Sharjah’s array of highly diversified investment sectors that are the focus of Austrian businesses and entrepreneurs took centre stage at a recent event.
The high-level virtual event titled ‘Sharjah-Austria Business Webinar’, organised recently by the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), operated under the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq). Hosting a wide range of Austria-based businessmen and entrepreneurs, UAE-based Austrian businesses as well as senior officials from the UAE and Austria, the business webinar targeted key sectors in focus such as renewable energy, logistical services, smart cities solutions, and development of eco-friendly technology. Apart from these sectors which present some of the fastest-growing business opportunities for Austrian investors in Sharjah, the event also showcased other major areas of interest in the emirate such as education, advanced technology, and agriculture, among many others.
He added: “Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between UAE and Austria in 1974, the UAE has become not only a political partner, but also Austria’s most significant trade and economic partner in the Gulf Region. More than 400 Austrian companies are currently operating in the UAE, which has become a strategic business centre that offers a favourable investment environment in the Mena region and West Asia. The UAE has also become the key logistics hub for Austria’s exports to the region.”
There are also around 45 free zones in the UAE, all of which are characterized by an array of advantages like full tax exemption and 100 per cent foreign ownership of the enterprise. Moreover, UAE’s new Foreign Direct Investment Law, which permits 100 per cent foreign ownership in some sectors, has contributed to enhancing the investment environment and attracting foreign investments to the UAE.
Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, executive chairman, of Shurooq, said the economic interdependence between Austria and the UAE had been growing year on year, since the two nations had commenced diplomatic ties in 1974.
Al Sarkal elaborated: “Today, the UAE is the largest trading and business partner for Austria in the Gulf region. In Sharjah specifically, there is growing interest in Austrian high-tech solutions pertaining to innovations in the health sector and areas related to agri-tech, IoT, renewable energy, smart cities solutions, and sustainable construction. With digitisation powering the future of the global economy, there are real opportunities for foreign direct investment across sectors right here in Sharjah’s vibrant, diversified economy.”
He pointed out that thousands of companies around the world were today leveraging the business-friendly environment and investment opportunities in emerging sectors available in Sharjah. “We have around 45,000 SMEs operating in various sectors like healthtech, foodtech and fintech operations, driving innovation-oriented growth, creating new jobs, and stimulating the UAE’s knowledge-based economy. Sharjah’s R&D capabilities are also growing at lightning speed, thanks to Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park), setting the stage for further growth of intellectual and human capital. All this shows that the future of business and investment is right here in Sharjah.”
For his part, Waleed Abdel Rahman BuKhatir, second vice chairman of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, affirmed that the UAE and Austria’s shared mutual visions and economic development policies, as well as their economic openness, have helped in strengthening and expanding its plans for more strategic future cooperation, and to focus on key sectors.
BuKhatir noted that the growing relations between the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Austria have witnessed many milestones over the past few years in the field of academic and professional training and qualification, as well as receiving a number of Austrian trade missions across various economic sectors.
Outlining Sharjah’s competitive edge in attracting investors from across the world, Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh; CEO of Invest in Sharjah, said: “Sharjah offers a stable, secure, and resilient economy to invest in. Last year, Sharjah recorded Dh100 billion in GDP, growing 5.1 per cent over the 2018 GDP. Sharjah’s investment sector grew by 4.1 per cent in 2019, with our capital formation increasing to AED 30 billion. Our domestic production too went up by 4.3 per cent.”
He added: “Sharjah is among the few cities in the region to establish a set of free zones specialised in providing personalised services tailored to the needs of various sectors, and which cater to investors locally and globally. All this have boosted the emirate’s global appeal as one of the most diverse and flexible economies in the region.”
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