Sharjah Investment and Development (Shurooq) has been named the Top Investment Promotion Agency in the Middle East in Site Selection Magazine’s 2015 Best to Invest Awards, in recognition of the authority’s global initiatives to attract foreign direct investment to the Emirate of Sharjah. The award comes at a time of regional and global recognition for both Sharjah’s economy and Shurooq’s role as a development agency.
Sharjah’s economic development initiatives were put under a global spotlight in February, when Shurooq hosted the 2015 World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment: the first time that the event had been held in the Middle East and Africa. The forum welcomed international investors, policy makers and economic development organisations from all over the world.
Sharjah’s successful economic development policy and consistent fiscal management have been noted by global credit ratings agencies. Standard & Poor’s (S&P) assigns an A/A-1 long- and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings for the Government of Sharjah and Moody’s Investor Services a local and foreign-currency rating of A3. Last year’s US$ 750 billion (AED 275b) Sharjah sovereign sukuk was also awarded an A3 rating by Moody’s.
In testament to government efforts to develop the economy, Sharjah achieved 8.5 percent growth in it’s GDP (gross domestic product) during 2014. The emirate’s economy is unique in the GCC, with no single sector contributing more than 20 percent of its GDP. In an effort to maintain momentum, the government of Sharjah earmarked 45 percent of it’s record 2015 budget for economic development, increasing spend by 22 percent.
In March, Sharjah city was listed by fDI intelligence (a division of the Financial Times) in its 2014/2015 Global Cities of the Future report. Sharjah was ranked as one of the top ten small and mid-sized cities lists for Economic Potential, Human Capital and Lifestyle, Cost Effectiveness, Connectivity and Business Friendliness. Other countries in the small and mid-sized cities lists included Zurich, Geneva and Edinburgh.
Established in by Emiri Decree in 2009, Shurooq was created to oversee social, cultural, environmental and economic development guided by Sharjah’s distinct Arab and Islamic identity. The authority identifies and develops a diverse range of investment opportunities across the Sharjah Emirate, facilitating partnerships and connecting investors, corporations, and entrepreneurs with the right opportunities.
The key economic sectors identified by Shurooq as areas of potential economic development are travel and tourism, environment, healthcare, and transport and logistics. The Authority has an active ongoing calendar of trade promotions, exhibitions and marketing campaigns aimed at introducing Sharjah’s proposition to investors and businesses, regionally and worldwide.