Sharjah Media City Free Zone has now been established by royal decree, which orders the creation of a competitive and sustainable tax-free zone city with world-class infrastructure and services. The new zone will have legal independence over licencing and media regulations, although governed by the laws of the United Arab Emirates and Sharjah.
The move follows in the wake of a number of government, business and education sector initiatives to foster entrepreneurialism and encourage startups to establish themselves in Sharjah. The new media city is expected to appeal to startups and other SMES (small and medium-sized enterprises) in the UAE and from across the region.
Sharjah already has two popular free zones: Hamriyah Free Zone and Sharjah Airport Free Zone (SAIF Zone), both established in 1995. The two combined accommodate about 13,500 companies from 157 countries representing a wide range of industries from petroleum and plastics through to food products. The zones also include advertising, marketing, printing and publishing ventures.
Despite lacking a dedicated media zone, Sharjah has a long been influential in the region’s media sector. Sharjah-headquartered Dar Al Khaleej began publishing, ‘Al Khaleej’, the first newspaper in the United Arab Emirates in 1970. Today, Al Khaleej remains the most read Arabic language newspaper in the Emirates. The emirate has also provided the launch pad for numerous media, advertising and marketing companies in the region.
According to the emiri decree, no. 10 of 2016, Sharjah Media City Free Zone’s mandate is to play a lead role in growing the emirate’s media and creative sectors, attracting entrepreneurs and startups and developing local talent.
Sharjah Media City will be granted funds by the government, but will also be revenue generating and aim to create profit. Senior management and an organisation president are expected to be appointed by the Ruler in the near future.
The new zone will be located on the Al Dhaid road, less than 15 minutes from Sharjah International Airport, 30 minutes from Sharjah city centre and half an hour from Dubai International Airport.
Source: Sharjah government, various
Updated 31 March 2017: Sharjah Media City location