Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah) is the investment promotion agency of the Emirate of Sharjah, launched by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) in 2016. Driving the continued transformation and economic diversification of the emirate by attracting diverse, long-term and high-yielding investments from across the world, invest in Sharjah has done a tremendous job of ramping up national and regional FDI performance and growth.
These efforts have been hailed by reputed global institutions such as the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies, which nominated Invest in Sharjah to assume MENA’s regional directorship at WAIPA for a two-year term, until 2021. The entity also made waves in the international press, with International Finance, a premium UK-based business and finance magazine naming it the ‘Best FDI Agency 2019 – UAE’.
Naturally, Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah, is very upbeat about Invest in Sharjah’s prospects. He said: “Sharjah is booming with opportunities across several sectors like manufacturing and logistics, road and transport, real estate, healthcare, IT, education, publishing and R&D, that are of interest to global investors.”
“Through our strategic networking efforts and global road shows over the past four years, we have increased investor awareness about the competitive business advantages and economic benefits investors can avail right off the bat as they enter our markets. The emirate’s robust network of free zones - home to 12,675 companies - all offer tax exemptions, full profit repatriation, simplified licensing procedures and fast-tracked business registration processes. An additional 61,200 entities registered with the Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD), have contributed to the overall industrial development of the UAE, generating job opportunities not just here but also in their countries of origin,” he added.
Economic diversification ‘in action’ across Sharjah’s six specialised free zones
Sharjah’s vision to attract diverse and responsible FDI includes being realised by six specialised free zones, where every business belonging to almost any market sector will have an opportunity to grow not just locally, but also pursue regional expansion from Sharjah. In Sharjah Media City, enterprises in the media, creative and innovation industries, will flourish; while in Sharjah Publishing City, a sprawling 40,000 sqm business town, publishing, printing and allied businesses will have exclusive rights to operate. Then there is the Sharjah Healthcare City which hosts not only hospitals, clinics and wellness centres, but also healthcare-related warehousing, equipment, light assembly plants, and retail and accommodation facilities across 2.4 million square-metres; and Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (STRIP),a unique meeting point for government, industry and academia mandated to manage Sharjah’s innovation and R&D ecosystem.
These relatively new free zones complement the Hamriyah Free Zone and Sharjah Airport International Free Zone, established in 1995 with a focus on industry.
60-minute business setup with Invest In Sharjah’s one-window service, Saeed
Since Invest in Sharjah announced the launch of the Sharjah Investors Services Centre (Saeed) last November. This one-window consultative and business licencing service has already benefited 1,500 clients, mostly in real estate and e-commerce.
The single-window facility offers every service a new-comer in the UAE market requires – all in 60 minutes. From attestation of commercial and residential tenancy contracts; membership registration at Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI); facilitation of utility services as well as payment of bills; to issuance and renewal of commercial licenses, entry permits. Additionally, all services under the Federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship; issuing and renewal of all types of trade licenses; legal and tax consultancy services, including maintenance of records related to tax transactions and preparing and submitting VAT returns are also on offer under one roof at Saeed.
Promoting green economy culture
Sharjah has made it a strategic goal to build an innovative, inclusive and resilient economy by attracting foreign investments that promote the emirate’s green growth principles, which aim to raise standards of living while ensuring environmental sustainability.
Projects like the US $544m Sharjah Sustainable City, the emirate’s first-ever net zero energy mega project in partnership with Diamond Developers have opened brand new FDI avenues, and reflects Sharjah’s commitment to the establishment of world-class infrastructure that promotes environment-friendly and sustainable living.
Sustainable tourism is another key element of Sharjah’s diversification programme, with the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority’s Vision 2021 initiative aiming to attract 10 million visitors by 2021. The strategy, launched in 2015, seeks to build the emirate into a top regional destination for family tourism by investing in a range of ecotourism and cultural attractions.
The initiative has contributed to a rise in both public and private investment in the sector with a portfolio of completed and ongoing projects worth US $ 2.06 billion. Sharjah aims to achieve the perfect harmony between luxury and culture in developing current and upcoming cultural and eco-tourism projects which offer unique investment opportunities.
Giving investors a clear edge
“Sharjah’s economic programme is focused on developing into a vibrantly diversified ‘knowledge economy’,” said Mr Al Musharrkh. “We have been investing consistently in education, research, and healthcare sectors to boost local human capital and offer the kind of infrastructure international businesses will need to continue developing in the long term. Sharjah’s comprehensive strategy is also opening out new and emerging markets such as ecotourism or net zero energy communities as viable options for investors. In short, we have what it takes, and would like to reiterate, Sharjah is open for business!” he added.