Sharjah’s economy and the success of its economic development strategies are expected to take centre stage at Sharjah FDI Forum, which takes place 28-29 September 2016 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
This is the second time in three years that Sharjah has hosted a global foreign direct investment conference, drawing together investors, consultants, government policy makers and multi-national corporations from around the world. Organised by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and the Financial Times, the two day event brings focus to how the Gulf region’s economies have fared after a ten year period of unprecedented economic change. During that period the world has seen the global financial meltdown of 2007/2008, crude oil prices fall up to 70 percent of their value since mid-2014 and global warming become the world’s most significant global economic risk(1).
Against the backdrop of widespread global and regional economic uncertainties, the government of Sharjah has successfully devised, developed and implemented a unique development strategy. While many economies have struggled to simply cope with reality, Sharjah has sought to change it, pursuing the Ruler’s vision to create a sustainable, diversified economy, guided by the emirate’s Islamic and cultural values.
Sharjah has long been established as the manufacturing and industrial base of the United Arab Emirates, has a vibrant real estate market and boasts world-class sea, air and land transport and logistics. In fact, it remains one of the most diversified economies in the region, which has helped to shelter it from much of the fallout from the oil price plunge.
However, it is Sharjah’s long term commitment to Islamic, Arab and UAE culture, often in the face of foreign advice to the contrary, that has helped to make its economic development efforts so distinctive and successful. The emirate’s continued investment in Islamic and cultural resources, environmental management and preserving local heritage have slowly transformed Sharjah into, what has become, a fascinating destination for tourists, a world-recognised centre for arts and culture and a stimulating environment to work and live in.
Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021, a strategic plan developed by Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) aims to attract more than 10 million tourists to the emirate by year 2021. Sharjah International Airport’s goal is to handle 25 million passengers by the year 2025. Total passenger numbers passing through the airport topped 10 million for the first time during 2015, and 2016 numbers are so far up 12 percent on last year.
Many of government’s latest efforts aim to attract and encourage entrepreneurs and investors to develop Sharjah’s knowledge economy. To this end, the formation of Sharjah Media City Free Zone and the AUS Research, Technology and Innovation (RTI) Park were announced earlier this year.
Watch the Sharjah FDI Forum video
Meanwhile, a new Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre called ‘Sheraa’ was launched by Shurooq and the American University of Sharjah: one of many recent government initiatives to foster entrepreneurial talent. Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently announced that it will offer 50 new offices free-of-charge to entrepreneurs as part of the chamber’s Incubate Business Programme.
Sharjah’s plans for sustainability extend to a wide range of economic, environmental, ecological and societal spheres. The government created Bee’ah in 2007, an integrated environmental services company, with a brief to divert 100 percent of the emirate’s landfill waste to recycling and waste-to-energy power. The government also put public health high on its agenda, joining the World Health Organisation (WHO) Healthy Cities in 2012. Sharjah city was officially accredited as the Middle East’s first WHO Healthy City in 2015.
Topics to be discussed at Sharjah FDI Forum will include Sharjah’s economic track-record, its business and investment environment, its successes in encouraging inward investment and case studies from some of the emirate’s best known brands.
(1) World Economic Forum, May 2016