The most effective ways of enhancing business between Sharjah and Portugal were high on the agenda at a key meeting organised by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) in collaboration with AICEP Portugal Global Trade and Investment Agency.
More than 50 business stakeholders attended the premium roundtable event, which was held at Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and which brought together senior dignitaries from Sharjah’s business community and representatives from successful Portuguese companies based in the UAE.
Welcome addresses from the hosts were given by H.E. Khalid bin Butti Al Hajri, Director General, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, H.E. Marwan Al Sarkal, CEO, Shurooq. The event was also attended by His Excellency Dr. Jose Andrade de Lemos, Ambassador of Angola in the UAE. UAE-based representative for the visiting delegation, Eng. Manuel Couto Miranda, Trade Commissioner, Portuguese Embassy in Abu Dhabi, spoke of the mutually rewarding relationship that his European country and the UAE emirate enjoys.
Eng. Manuel Couto Miranda expressed his view on the strategic value behind the relationship between Portugal and the UAE, and said: “Two years ago, the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) signed an agreement with Aicep Portugal for scaling up avenues of joint cooperation in industrial and technological sectors. This prominently increased their bilateral trade and resulted with one of the most successful and diverse Portuguese companies in the UAE. We are proud to announce that 575 UAE-based Portuguese companies are successfully conducting businesses and investments in multiple sectors such as technology, trade, manufacturing, garments and health. We are here today to build on this monumental success hoping to expand our businesses across all emirates.”
“As the most diversified economy in the UAE, Sharjah occupies a unique position within the country. Its many attractions and its economic and tourism investment opportunities are enhanced by sophisticated infrastructure and advanced communications networks that allow for easy access to local and international markets. Sharjah’s diversified economy now includes multiple tourism projects which have attracted millions of dollars’ worth of investments. These projects have allowed investors to be pioneers with their products and services and to grow their profitability in niche markets,” said H.E. Marwan Al Sarkal, CEO, Shurooq, speaking to the guests.
Following a short film presentation about Sharjah’s success stories, which profiled the most prominent investment sectors for the Portuguese business community, including arts, heritage, industry, trade, environment, tourism, hospitality, leisure, family entertainment and education, a panel discussion was held. Fielding the questions at the forum were Mr. Mohamed Al Musharrkh, Deputy Director of Sharjah FDI; Mr. Mohamed Almahmoud, Commercial Director, Sharjah Airport International Free Zone; Mr. Fahad Shehail, Chief Development Officer, Bee’ah; Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Muhairi, Director, Sharjah Health Authority; Mr. Ahmed Al-Suwaidi, Head of Commercial Investment Section, Sharjah Economic Development Department and Ms. Lurdes Eusebio, Managing Director of the successful UAE-based Portuguese business, The First International Business. Panel moderator was Dr. Caetano Leitao, Consultant at One Advice.
During the discussion a number of important financial fact and figures relating to Portugal and Sharjah were reiterated, with the observation that the two entities have a great deal in common. Cited during the talks was the March 2016 report from Moody’s, the renowned bond credit rating organisation, that stated that Portugal’s economy was ranked as ‘very comfortable’ and its expectation that the country would experience strong growth as its government pursues more strategic local and global investments. Also mentioned was the statistic that bilateral trade between the UAE and Portugal was valued at AED 1.23 billion in 2015, with the two countries aiming to double this figure to AED 2.5 billion in 2016. Sharjah’s positioning as one of the leading and most diverse economy across the entire MENA region was highlighted.
Mohammed Al Musharrkh, Deputy Director of Sharjah Foreign Direct Investment at Shurooq, said; “We seek to attract foreign direct investment to Sharjah, through introducing business and stakeholders to the diverse features and opportunities in the emirate by means of internal and external promotional campaigns. Over the past few years, Shurooq has launched a number of projects that have transformed Sharjah into an attractive destination in the tourism investment sector. These projects need technology and consulting experts, as well as other key professionals. This represents a great opportunity for Portuguese companies to achieve a great ROI within a tax-free work environment.”
For his part, Mohamed Almahmoud, Commercial Director, Sharjah Airport international Free Zone, said; “Our free Zone offers a range of incentives and attractions to investors, such as the possibility of 100 per cent company ownership, exemption from taxes, rapid granting of visas, quick facilitating of incorporation procedures, close proximity to the airport ensuring the smooth flow logistic operations, and the ability to get a business license within 48 hours, with plans to reduce the time to two hours in the near future.”
For his turn, Fahad Shehail, Chief development Officer at Bee’ah,’ said; “Bee’ah focuses on responsible environmental practices, waste management and spreading awareness about the importance of recycling. The company currently recycles 70 per cent of waste going to dumpsters in the emirate. Our goal is to increase waste recycling up to 100 per cent and we are collaborating with partners to achieve this. Bee’ah will soon start operating in Saudi Arabia and Oman, which confirms its success in establishing its name on the wider regional map. Our operations give Portuguese companies opportunities in several fields, including; investing in the marketing of our production of raw materials that are produced as a result of the recycling operations, such as plastic, wood, glass and compost.”
Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Muhairi, Director of the Sharjah Health Authority, said; “The health sector in Sharjah includes pioneering projects that attract international companies. Our most important project is Sharjah Medical City, which extends over an area of 2.5 million square metres and is designed to be the first city of its kind in the world. There are huge opportunities to invest in the city, with its highly advanced infrastructure and strategic location near the Mohammed bin Zayed road and Emirates Road. Sharjah Medical City provides an entire array of health facilities, including those not found elsewhere in the UAE. All of these factors make it one of the most attractive investment destinations in the UAE, especially with regards to the benefits we offer to investors, such as the ability to complete proceedings through a single window.”
Ahmed Al Suwaidi, Head of the Commercial Investment Section, Sharjah Economic Development Department, said; “Our department is dedicated to making business in the emirate straightforward and complication-free. In doing so, we have provided investors with 130 electronic and intelligent services designed to save them a great deal of time and effort. Sharjah Economic Development Department also ensures that its structures are sustainable. I am confident that Portuguese companies looking to invest in Sharjah will find what they are looking for in the emirate’s rich projects that provide them with real opportunities from which they can benefit.”
Finally, giving her experience of setting up a company in Sharjah, Ms. Lurdes Eusebio, Managing Director of The First International Business, said that it was a combination of ease of operation and Sharjah’s central location that encouraged her to start her business in the emirate. She explained that she received her business licence in one day, was able to enjoy 100 per cent ownership of her company and since starting it, has enjoyed numerous services in the emirate that have facilitated its growth and expansion.