At a recently held business networking event, titled ‘Discover a World of Investment Opportunities in Sharjah’ organised by the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), as part of its participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, regional and global investors have capitalised on insightful information on new and emerging business prospects in manufacturing, creative industries, technology, and other key sectors.

Continuing steadfastly on its strategic mission to build on its robustly diverse economy, whose non-oil sectors account for a whopping 96 percent of its annual gross domestic product (GDP), leading officials representing Sharjah’s government departments and free zones convened to speak about the myriad opportunities investors can explore while being supported by the emirate’s economic resilience and stable business environment, consistent market growth, and other competitive advantages.

Al Mahmoudi welcomes innovators

Urging the attendees to visit the world-class free zone, Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP), said: “Today’s event is an amazing opportunity to connect with the world. SRTIP is home to a world-class innovation ecosystem, which provides an amazing environment to entrepreneurs, tech companies, and innovation-related companies to establish themselves and grow.”

“We pride ourselves in being the world’s fastest-growing technology park with one of the biggest transport and logistics innovation centre; one of the biggest additive manufacturing facilities in the region; and host several technologies developed in augmented reality, virtual realities, agriculture and 3D printing. Additionally, our free zone is surrounded by 22 top quality educational institutions that boast 47,000 students and dozens of PhD holders, which fulfils human capital needs of any business without having to outsource or fly in talent from other nations”, he added.

Investment and partnership prospects

Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah, turned the spotlight on the untapped investment potential of Sharjah, saying, “Sharjah is becoming increasingly known for its pioneering sustainability initiatives and as a world-class R&D, innovation and startup hub. With exceptional support provided by the government, lower operating costs compared to neighbouring emirates, and a culture of innovation, Sharjah is an ideal choice for companies seeking a base in the Middle East.”

He also highlighted the sectors of culture and tourism, mobility and logistics, health and wellbeing, Greentech, human capital and innovation, advanced manufacturing, and agri-food technology as “high-potential sectors, ripe with investment opportunities”.

On his part, Sheikh Saoud bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, deputy head of the Industrial Investments Section at the Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD) noted that SEDD has 11 departments each specialised with its own set of directives and functions that are geared towards providing businesses and franchisees in Sharjah world-class services, with 120 fully integrated e-services focused on issuing licences and permits for various businesses and franchises operating in multiple sectors and ensure the highest of standards in the emirate’s consumer satisfaction.

Vibrant promoter of publishing and creative sectors

Salim Omar Salim, director of the Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPC Free Zone), explained the unique opportunities at this first-of-its-kind free zone in the world. “From business licencing to fully-equipped office spaces, printing and packaging facilities, tax free income, and more, the SPC Free Zone serves the interests of global publishing businesses and supports the fulfilment of their regional expansion plans. We are an ideal hub for everyone in the creative industries and allied sectors too.”

Abdulaziz Shattaf, assistant director-general of the Members Services Sector at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) noted: “When we look at Sharjah, we are looking at the industrial hub of the UAE which is home to more than 2,500 factories in different sectors like F&B, building materials, electric and mechanical, and more, with a total annual production of no less than Dh60 billion, and our exports are in the upwards of Dh23 million.”

He added: “There is a lot of room for more manufacturers to come and invest in Sharjah’s manufacturing sector, especially since the UAE has announced its ‘Manufacturing Mandate’ to increase its manufacturing capacities from Dh200 billion to Dh300 in the next five years.”

Elie Armaly, director of Business Development at the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), presented a comprehensive picture of the authority’s recently launched and ongoing projects across the leisure, hospitality, residential and retail sectors.

“We are scheduled to launch a number of mixed-use projects estimated at Dh1.3–Dh1.5 billion starting next year up until 2025, which are expected to continue in attracting major lucrative partnership and joint venture prospects between Shurooq and global investors.”

He added: “We are very excited about this, and other projects spread across region’s that will turn the spotlight on the diversity of Sharjah’s natural terrain, we welcome investors to learn more about these opportunities.”

Feras Salibi, director of Licensing & Clients Relations at the Sharjah Media City (Shams), noted that the free zone dedicated to the media and communications industry “might be young as we started in 2017, but we are progressive.

"We have more than 10,000 companies operating within Shams’s world-class ecosystem, who not only benefit from the multitude of advantages that come with operating in a free zone but are also offered complete ecosystem support and digital innovations that helps them flourish and grow sustainably.”

The event, which took place at the Business Connect Centre, Expo 2020 Club where Invest in Sharjah will continue hosting networking meetings and businesses discussions until the conclusion of the Expo, was well attended by senior government officials, business council representatives, investors, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, C-suite executives, and leading members of Sharjah’s business community.

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