In another ambitious move to increase Sharjah’s depth and reach of foreign investment, some of the emirate’s most influential economic drivers met with trade delegates, officials and businesspeople from Hong Kong recently, to present the unique opportunities and incentives which make Sharjah one of the most attractive investment destinations in the region.
Sharjah’s FDI Office ‘Invest in Sharjah’, the investment promotions arm at Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), in association with Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), and Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA), with the association of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) organised the Sharjah Hong Kong Business Roundtable where more than 100 Hong Kong and UAE business and company representatives came together at the headquarters of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Aiming to explore new ways to strengthen economic cooperation and take bilateral partnerships to greater heights, the B2B meeting was attended by high-level leaders from the public and private sectors, including His Excellency Khalid bin Butti Al Hajri, Director General of SCCI, Mohammad Jumaa Al Musharrkh, Director of Invest in Sharjah, Hamad Al Shamsi, Head of Sales at HFZA, Perry Fung, Regional Director, Middle East & North Africa at HKTDC and Stephen Liang, Assistant Executive Director at HKTDC.
The roundtable focused on potential investors to introduce them to Sharjah’s increasingly lucrative business environment and the vast opportunities in its most attractive sectors, particularly tourism and leisure, healthcare, environment & renewable energy and transport and logistics.
His Excellency Khalid bin Butti Al Hajri, Director General of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the audience that with a GDP of more than USD 38 billion, Sharjah has become a hub of not just regional trade but global investment. In addition, Al Hajri noted that Sharjah’s special relationship with Hong Kong – it is the UAE’s 10th largest trading partner – has already led to a deep understanding of each other’s interests and needs.
He added: “We are delighted that so many Hong Kong businesses are taking advantage of the unique benefits that our emirate has to offer and that we have built and continue to build such strong relationship across all sectors and industries.”
He continued: “With access to more than more than a third of the world’s entire population, Sharjah is a true gateway to consumers for the global businesses who are taking full advantage of such outstanding possibilities.”
During his welcoming speech to the delegates, Mohammed Jumaa Al Musharrakh, Director of Invest in Sharjah Office, highlighted the values, strategic mission and economic vision Hong Kong and the UAE both share: “Be it business, culture or politics, the UAE and Hong Kong have enjoyed a thriving relationship for nearly forty years. We continue to be Hong Kong’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and last year’s bilateral trade figures stood at USD 10.5 billion, indicating a growth rate of 5 percent. We are very much kindred spirits in terms of our economic outlook and ability to discern successful investments. Moreover, I am delighted that you will be able to appreciate and recognise for yourselves why Sharjah has become such a primary investment destination for so many companies and countries across the world.”
Invest in Sharjah continued with a special presentation offering guests how Sharjah was experiencing some of its most exciting times in terms of diversification, expansion and integration and as the emirate moves away from an oil-based economy, it has reassessed its key industries and works with new investors as advisors, facilitators and business partners.
The presentation allowed guests to receive hands-on insights on how Sharjah’s economy transitioned into a well integrated platform, thanks to the continuous efforts and support of multiple government entities in the emirate, who have all contributed to creating a world class model that combines the private and public sector in an efficient, sustainable, investor-friendly framework which is both cost-effective and time-efficient.
Stephen Liang, Assistant Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council added that there were several sectors which have already based many of their regional operations out of Sharjah.
He said: “There are companies that represent an entire spectrum of industries here, from fashion and accessories to healthcare and much more. As the world’s largest exporter of jewellery, watches and clocks, and one of the major sources of toys and home appliances, Hong Kong sees this as a very important market.”
Hong Kong is also the world’s largest exporter of mobile phones, and in a sector where the Middle East has the largest mobile phone penetration in the world, Sharjah has even more potential as an operations base.
In a presentation on Hamriyah Free Zone, the Hong Kong entrepreneurs heard that the authority’s one-stop-shop process meant that for a business to set up took just 45 minutes from registering the application to receiving the trading licence.
The presentation allowed guests to receive comprehensive information on the types of sectors, businesses and amenities entrepreneurs and SMEs can receive through their business relation with Hamriya Free Zone.
The Roundtable concluded with a series of queries through a network session, which saw multiple investors and business owners from Hong Kong engage with multiple representatives from SCCI, HFZA and Invest in Sharjah, exploring new business ventures with the emirate.