Sharjah showcases investment potential to US businesses

The fast-growing business opportunities in education, advanced technology and agriculture, among many others, in Sharjah’s expanding investment ecosystem were showcased recently at an interactive business webinar organised by the US-UAE Business Council in association with Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), an affiliate of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), via the Zoom platform.

The webinar introduced investors and businesses from the United States of America to the emerging opportunities in Sharjah across various key and emerging sectors. The audience included potential investors from New York, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh. The event was covered by The Wall Street Journal.

Prominent speakers at the business webinar included Abdalla Shaheen, Consul General of the UAE in New York; Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq);  Hussain Mohamed Al Mahmoudi, CEO, Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation (SRTI) Park; and Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO, Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah). Danny Sebright, President of the US-UAE Business Council, was the moderator.

Thanking the Council for organising the webinar,  Abdalla Shaheen, Consul General of the UAE in New York, said: “Since the early 1990s, the UAE and US have been close friends and strong allies, with shared interests and common values. We work together to promote regional security, economic prosperity and address pressing global challenges. The US exported over $64 billion worth of goods and services to the UAE in 2019. Since 2016, UAE has opened four consulates in the US, in New York, Boston, Houston and Los Angeles. Each consulate aims to make doing business with the UAE as attractive, transparent, and straight forward as possible. Today, each consulate has become a vital driver of a rapidly expanding bilateral relationship in various sectors.

“My team in New York serves the state as well as 15 others across the nation, which collectively represent roughly $8.8 billion in annual trade and over $20 billion in foreign direct investment. We continue to see a lot of interest from US companies looking to partner with the UAE and Sharjah. I trust this webinar will aid them in understanding the business opportunities available in Sharjah and help boost trade relations with the most populous emirate in the UAE,” he added.

Taking centrestage at the webinar, Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, of Shurooq, said Sharjah was looking to promote emerging sectors such as vertical farming and aquaculture, two fields that have been in focus since concerns over food security increased in the wake of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Speaking about new opportunities in Sharjah, Al Sarkal said: “Ninety per cent of the food for domestic consumption is imported. We are trying to remedy that with a focus on agriculture, mainly through vertical farming, aquaponics and aquaculture. There is a huge opportunity for US companies to invest in these nascent sectors.”

He added: “Sharjah is one of the leading emirates in the UAE. We are open for trade, with great infrastructure including airports and seaports, one of the biggest education hubs in the region with several home-grown universities and an industrial backbone focused mostly on small and medium-sized industries. Sharjah attracted a number of major international brands and businesses to base their operations for the first time in the region through the emirate, which says a lot for its infrastructure in logistics and wide range of sectors.” Al Sarkal noted: “Sharjah has also been transforming itself into a modern investment ecosystem by creating free zones that offer specialised focus on key industries such as innovation and technology, publishing and media, among others and this has led to joint ventures and partnerships with international investors for technology transfer in diverse fields. Education is another sector we are promoting – there is potential to open 10 schools and other institutions for which we are open and keen on providing the ideal location.”

Talking about opportunities at SRTI Park Hussain Mohamed Al Mahmoudi said: “We are home to 55 companies across many sectors such as innovation, advanced industry, space, healthcare, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and 3D printing, among others. We are one of the biggest educational hubs in the Middle East and American businessmen are welcome to come to us – we will help your business take off in the region.” Outlining Invest in Sharjah’s role in attracting investors from across the world, Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh said: “Sharjah offers many opportunities across several sectors like healthcare, IT, education, publishing and R&D, manufacturing and logistics, road and transport, tourism and real estate. Currently, 500 US companies operate in Sharjah – 200 onshore and 300 offshore.

Source: Business Bureau, Gulf Today