Sharjah: The powerhouse of the UAE

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| The European | 11 May 2017

Invest in Sharjah was launched in September 2016 by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and unveiled a rich array of investment opportunities in the emirate to business people and investors across all sectors.

Invest in Sharjah was structured following studies and high level meetings with business experts and aims to help investors and entrepreneurs maximise the potential of their operations by providing them with guidance and direction on growth opportunities. It enhances cooperation and partnerships between entities to ensure that expertise and knowledge is shared regarding the unique cultural, commercial and social environment in Sharjah.

The brand is also in line with Shurooq’s strategy to position Sharjah as a premier global investment destination where a commitment to innovation characterises emirate’s appeal. It also plays a key role in establishing long-term joint ventures and business practices.

Sharjah is widely recognised as both a leading industrial hub and as a centre for arts and culture. Under the patronage of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the emirate’s cultural scene has flourished since its designation as UNESCO’s ‘Cultural Capital of the Arab World’, a title it was awarded in 1998. Today, the emirate is home to nearly a quarter of all of the UAE’s museums and is the host for seminal international and regional events, such as the Sharjah Biennial and the Sharjah International Book Fair. New activities are being added to Sharjah’s extensive social calendar every day.

Opportunities abound

There is lucrative business potential in tourism, healthcare, environmental management and transport and logistics; focusing not just on individual industries but also across all services and traditional sectors. These will receive a huge boost with the funds available from the emirate’s record-breaking AED22bn 2017 budget, of which 30% has been allocated to infrastructure and 41% to economic development. The combination of soft and hard industry in conjunction with the development of physical assets and infrastructure is critical to the rise of a vibrant and economically sustainable emirate.

In 2015, the market size for Sharjah’s tourism sector reached AED1.2bn and was on progress to hit AED1.5bn by year-end 2016. Sharjah’s top eco, agro and cultural tourism projects, such as the Mleiha Archaeological and eco-tourism project, Al Noor Island and the Kalba Eco-tourism project have played a large part in that success.

From the children’s playgrounds at the Al Majaz Waterfront to the array of culinary options at Al Qasba to the traditional celebrations in the Heart of Sharjah heritage district, there is a noticeable upward trend in the emirate’s overall quality of life.

At the other end of the spectrum, 18 industrial zones spanning 15sqkm that border Dubai serve as the heart of the UAE’s manufacturing sector.

The emirate’s transportation and logistics sector is set to see further growth in the coming years, driven by factors such as the ongoing rapid development of passenger traffic at Sharjah International Airport. Already assured is the emirate’s status as a national and regional industrial centre with its three highly strategic port locations.

With regards to the healthcare sector, the completion of Sharjah Healthcare City is likely to raise the profile of the emirate as a medical destination in the region, the benefits of which benefits could filter down to hospitals and clinics located outside the free zone. With high rates of return for private health care providers setting up in the emirate and a continuously increasing population, there are a wide range of opportunities in the emirate’s healthcare sector. The focus on raising standards of medical facilities in the UAE bodes well for the economy, with residents benefitting most of all.

A testament to the emirate’s pro-business environment, logistics infrastructure and available labour force, Sharjah’s manufacturing sector represents 33% of the UAE’s total and has more than 1,444 registered entities. Manufacturing is a crucial linchpin of the emirate’s overall economy and contributes to approximately 19% of the annual GDP.

Ultimately, thanks to the diverse nature of Sharjah’s economy, prospects for growth will depend less on the fortunes of international oil prices in the coming years. Plans for even greater incentives to attract foreign investment will help to further increase the number of opportunities available and broaden the scope of Invest in Sharjah to facilitate them.

Further information
shurooq.gov.ae

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