This week’s Sharjah Forum brought together 150 decision makers from key government departments to discuss the emirate’s economy, economic development and strategies to attract continued foreign direct investment (FDI). Organised for the second time by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the forum was hosted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Sharjah Crown Prince, Deputy Ruler and Chairman of the Executive Council.
Held under the theme of “The Future of Sharjah”, the Sharjah Forum discussed ways to develop the emirate’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, create a sustainable knowledge-based economy and continue to grow key industrial sectors.
Guest speakers at the forum included Jared Cohen, Founder of Google Ideas, President of Jigsaw and Chief Advisor to Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Alec Ross, a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Johns Hopkins University and the author of the New York Times bestseller ‘The Industries of the Future.’
The past two years has seen the Sharjah government intensify efforts to attract and encourage entrepreneurs and investors and to develop Sharjah’s knowledge economy. Last year, the government announced Sharjah Media City Free Zone, Sharjah Publishing City and the AUS Research, Technology and Innovation (RTI) Park. Meanwhile, plans to push ahead with the masterplan for Sharjah Healthcare City were confirmed by the Ruler earlier this month. The government’s 2017 budget allocates 41 percent of spending of economic development.
Last year also saw the launch of ‘Sheraa’, the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre, by Shurooq and the American University of Sharjah, as an initiative to attract, inspire and foster entrepreneurial talent. In another effort to attract start-ups, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently announced 50 new offices that are offered free-of-charge to entrepreneurs as part of the chamber’s Incubate Business Programme.
Shurooq was established in 2009 with the aim of achieving social, cultural, environmental and economic development consistent with Sharjah’s distinctive Arab and Islamic identity. The authority has prioritised four key industrial sectors that are critical to Sharjah’s economic growth; transport and logistics, the environment, tourism, and healthcare. Shurooq drives a year-round calendar of trade and investment initiatives, including the annual Sharjah FDI Forum, and recently launched the ‘Invest in Sharjah’ brand to help position Sharjah’s investment proposition in global markets.