Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, March 9, 2021: Sharjah’s unique investment environment as well as emerging potential in new sectors were topics that dominated the Sharjah–Singapore Investment Webinar discussions organised yesterday (March 8, Monday) by the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), operating 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 HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of Shurooq; HE Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams); Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO, Invest in Sharjah; and Patrick Poon, Cargo Manager, Middle East and Africa, Singapore Airlines. Harbinder Singh, President, Singapore Business Council, moderated the session.
HE Marwan bin Jassim 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 the Sharjah Media City (Shams), HE Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa said: “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.”
He added: “We constantly strive to provide attractive incentives to investors in order to advance Sharjah’s economy and play our part in the economic development of the region. 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, Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah, said: “Sharjah has invaluable investment and business opportunities for our Singaporean counterparts to explore, especially when Sharjah is home to 118 Singaporean companies in Sharjah 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.”
“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.
“Invest in Sharjah’s wide-ranging services include the Sharjah Investors Services Centre (Saeed) – a fully integrated one-window service driven by world-class technology that will enable clients get past all official formalities and acquire their business licences in less than 60 minutes,” he concluded.
On his part, Harbinder Singh, President, Singapore Business Council, said: “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.”
He added: “Today’s event on investment opportunities in Sharjah for Singapore investors provided first-hand information on the numerous opportunities available, and we look forward to working closely with Sharjah to promote it as investment destination of choice for Singapore and Singapore based companies.”
Patrick Poon from Singapore Airlines commended Sharjah’s and SAIF Zone’s services and facilities, which have all eased their national carrier’s entry into MENA and European markets. He was especially appreciative of the government’s incentives and flexible attitude during the critical period of the pandemic.