Opportunities for British investors to invest in Sharjah was the theme of a major business forum held in London, UK, on Friday April 8th 2016.
Organised by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), under the theme ‘Sharjah Day in London, UK,’ the business forum at the Four Seasons Hotel at the capital’s prestigious Park Lane address was held to introduce British investors and businesspersons to the prospective investment landscapes in Sharjah, with a specific focus on sectors which witnessed a sustainable growth year-on-year.
The forum also focused on endorsing Sharjah as a central investment destination for global economies, with diversified sectors that create new business prospects for British investors as well.
Headed by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Shurooq, the authority hosted a day of speeches, presentations, panel discussions tailored to the British audience. Representing the UAE’s presence in the host nation, Abdul Rahman Ghanem Almutaiwee, UAE Ambassador to the UK, Sheikh Mohammed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, Plenipotentiary Minister at the UAE Embassy in the UK, with a following address given by Lord Clement-Jones, Managing Partner of British DLA Piper, a major legal firm that has considerable interests in the UAE, Hamid Dhia Jafar, Chairman of the Board of the Crescent Group, Dr. Afnan Al Shuaiby, Secretary General and Chief Executive, Arab-British Chamber of Commerce, and multiple UAE-based British business leaders and experts.
"The relationship with Sharjah is the oldest relationship that the UK has in the UAE," said Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi during her keynote address at the forum. She also highlighted, "British companies have set up substantial businesses since the 1800s in Sharjah and they have since been part of our journey of development. We support free trade, we have a highly educated workforce, flexible legislation, and most importantly, we have a firm willingness and a clear vision to develop and grow."
During her keynote address, Sheikha Bodour announced the opening of Shurooq’s new office in London to facilitate new investment in Sharjah, with the dedicated operation being established to capitalize on the array of opportunities that the emirate has to offer for investors from the UK.
Shurooq’s new office will form a key plank of Sharjah’s aim to increase UAE-UK economic cooperation, with the relationship between the two entities already strongly established, thanks in part to the high level of reciprocal tourism that has strengthened ties and opened eyes to new opportunities.
On this occasion, she explained, "In recent years, our trade has grown to be in the billions of dirhams. We believe it will keep growing. However, we measure our success as trade partners not only by the financial return on investment, but also by the impact we have on each other in terms of creating employment opportunities, creating innovation platforms, and creating lasting social impact."
Sheikha Bodour concluded, "Our leadership’s strategy is clear and Sharjah’s economic progress must be balanced with respect to our cultural heritage and with social progress. The result is a stable and diversified economy."
Participating at the forum were some of the biggest names in Sharjah’s government and private sectors: Khalid bin Butti Al Hajri, Director General, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Ahmed Al Suwaidi, Head of the Commercial Investment Section, Sharjah Economic Development Department, as well as panelists which included Khaled Al Huraimel, Group CEO of Bee’ah, Hussein Al Mahmoudi, CEO of AUS Enterprises; Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Muhairi, Director of Sharjah Health Authority and Sharjah Healthcare City, Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Deputy Head of Industrial Investment at the Sharjah Economic Development Department, Lalu Samuel, Chairman of Kingston Holding, James Moffatt, CEO of Lamprell plc, and multiple assisting departments from Shurooq such as the Investment Promotions team, PR and Communications team as well as the Corporate communications team.
Sharing the podium was Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Shurooq, who gave an aspirational presentation that told a story about Sharjah and UAE’s historic partnership with the UK.
He explained, "Sharjah’s historic geography has been recognised as one of the most strategic and central engines for the U.K.’s economic growth. It was home to notable British companies success stories that have established their businesses there, and expanded their businesses all across the MENA region. The U.K. played a major role in developing Sharjah’s historic economy and growth long before the formation of the United Arab Emirates."
Al Sarkal continued by outlining some of the major achievements which the UAE-UK relationship established in recent years, he added: " The U.K. is considered the UAE’s second largest trade and non-oil import and export partner, and the UAE-UK trade touching GBP 12 billion. Similarly the UAE has been UK’s strategic access for diversified funds investing more than GBP 5 billion in multiple projects. The results were that today, thanks to our successful and sustainable partnership, there are 7,557 UK companies active in the UAE and more than 35,000 jobs created by these companies."
Al Sarkal also highlighted key sectors which are optimistic for British investors keen on expanding their services and businesses’ demographics: "Based on Sharjah’s increasing development in its sectors in order to capitalize on economic diversification for sustainable investments, we see travel and leisure, environment, transport and logistics and healthcare as the top sectors which British investors can pioneer their services in."
He added, "Our tourism and leisure sector in Sharjah has one of the most promising market potential which is expected to reach GBP 29 million by 2016. This is all the due the rising demand for multiple tourism and leisure experiences currently at play in Sharjah. Additionally we have one of the most renowned ports and free zones in the UAE and the region, which continue to attract new businesses as well as contributed to the success stories of more than 55,000 SMEs. Today, Sharjah is home to more than 380 UK trading companies, more than 780 UK trading agencies and more than 8,000 UK trademarks."