The Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah) and senior officials from business departments in Sharjah have met with top Dutch investors and national commercial entities at the ‘Sharjah–Netherlands Business Seminar’ in Rotterdam on Wednesday (May 9), sharing latest insights about Sharjah’s rapidly transforming economic experience, which has seen a given rise to lucrative business opportunities in a diversity of non-oil sectors.
The continuance of the consolidated business expansion efforts by the emirate’s top government and semi-government entities come at a time when Sharjah has recorded a 5 percent year-on-year growth in GDP attracting AED 5.97 billion in foreign direct investments (FDI) in 2017 compared AED 2.95 billion in 2016.
Representing Sharjah at the business seminar were senior executives and industry experts including HE Saeed Ali Yousef Al Nowais, UAE Ambassador in Netherlands; HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of Shurooq; HE Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams); HE Hussein Al Mahmoudi, CEO of the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park; Mohammed Juma’a Al Musharrakh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah; and Ahmed Saif Binsaed, Head of the Commercial Investment Section at Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD).
They were joined by around 200 Dutch counterparts, including Robert Paul Van, Chairman of the Dutch Business Council, officials from the Rotterdam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and top Dutch investors and representatives from various business sectors in the Netherlands.
In a welcome speech, HE Saeed Ali Yousef Al Nowais highlighted the deeply-rooted economic ties between the UAE and Netherlands that have contributed to increasing the volume of bilateral trade, which valued at AED18 billion in 2016. He commended Rotterdam’s strategic business expansion and growth in UAE markets, noting its recent decision to setting up new businesses in the country, through a delegation headed by H.E. Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor, City of Rotterdam, in late 2016, which was then followed by an MoU signing on innovation between His Excellency Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, and Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp.
He continued highlighting the positive step Sharjah has undertaken in approaching Dutch investors, during a strategic time where the Netherlands have recently confirmed their participation at the Expo 2020, which paves the way for new long-term investments within UAE markets.
HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal offered a detailed overview about the growing competitive advantages of doing business in Sharjah, the robust infrastructural facilities it can offer to existing and incoming foreign investors from around the world, low operating costs and the overall ease of doing business.
Sarkal has invited Dutch investors to visit Sharjah to gain first-hand knowledge about the unique offerings in the sectors they want to grow their businesses. He affirmed that in the process, they will be assists every step of the way by specialised government departments whose efforts are continually increasing Sharjah’s investment attractiveness on the global stage, stressing that their expert consultation and comprehensive services will be the bridge between their aspirations and new business opportunities.
For his part, Robert-Paul Van Tol, Chairman of the Dutch Business Council, highlighted advantages that Dutch companies can offer to the UAE with regards to transfer of expertise and technology to be utilised profitably to grow the emirate’s burgeoning the SMEs sector, and will further their innovation, training and human resource development capacities.
The seminar also featured an interactive session titled ‘Investment Opportunities in Sharjah’ between HE Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, HE Hussein Al Mahmoudi, Mohammed Juma’a Al Musharrakh, Ahmed Saif Binsaed and Robert Paul Van Tol, and moderated by Sam Stevens, Business Manager of the Trade Development at Rotterdam Partners.
It addressed the positive outcomes that Sharjah’s economic diversification efforts, which are being yielded by a variety of non-oil sectors, and have offered a great boost to foreign investments and consumer demand. A discussion was had on how these can be applied to the sectors of logistics, tourism, environment, healthcare, education, media and digital productions – some of the common areas of Sharjah–Netherlands business interests.
HE Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa said: “Sharjah Media City (Shams) seeks to introduce Dutch businessmen and media institutions to the plethora of world-class facilities and incentives offered by us, which they can use to their advantage thereby launching media platforms that target the region, from Sharjah. Through our visit, we aim to gain a clearer understanding of the Netherland’s media experience, the technologies they use in the digital and traditional media, and discuss possible avenues of cooperation and expertise-sharing in a beneficial way for both parties.”
HE Hussein Al Mahmoudi said: “The Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park is ideal for companies looking for an environment that motivates and supports their ambitions related to knowledge economy. Given that the park is a tax free haven, and enjoys an unrivalled legislative infrastructure in line with the finest international standards, I am sure several Dutch companies will consider it as a base to grow their businesses in the greater Arab region.
“We want this park to become home to knowledge-intensive businesses and major Arab research projects that can leverage from the knowledge and expertise offered by foreign companies based here. The Dutch offer one of the leading experiences the field, and by joining us, will add immense value to not just the destination but will fuel Sharjah’s growing ambitions in the fields of knowledge and innovation.”
Mohammed Juma Al Musharrakh said: “Currently 149 Dutch businesses are based in Sharjah. Through our visit, we aim to open doors of new opportunities to Dutch and European investors who seek to expand their business in of the world’s strongest and futuristic economies where they can invest in various sectors, including environment, media, tourism, education, healthcare, logistics and digital services. We welcomed Dutch companies seeking to establish regional centres and offices in the region where they can expand to international markets in Asia, Africa and overseas territories.”
Ahmed Saif Binsaed said: “Driven by its comprehensive and ambitious economic development vision, Sharjah has managed to establish its status among leading investment destinations in the Gulf region and Middle East. Sharjah’s local business sector has managed to achieve growth and prosperity due to the sophisticated legislative infrastructure in the emirate where its balanced economic system has contributed to diversifying investment options for businessmen and companies and help them clinch the best available opportunities.”
The visit is a follow up to the business roundtable this February, where Sharjah hosted over 150 Dutch investors, representing a mix of existing businesses based out of the emirate as well as business owners who travelled from the Netherlands to explore areas of interests.