SHARJAH, 31st March, 2022 (WAM) — key highlight of the UAE government’s inaugural Investopia global investment summit, which was organised at the world Government Summit (WGS 2022) taking place in the Dubai Exhibition Centre at Expo 2020 Dubai recently. A dialogue led by the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah) to inform the global business and investment communities about future opportunities in the emirate.
Titled ‘Investment Opportunities In Sharjah’, the panel discussion was led by senior representatives of the emirate’s government departments, including Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Government Relations (DGR), Sharjah; Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah; Dr. Abdulaziz Al Muhairi, Director-General of Sharjah Health Authority; Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation (SRTI) Park; and Shihab Alhammadi, Director of the Sharjah Media City (Shams).
Moderated by Matthew Stephenson, Policy and Community Lead, International Trade and Investment at the World Economic Forum (WEF), the discussion focused on the key pillars of digitisation, resiliency and sustainability that are supporting Sharjah’s future growth across sectors. The speakers also turned the spotlight on the emirate’s competitive advantages and investor-friendly environment, and opined that healthcare, transport & logistics, agritech and fintech are among key sectors that will drive next generation of foreign direct investments in Sharjah.
Explaining the role of cultural diplomacy in forging business partnerships with likeminded nations and cities, Sheikh Fahim noted, “In the world we live in, megatrends of digitisation, sustainability, etc., are just abstracts, and when you start drilling down into what that means for a government, you realise that there is a lot of hard work that needs to follow. We need to understand economically, environmentally and socially, how every bit of policy we issue will be received by both the nationals and residents of Sharjah, and how it will be seen by partners – whether investors or countries we work with.
“At DGR, we look at forming partnerships through projects that help us promote cultural and human values important for Sharjah. For instance, when we worked on a project with the Vatican Museum, a key priority for us was to promote interfaith tolerance. So, we developed the first big cross-faith exhibition that was ever unveiled in a third country – in Australia in 2018.
“At DGR, we go out and find cities in which we know our investments into building relations we know will give us economic, social and environmental returns.”
Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh told the summit’s attendees, “This special session on Sharjah within the Investopia Summit confirms the emirate’s position as an attractive destination for foreign and local investments. For 50 years now, the emirate has played a leading role in amplifying the UAE’s global competitiveness as one of the most preferred investment destinations in the world for FDI. Sharjah is one of the most diversified emirates in the UAE and the region. Approximately 96% of economic activity in the emirate now comes from non-oil sectors. This strong and diversified economy with six specialised free zones, flexible investment options and a world-class infrastructure and services is today propelling Sharjah’s readiness for future growth”.
“The world has witnessed unprecedented changes in the last two years, and in order to continue building Sharjah’s resiliency by offering new, relevant opportunities to businesses and investors, healthcare, tourism, agriculture, technology, and entrepreneurship have been identified by Invest in Sharjah as key sectors for attracting future FDI. Also, facilities like the Sharjah Investors Services Centre (Saeed), for instance, which is a one-stop-shop that brings business and licensing services of both federal and local government entities on one platform, enable investors to set up shop in less than 24 hours,” he added.
Director-General of Sharjah Health Authority said, “Since the establishment of Sharjah Health Authority (SHA), we have been working with the private sector as well as key government entities like Dubai Health Authority, Department of Health in Abu Dhabi and the Ministry of Health and Prevention to offer the best possible healthcare to our citizens, residents and medical tourists. In 2012, the Sharjah Healthcare City Free Zone was launched as the investment arm of SHA to transform the emirate into the most preferred destination for healthcare services in the country and the region. The WHO awarded Sharjah the ‘Healthy City’ accreditation twice – once in 2015 and again in 2021, which makes us the only city in the region to have received this honour twice, setting us as a benchmark.”
“We welcome a diversity of investments and innovation in Sharjah Healthcare City Free Zone in our pursuit to become the leading provider of quality and affordable healthcare in our region. In the post-pandemic era opportunities in the sector have skyrocketed, especially in the sub-sectors of healthtech and R&D, and Sharjah is the place to capitalise on emerging prospects,” he added.
CEO of the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation (SRTI) Park opined, “Our main objective is to accelerate the pace of innovation in Sharjah, the UAE and the wider region. We are looking to do this in sectors as diverse as production, design, architecture, water technology, transport and logistics, digitisation, environmental tech, and more. We do this through the four main activities of developing innovation ecosystems to allow innovation to foster; by developing our talent pool, which a key objective of SRTIP; by developing technologies either by importing them and scaling them up at SRTIP or assisting with their development in universities and commercialising them; and finally, the creation of entreprises.”
“We have executed some cutting-edge technologies on ground. Today, the Park hosts the largest additive manufacturing and fourth industrial revolution (4IR) labs, which have successfully done 3D printing of metal for key industries like oil and gas and automotive. We also 3D print concrete and plastic. These innovations have made us a reference for both industry and academia,” he added.
The media and entertainment market in the Middle East is on track to surpass US$47 billion by 2026, the Director of the Sharjah Media City (Shams) said, noting that Shams is a catalyst for businesses to grow and thrive. “Sharjah Media City – home to a dynamic, tech-savvy community of businesses involved in everything from media to real estate and e-commerce – is a prominent platform for exploring investment opportunities in the emirate, as well as the UAE. We offer a host of benefits, including 100% ownership for foreign investors, a suite of integrated business development solutions, a wide range of commercial activities, and flexible regulations to switch between these activities. The number of companies registered with us has achieved 33% growth in 2021 only, with over 57% of companies renewing their licenses in that same year.”
“We are trying to incorporate cryptocurrency payments for the issuance of new business licenses. This should be rolled out in the next couple of months,” he added.
The Investopia Investment Summit recently signed off a Memorandum of Understanding with Invest in Sharjah to collaborate in the enrichment of the summit’s discussions and workshops that were held in the first edition and the second edition that will be held in 2023.
Investopia is a global summit from the UAE to the world. It is a platform organised in partnership with the World Government Summit Organisation, for dialogue on the future of emerging markets and world economies. It explores the prospects of global economic growth and enhances investments in the forthcoming decade.