Sharjah FDI Forum hits the five-year milestone: Region's top thought-leadership platform driving responsible investments

The economy is projected to grow 3.3 per cent in 2020 supported by a strong 4 percent non-oil growth projected for that year, according to IMF

Sharjah FDI Forum hits the five-year milestone: Region's top thought-leadership platform driving responsible investments

Next month, on November 11 – 12, 2019, over 1,000 regional and global leaders in business and economy are expected to gather at the fifth edition of the Sharjah FDI Forum to discuss trends that will drive the future of foreign investments in the UAE and the region, training light on how development and strategies can continue to maximise benefits at a time the global economy undergoes radical transformations. 

The event has chosen the theme ‘Future Trends in Foreign Direct Investment’ and seeks to promote policy and investment discussions, which will offer a strong push to sustainable development, responsible investments and inclusive global growth.

Despite trade barriers and geopolitical tensions, FDI flows to the United Arab Emirates remained largely unchanged in 2018, at $10 billion (World Investment Report 2019, UNCTAD). The economy is projected to grow 3.3 per cent in 2020 supported by a strong 4 percent non-oil growth projected for that year, according to IMF.

The understanding that increased FDI flows are critical to the sustainable development of any country – reflected in the UAE government’s 2018 FDI law, which projects an increase investment flows by up to 20 percent this year, or, Sharjah’s strategic efforts to become a top FDI destination by diversifying its economy which it has done successfully as no economic sector contributes more than 20 percent to its GDP – formed the basis for an FDI gathering in the emirate of Sharjah to bring the region together on one stage to share experiences and discuss best practices.  

2015: Global debut

In 2015, the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) brought the 12th edition of the World Forum for FDI for the first time in the MENA region under the theme ‘Where East Meets West’. At the opening ceremony on February 8, 2015, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council Ruler of Sharjah, said: “Sharjah is a safe investment destination just as it is a cultural and educational destination”. The Sharjah Ruler asserted that the emirate was building its economy with the vision of building its human capital physically, intellectually, and economically.

Commenting on the region’s economic state in 2015, HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of Shurooq, said: “The region’s economy at the time, particularly in the UAE and Sharjah, was focused on inclusive development, which gave it a social dimension, as expressed by the Sharjah Ruler’s keynote speech at the event. He asserted that we needed to bring the world together to discuss how we can build an economy that meets people’s aspirations and is driven by young leaders.”

And on this global platform, the idea of turning Sharjah into an annual meeting point for the regional and global foreign direct investment community was birthed, signaling the debut edition of Sharjah FDI forum under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi.

2016: Offering a gateway to the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia

In 2016, the second edition of the Sharjah FDI Forum was announced by Shurooq to provide intrenational investors an unrivalled opportunity to examine the outlook for investment in the UAE and in Sharjah, available to their businesses.

Through its comprehensive programme featuring a combination of keynote addresses and 30 lively panel debates from 300 international business leaders and high level policy makers, all keen to share their knowledge and experience, attendees benefitted from insights into how to set up a business in the UAE and specifically Sharjah, learnt about costs, locations and the existing business sentiments to ensure a successful investment, and uncovered the potential for public-private partnerships.

On the sidelines of the international event, Shurooq made a landmark announcement in the presence of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, the launch of the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah). Since inception, Invest in Sharjah has operated under Shurooq to make a tremendous impact to drive more long-term and qualitative investments into Sharjah and the UAE to drive national and regional FDI performance and growth. Recently, these efforts were recognised by the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA), which nominated them to assume MENA’s regional directorship at WAIPA for a two-year term, until 2021.

2017: A revolution of investment cultures in the 4IR era

In its third year, the forum decided to bring the Forth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to the centerstage at a time when this global phenomenon continued to intensify its influence in every aspect of our lives, and everyone – including global economies – desperate to get to grips with it. What will the future of the global economy be and how will FDI realities transform, faced by the unprecedented proliferation of rapidly advanced technologies like AI, robotics, IoT, and blockchain? The two-day discussions at the third Sharjah FDI forum addressed these crucial topics, and enabled investors and policymakers to return home with new direction and substantial answers. 

2018: Pushing ahead with the ‘qualitative investments’ framework  

The fourth edition of Sharjah FDI Forum held in December last year, once again, brought engaged investors, business leaders, government decision-makers, thought leaders and professionals together to look at how to boost innovation, technology, research and development to support rapidly transforming and diversifying business ecosystems in the wake of trends new technologies like the fifth-generation (5G) mobile network, and artificial intelligence (AI). The two-day event under the theme ‘Shaping the Future of Economies,’ showcased UAE’s competitiveness on the global investment map and the integration of innovative solutions and technologies in boosting competitiveness and sustainability.

Commenting the forum’s 5-year success story, Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), said: “Each edition of the forum was reinforced with an agenda that is continuously aligned with international market trends as well as economic challenges and opportunities.”

He continued: “What began as a local event to shed light on foreign investment issues, has today become a thought leadership and business networking forum of international repute – a must-attend on the annual calendar of top-tier government leaders and C-suite Executives. These included CEOs, CIOs, economists, industry leaders, financial experts, digital technology experts and investment consultants from key industries like government, banking & insurance, manufacturing, retail, tourism & real estate, construction & engineering, energy, power, oil & gas, health & education, and others.”

The fifth edition, held under the patronage of His Highness The Ruler of Sharjah and is held at the Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre (JRCC) in Sharjah, will also highlight the need to create a global innovation mindset that is driven by open exchange of ideas and enhancing user experiences.

© Press Release 2019

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