Sheikh Abdullah Bin Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi and Sheikha Bodour with other dignitaries at the opening of the Sharjah Investment Forum on Wednesday.
Inayat-ur-Rahman, Business Editor
In the presence of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, and Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the sixth edition of the Sharjah Investment Forum (SIF) officially launched on Wednesday at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre.
Themed “Redefining Economies: Making Significant Strides for a Better Future”, SIF 2023 aims to provide a platform for exploring investment opportunities in Sharjah, which has an integrated infrastructure with six free zones and 33 industrial zones, flexible laws and regulations, and a focus on sustainability and green growth. The highly anticipated two-day event is bringing together over 1,600 participants, including international experts, senior officials, investors, and business leaders, to discuss the latest market trends and developments in the global investment sector.
Sheikh Abdullah Al Qasimi was accompanied by Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi on a tour at the SIF 2023 venue discussing Shurooq’s vision and aspiration for the event, and visiting partners’ exhibits showcasing the latest offerings, services and products from key industries.
Sheikha Bodour emphasised on the importance of this year’s forum theme and its effect on investment choices by regional investors, stressing on the need to speed up investment in sustainable future initiatives.
In his keynote opening speech themed ‘A Future-Ready Economy,’ Abdullah Bin Touq, UAE Cabinet Member and Minister of Economy, said: “Under the patronage of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, the SIF has gained momentum to become a key event that attracts global investors and decision-makers. The outputs of this edition of the forum are expected to contribute to the enhancement of UAE’s efforts aimed at attracting foreign investments to priority sectors, and to the achievement of its goal that seeks to attract $150 billion by 2031.”
He said the UAE remains steadfast in its commitment to economic openness policies and integration into the global trading system in spite of the recent global economic challenges. “This approach has garnered significant attention, with the UAE ranking first in foreign direct investment inflow from West Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. In 2021. The UAE has attracted foreign direct investments worth $21 billion, marking a 15% growth from pre-pandemic levels and accounting for 40% of total foreign direct investments in the Arab countries.”
Bin Touq also highlighted the UAE’s success in becoming one of the world’s leading investment-exporting countries, ranking 17th globally with $22.5 billion in foreign investment flows. “This success is attributed to a series of strategic economic and social initiatives, including the amendment of the Commercial Companies Law to allow for 100% foreign ownership and the modernization of visa and residency systems. In doing so, the UAE bolstered its global position and reinforced investment prospects.”
Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), highlighted that the UAE is experiencing a substantial increase in foreign investments. “The incoming volume of foreign investments has risen from $8.55 billion in 2015 to $20.7 billion in 2021, surpassing global rates, “ he said, adding that the SIF 2023 is a prime opportunity for investors to capitalise on Sharjah’s attractive investment environment and the revival of the business sector.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Juma Al Musharrakh, CEO of Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), stressed on the need to support sustainable and green investment options and prioritise sectors like agriculture, health, and education to drive global economic growth.
During the first session on the opening day of SIF 2023, Shark Tank fame Robert Hardajevic vowed the fully packed audience during the first session of the SIF with an inspiring outlook on the future stressing the importance of human connections and the journey through virtual economy. “The transformation of technology is creating boundless opportunities for profit and growth. However, we need to remember that 52% of companies on the Fortune 500 list in 2000 are no longer in existence today. Firms need to constantly innovate, invest and adapt to new technologies to stay competitive.”
Sheikh Abdullah Al Qasimi and Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Juma Al Musharrakh, CEO of the Sharjah FDI Office, and Omar Swaina Al Suwaidi, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MOIAT), and another MoU with Margaret Fong Shun-man, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).
Sheikh Abdullah Al Qasimi and Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi also honoured SIF’s partners and supporters, including the UAE Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, Invest Bank, Arada Group, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sharjah Economic Development Department, Sharjah Ports, Customs and Free Zones Authority, Osool Real Estate, Sharjah Private Education Authority, Sharjah Sustainable City, Bee’ah Group, National Paints Factories, Emirates Development Bank, American University of Sharjah, Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre and Khaleej Times.
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