Picture used for illustrative purpose. File
Sharjah’s investment environment as well as emerging potential in new sectors were topics that dominated the Sharjah-Singapore Investment Webinar discussions organised on Monday by the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah).
The webinar was operated under the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), in collaboration with the Singapore Business Council.
The virtually held meeting convened investors, business leaders and officials from both sides to explore stronger economic ties and synergies that the two commercial powerhouses of the East can explore in light of the paradigm shifts in business and economy induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prominent participants included Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of Shurooq; Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams); Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah; and Patrick Poon, Cargo Manager, Middle East and Africa, Singapore Airlines.
Harbinder Singh, President of Singapore Business Council, moderated the session.
Al Sarkal began with an emphasis on the longstanding relations between UAE and Singapore since 1985, which is reflected, among other things, in the facts that the UAE is Singapore’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and home to the region’s largest Singaporean expatriate community.
"UAE - Singapore bilateral trade stood at $18.1 billion in 2020," he told the delegates, adding this could be taken further in Sharjah, which, "offers a stable, business-friendly economy, low operating costs, and several incentives."
Health, agri-tech, IoT, renewable energy, smart city solutions, and sustainable construction received a special mention from Al Sarkal as potential sectors in Sharjah for Singapore-based business.
Responding to a question on Sharjah’s stand on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), Al Sarkal said, "Public-Private Partnerships have been a major contributor in driving Sharjah’s economy, especially since 2015 when Sharjah’s environmental and waste management company Bee’ah initiated a PPP for a solar power plant. We welcome private participation in Sharjah’s public-sector projects and are open to 30- to 50-year agreements."
Talking about opportunities in Shams, Al Midfa stated, "Services at Shams are curated to create cost-effective solutions for SMEs, established companies and freelancers that can help them embark on their business journeys with ease. Our two core values, transparency and accountability, ensure that companies setting up shop at Shams receive as much support and guidance from us as possible.
"We have tie-ups with banks to ensure our investors and partners have a seamless experience launching from Shams. We have more than 2 million sqm available for development at Shams and are open to exploring PPPs for the same."
Speaking about Invest in Sharjah’s services, Al Musharrkh said that Sharjah has invaluable investment and business opportunities for our Singaporean counterparts to explore, especially when Sharjah is home to 118 Singaporean companies operating across the emirate’s mainland and free zones.
"We expect this number to grow substantially over the next coming years, as Sharjah’s economic resilience continues to display positive business outlooks to investors worldwide, especially during the height of the pandemic last year which witnessed the addition of 24 new projects worth $220 million to our FDI portfolio," he noted.
"Sharjah has been pivoting to digitalise the economy, with a special focus on the innovation and artificial technology sectors. During the post-COVID recovery phase, Singapore investors can look forward to unprecedented opportunities in the Health and Wellbeing, Mobility & Logistics, Culture, Media & Tourism, AgriFood Technology, GreenTech, Human Capital & Innovation, Advanced Manufacturing, and Digitally Enabled Services," he added, elaborating on Sharjah free zones, which offer varied personalised services to both local and global investors that are tailored to sector-specific needs.
For his part, Singh commented, "As an emirate with one of the largest GDP’s in the region, a large domestic economy, good infrastructure and a place that is easy to do business, it is not surprising that Sharjah has become home to numerous Singaporean companies."
Poon, in turn, commended Sharjah’s and SAIF Zone’s services and facilities, which have all eased their national carrier’s entry into MENA and European markets.
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