelor's degree in economics and political science.


Sheikh Saud with John Chambers (CEO of Cisco Systems)

Royal Ascension[edit]

On his return to Ras Al Khaimah in 1979, Sheikh Saud was appointed Chief of the Ruler's Court to assist his father, Sheikh Saqr, in the administration of the sheikhdom. Sheikh Saud became Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah when his father, Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, unexpectedly dismissed his elder half-brother, Sheikh Khalid bin Saqr Al Qasimi on 14 June 2003 for his hostility towards the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. Abu Dhabi, the lead emirate of the UAE, sanctioned the dismissal and demonstrated support for Sheikh Saud by sending armored vehicles to Ras Al Khaimah.[3] On 27 October 2010, upon the death of his father Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, who ruled Ras Al Khaimah for 62 years, Sheikh Saud officially became the Ruler, according to a statement from the seven-member federation of the United Arab Emirates.[4]

Business career[edit]

In 1986, Sheikh Saud became the Chairman of the Ras Al Khaimah Municipal Council. In 1989, he recruited the Swiss-Lebanese engineer Khater Massaad, who developed comprehensive industrialization plans for Ras Al Khaimah, the most important being the establishment of RAK Ceramics. Previously working in Fujairah, Massaad recognized the potential of exploiting raw materials in Ras Al Khaimah that could be used for the production of ceramics.[5] Under the technical and managerial leadership of Massaad, RAK Ceramics tile and sanitary ware production facilities were created from scratch 15 kilometers southwest of the town of Ras Al Khaimah. Relying since its creation in 1991 on inexpensive Asian labor, the company became the largest producer in the world over a period of about 20 years. As of 31 December 2012, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi personally continues to be the largest individual shareholder (39.88 percent of total shares), while the Government of Ras Al Khaimah benefits only from a mere 4.98 percent stake in RAK Ceramics.[6]


Sheikh Saud has implemented vast organizational and economic reforms that have transformed RAK into an attractive destination for foreign investment – culminating in a A/A-1 rating over several years by Standard & Poor's and Fitch.[7]

Sheikh Saud at ITT Event

Drawing from the experience of his private sector successes, such as the rejuvenation of Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries (Julphar) and the creation of the world's largest ceramics manufacturer, RAK Ceramics, Sheikh Saud's economic insight and business savvy have helped bring about unprecedented development and growth across the emirate. Soon after Sheikh Saud's accession as Crown Prince, RAK Government asked the World Bank to conduct a study on the foreign investment avenues available to the emirate and has formulated a comprehensive master plan for development.[8] In 2005, RAK Government and the World Bank organised a conference called ‘Live and Invest in Ras Al Khaimah’ to present before investors the vast potential that the emirate holds for investment.[9]

Sheikh Saud's reform initiatives improved the emirate GDP per capita from AED 35,000 to AED 52,000 in the years between 2001 and 2006.[10]

Public services[edit]

In addition to running a sound government, Sheikh Saud has also been deeply concerned with the social development of the Emirate, focusing special attention on improving education and healthcare. Viewing education as an important part of Ras Al Khaimah's sustainable development, he created the Sheikh Saqr Overseas Scholarship Program[11] to encourage and enable local men and women to pursue higher education at first class international universities.[citation needed]

Additionally, the American University of Ras Al Khaimah was established to facilitate access to world-class higher education in the emirate. The University of Bolton has awarded an honorary doctorate to Sheikh Saud in recognition of his role in supporting education in the emirate and for attracting leading academic institutions from around the world to Ras Al Khaimah.[12]

The Ras Al Khaimah Centre for Advanced Materials (RAK- CAM) was founded under the patronage of Sheikh Saud in late 2007. RAK- CAM is envisioned to become a flagship for advanced Materials science research in the Middle East that addresses critical issues in areas such as alternative energy sources, construction, water purification and environmental preservation.[13]

Sheikh Saud has also sponsored the building of Ras al-Khaimah Medical and Health Sciences University(RAKMHSU) to train future generations of doctors, nurses and pharmacists for the UAE as a whole. In 2007, Sheikh Saud opened the doors of RAK Hospital, a joint Swiss-UAE venture and the first full service private hospital in the emirate.[14]

In 2009, Sheikh Saud set up by Emiri decree the Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, a non-profit quasi-government organisation that aims to aid the social, cultural and economic development of Ras Al Khaimah. The Foundation has a goal of generating a world-class body of research on Ras Al Khaimah and the broader UAE, develop local capacity in the public sector and engage the community in its work.[15]


Domestic policy[edit]

Accusations of Sheikh Saud's and Ras Al Khaimah's connections to Iran previously raised attention among the international community. However, these accusations stem either directly from the former crown prince of RAK or indirectly from research he has funded with a vested interest in embarrassing or undermining the regime in the hope of returning to power.[16][17][18]

Khalid's US communications team[who?] insisted these claims were "well sourced", but they were rejected by the UAE embassies in London and the US. The UAE also denied the Sheikh's claim that RAK had links to Iran's nuclear program and that a port in RAK had in effect become an Iranian base, allowing Tehran to avoid international sanctions. Instead, the Embassy described the claims as attacks that were "baseless and without foundation and should be seen in the context of his long-standing dispute with his family."[19]

"These appear to be old, scurrilous rumors which Sheikh Khalid has made on numerous occasions," a spokesman for the UAE said in a statement. "His claims are baseless and without foundation and should be seen in the context of his long-standing dispute with his family. We are surprised that these old allegations are now being rehashed once again."[18]

The Islah Movement (Al Islah), a reformist political current with ideological though not organizational links to the Muslim Brotherhood, has strong support in Ras Al Khaimah. One of its leaders is the human rights activist and lawyer Muhammad Al-Mansuri (Mohammed Al-Mansoori). He was a long-time legal adviser to Sheikh Saud but dismissed in December 2009 after criticizing the lack of freedom of expression in Ras Al Khaimah.[20] He was among the so-called UAE 94, a group of reform-minded activists tried in the UAE. Al-Mansoori was among 68 other government critics sentenced on 2 July 2013 by the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi and received a jail term of ten years for "belonging to an illegal, secret organization ... that aims to counter the foundations of this state in order to seize power and of contacting foreign entities and groups to implement this plan."[21]

Economic policy[edit]

In the years up to 2010, Ras Al Khaimah's economic policy was marked by expansion, notably in industry through companies such as RAK Ceramics, RAK Ports and RAK Rock, real estate through Al Hamra Group, and business services Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone. The global financial crisis belatedly reached the UAE. Following Dubai's de facto default in November 2009, Ras Al Khaimah was heavily hit. In 2010, Sheikh Saud's new economic adviser Jim Stewart CEO of RAK Investment and Development Office[22] changed from debt fueled growth to austerity. The aim was to bring the 5 billion AED (or 1.37 billion USD) debts of Ras Al Khaimah under control.[23] Sheikh Saud instructed the CEO of RAKIA and RAK Ceramics, Khater Massaad, to sell all global assets, notably in Georgia, where the emirate holds shares in three main companies - RAKIA Georgia LLC, Rakeen Development LLC, and RAKIA Georgia Free Industrial Zone. Real estate there and in particular the Port of Poti were labeled "not a strategic asset" in the October 2010 cover story about Khater Massaad, "The Man Who Sold The World".[24] Similar debt reduction policies started to be applied to other enterprises in which Sheikh Saud personally or Ras Al Khaimah have shares in, the most important being RAK Ceramics. In February 2018, RAK Ceramics recorded profits of 315.5 million AED and debts had reduced from 1.574 billion AED in October 2012 to 1.4 billion AED in 2018.[25][26]

Personal life[edit]

Sheikh Saud is married to Sheikha Hana bint Juma Al Majid and has six children named Sheikh Mohammed (Crown Prince) Sheikha Amneh, Sheikh Ahmed (President of Al-Rams Sports and Cultural Club [5]), Sheikh Khalid, Sheikh Saqr, and Sheikha Mahra.

During the South Yemen insurgency, the sheikh's four sons served in the nation's military.[27]


  1. ^ "Profile: Shaikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi". Gulf News. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Saud is Ras Al Khaimah Ruler as UAE mourns Shaikh Saqr". Gulf News. 27 October 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Washington Institute for Near East Policy, "Succession Politics in the Conservative Arab Gulf States: The Weekend's Events in Ras al-Khaimah"
  4. ^ Financial Times, "Ruler of UAE’s Ras al-Khaimah dies"
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Report, Staff (2017-01-28). "S&P affirms Ras Al Khaimah rating, says outlook stable". GulfNews. Retrieved 2018-06-18. 
  8. ^ RAK asks World Bank to conduct study on foreign investment Archived 7 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Ameinfo 10 Feb 2005
  9. ^ Global Investors’ Conference starts off in RAK Emirates International 28 May 2005
  10. ^ RAK GDP grows by more than 50 % over the last four years Archived 4 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Uaeinteract 28 January 2008
  11. ^ "Overseas Scholarship". Retrieved 13 June 2018. 
  12. ^ Sheikh Saud receives honorary doctorate from University of Bolton of UK,, 21 February 2010.
  13. ^ RAK Begins Building of Research Centre for Materials,, 24 February 2010.
  14. ^ Dh100m multi-specialty RAK Hospital opened Gulf News 25 November 2007
  15. ^ "Who We Are | Al Qasimi Foundation". Retrieved 2018-06-13. 
  16. ^ "Deposed Sheik hires former reporter in lobbying effort", The Hill 11 March 2009
  17. ^ 6 June 2010, "How Peter Cathcart's Uxbridge offices became the base for a coup"
  18. ^ a b 6 June 2010, "The provincial lawyer who is helping plot an emirate coup"
  19. ^ Booth, Robert; Khan, Stephen (6 June 2010). "The provincial lawyer who is helping plot an emirate coup". The Guardian. London. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 August 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  22. ^ "Board of directors". 
  23. ^ RAK Looking for Investors to Reduce 5 Billion AED Debt
  24. ^ "COVER STORY - RAK SPECIAL REPORT - The man who sold the world. - Free Online Library". 
  25. ^ CNBC Arabia Interview with Abdallah Massaad
  26. ^ "RAK Ceramics Announces Reported Net Profit of AED 315.5m – RAK Ceramics". Retrieved 2018-06-18. 
  27. ^ "Proud my sons are serving the nation in Yemen: RAK Ruler's wife". Emirates 24/7 News. 7 December 2015. 

External links[edit]

Saud bin Saqr Al-Qasimi
Born: 10 February 1956
Royalty of the United Arab Emirates
Title last held by
Saqr bin Mohammad Al Qasimi
27 October 2010 – present
Mohammed bin Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi