Sharjah: After the first day of discussions at the Sharjah FDI Forum 2019 offered the UAE outlook on future strategies for boosting the nation’s foreign investment environment, the second day zoomed in on Sharjah’s capabilities to attract FDI in sectors like industry, media, publishing, among others.
The first panel discussion titled ‘Sharjah Government – Investing in Sharjah’, led by HE Hussain Mohammed Al Mahmoudi, CEO Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP); Mohammed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO, Sharjah FDI Office (Invest In Sharjah); Salim Omar Salim, Director, Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPCFZ); Shihab Ahmed Alhammadi, Director, Sharjah Media City Free Zone Authority (Shams); Abdul Aziz Mohammed Al Shattaf, Assistant Director General of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI); and, Colonel Abdullah Saleh Al Naqbi, Deputy Director of Entry and Residence Permits, updated the audience on the new direction and strategy across sectors to improve ease of doing business in Sharjah.
He talked about a strategic partnership SRTIP entered with the UK government, in addition to launching a report based on a benchmarking study of 12 ‘innovative cities’ to learn how Sharjah can be compared to them and improve its innovation practices. He also spoke of several new initiatives the Park has launched and partnerships it has struck, namely, an initiative to promote the role of women entrepreneurs in technology, joining forces with a 3D printing company, and the ongoing development of a regional virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AG) centre, which will be launched soon.
Al Mahmoudi said that these efforts were being made because, “training human capital is very important to us. The civil community needs to interact with new innovative concepts, not just by purchasing new technologies only, but by adopting them and finally, creating them too. We have to think in this direction if we are to realise Sharjah’s and UAE’s vision on the creation of a knowledge-based economy.”
Al Musharrkh was up next and emphasised the important role the Sharjah FDI Forum has played over the past five years highlighting new investment opportunities in the emirate, putting it on the global map of investments. “Sharjah’s strategic location, pro-investor legislations and services, robust infrastructure are all key enablers of the thousands of overseas businesses who have a regional base here. Latest FDI statistics for Sharjah reveal a 40 percent growth. We wanted an event to take this message to the region’s and the world’s investors. We have really grown – something evidenced by the 1,500 participants attending the forum this year.”
Elaborating on his announcement of the Sharjah Investors Services Center ‘Saeed’ at the forum yesterday, Al Musharrkh said that the centre’s promise of churning out business licences within 60 minutes at this one-window service for investors is being made possible through several partnerships they continue to forge with various government departments.
“We signed an MoU with Shams under which a license will be issued for the free zone by us. You wouldn’t need to go to Shams to do it. This is happening in Sharjah for the first time. We also have a proposal for the Entry and Residence Permits to rope in their golden visa service at Saeed. We have signed an agreement with SCCI bringing their services under our roof. All this within 60 minutes; we hope this will really boost customer and investor happiness in Sharjah.”
Reminiscing about a very successful Sharjah International Book Fair 2019, Salim Omar Salim noted that SPCFZ was an outcome of Sharjah’s cultural movement, just like the 38-year book fair.
Sharjah Publishing City has every service necessary to facilitate publishers and other businesses from around the world. We signed several deals at the book fair are expecting at least 17 new companies to be set up at SPCFZ by the end of the year. We are creating a foundation for publishers to grow and move globally, and they need an infrastructure too just like any other business”, he said.
Mentioning the range of world-class services offered by the City, Salim highlighted the significant partnership they recently signed with the world’s top print-on-demand facility, Ingram. “This is revolutionary for publishers who face issues with stocks, as this new facility can print books, starting from a single copy to as many as the publisher wants, in 24 hours.”
Describing Shams’ unique ‘hosting’ environment for media sector SMEs, Alhammadi highlighted that the free zone is equipped with a new business centre that has everything businesses need, “from lockers to high speed Internet, and everything in between”, to grow.
“We are coming up with three new buildings at Shams and moving steadily towards digitising all our services. We are working on creating a digital platform in Sharjah that will be accessible to all. An individual can start a TV channel and broadcast their show just through this platform. There are restrictions, of course, which we are working out with NMC,” he said.
“The shift from satellite to IPTV is already very visible. Video on Demand is also becoming popular. Shams is investing in technology in a significant manner and looking for right partnerships to bring these services into Shams. A video editing services suite will be offered by the city soon. We are looking at a reasonable pricing structure and swift execution of services online”, Alhammadi further added.
Mohammed Al Shattaf turned the spotlight on SCCI, saying: “Over two decades, we have been focusing on boosting the industry sector. Sharjah is home to over 2,500 factories, and 70 percent of our economy is supported by the industries sector. We would like to attract more technology- and knowledge-based businesses to the emirate to expand this sector.”
Comparing the growth in Sharjah’s exports in the past two years, he noted they have gone up from 60 to 65 billion dirhams, with Saudi Arabia and Oman being top GCC buyers.
From the Entry and Residence Permits, Col. Saleh Al Naqbi explained the requirements and pre-requisites to gain this residency. “Golden Visa is a permanent residency offered to investors and business owners for 10 years. A 5-year visa is given to property owners. Both are renewable and have been added to the UAE’s residency options to ensure the UAE economy continues to grow and attract investments.”
Keynote speech: Sharif Hallaba, Co-founder and COO, XLabs
The panel discussion was preceded by an insightful opening address by the co-founder of XLabs, who said that the direction for his technology company was set by asking the ‘why’ question.
“You can’t build technology just for the sake of it. You need to find a purpose, define your ‘why’. I wanted to unlock meaningful technologies in medicine, communication, and other important but undervalued sectors of the future without thinking about financial gains.
He also emphasised the need to stay focused on the human element while dabbling in technology. “We need to look at advancing human capabilities with use of technology. All technology must be created to amplify human life. How do we look at culture itself in a tech environment, for example? We could create an empathy layer in the Internet”.
Sharif left the audience saying that since the history of technology is still young, the human race had a huge role to play in it. But how they play this role will define the future, he said.
The two-day event titled ‘Future Trends in Foreign Direct Investment’, got underway at Sharjah’s Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre (JRCC) in the presence of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. The Forum is organised by the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), an affiliate of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).
© Press Release 2019