Top officials pose for a group photo at the event in Sharjah.
The Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), an affiliate of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) organised a Sharjah – Europe Business Roundtable, at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently, to explore interests with 6 European business councils based in the UAE, and to introduce emerging prospects in a variety of sectors attractive to European investors.
The roundtable served to highlight sectors which have been playing increasingly important roles in enriching Sharjah’s FDI appeal, such as transportation and logistics, light manufacturing, travel and leisure, environment, technology and innovation, healthcare, education and research, start-ups and SMEs.
Prominent attendees included Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of Shurooq; Taina Sateri, Trade Counsellor Delegation of the European Union to the UAE and Oliver Oehms, CEO of the German Emirati Joint Council for Industry and Commerce (AHK).
The event also saw the participation of Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media Free Zone (Shams); HE Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park; HE Saud Salim Al Mazrouei, Director of the Hamriyah Free Zone Authority and Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF Zone); Salim Omar Salim, Director of Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone; Mohammed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of Sharjah FDI Office; and Ammar Alul, Managing Director of Schuco Middle East Windows & Façade Systems LLC, in a panel session where they shared local business expertise and shed light on the new and evolving opportunities in their respective sectors to the European delegation. The roundtable was moderated by Ali Kanani, Member of the Swiss Business Council.
Sharjah has been collaborating with the European business community across several sectors including trade, culture and tourism over several years. As of November 2019, the number of European companies registered in Sharjah include 423 from France; 396 from Germany; 148 from Belgium; 96 from Spain; 86 from Portugal; 92 from Switzerland; and 18 from The Netherlands.
These numbers continue to grow due to the Sharjah government’s pro-investor policies and strategic budget allocations, For instance, out of the approved 2019 budget of US$9 billion for Sharjah, 23 percent has been dedicated to the development and improvement of its infrastructure, and 41 percent has been committed towards the economic development sector.
Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of Shurooq, noted the importance of the roundtable in offering European investors the opportunity to take a closer look at Sharjah’s rapidly diversifying economy and to showcase its major projects, such as the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park), which is a centre for innovation and applied sciences research; the Sharjah University City, Sharjah Media City (Shams) and our other free zones such as the Sharjah Airport Free Zone and the Hamriyah Free Zone, with customised services.
Al Sarkal explained: “Our trade relations with Europe goes back 40 years. A key area where we seek to create partnerships are with Europe-based tech, R&D and education firms. The EU is a world leader in research and development, and has some of the highest-rated universities and research institutions. It also has one of the most robust systems of intellectual property protections.”
He continued: ”There are competitive advantages in partnering and investing in key projects such as the Sharjah Sustainable City, which is currently redefining sustainable living in Sharjah, as well as our three leading property projects under the “Sharjah Eagle Hills” which are Maryam Island, Kalba Waterfront and Palace Al Khan, all valued at Dhs4.7 billion. These projects, along with other leading real estate projects such as Al Jada and Al Mamsha projects, all present huge opportunities for EU investors in Sharjah.”
Taina Sateri, Trade Counsellor Delegation of the European Union to the UAE, in her welcome note address, said: “It is exciting to hear about the many investment opportunities in Sharjah. The European Union (EU) is a very important trade partner of the UAE and Sharjah. Bilateral trade between UAE and EU grew to 50 billion euros in 2018. Exports from UAE to EU has also steadily grown, showing an increase of 35 percent last year, compared to 2017. We believe that there is room for improvement, and we hope to build on this momentum to increase bilateral trade with Sharjah.”
She added: “The EU has strong links with the UAE with 27 member states having embassies here and more than 20 national business councils represented in the country. Our economies are transforming even as the world around us is changing faster than ever. We cannot afford to fight that transformation. Innovation is the key to expansion. When governments facilitate innovation, there is rapid development which results in improved services that translate to growth in trade.”
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