In the presence of Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, the forum opens doors to 50 speakers and 1,600 participants
Abdullah bin Touq: The outputs of the forum will enhance the UAE’s efforts in attracting foreign investments to key priority sectors
Ahmed Al Qaseer: We believe that cooperation and responsibility are key to attracting and sustaining investments
Mohammed Al Musharrakh: Sharjah presents a living model of how to create an ideal environment for the future economy.
Sharjah, February 8, 2023
In the presence of His Highness 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 today (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.
His Highness 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,’ HE Abdullah Bin Touq, UAE Cabinet Member and Minister of Economy, said: “Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, 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.”
According to Bin Touq, the UAE recorded unprecedented annual growth rates of 8.5% in 2022, with foreign trade reaching a record of AED 2.2 trillion and non-oil exports growing by 52% to reach AED 366 billion. “The country has also launched Investopia, a global investment company platform, to facilitate partnerships and integrate new trends in the business and economic world. The government's focus on diversifying the national economy and attracting foreign direct investment in sectors such as space, renewable energy, advanced financial technology and artificial intelligence remains a top priority.”
Sharjah's Investment Environment on Spotlight
HE 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.
“The forum aligns with Sharjah's strategies and objectives, to reflect the tremendous opportunities for investors from the region and the world by conveying a realistic picture of the emirate’s recognisable attractive environment. With its well-developed infrastructure of six free zones and 33 industrial zones, and favourable laws, Sharjah is well-positioned for the future of the global economy. The emirate is dedicated to the green economy and circular economy and continues to enhance its productive capabilities in areas such as agriculture, food security, information technology, and artificial intelligence.”
Al Qaseer also remarked that Sharjah prioritises a shared vision and cooperation in achieving the best interests of the society and ensuring responsibility for the future. These principles are crucial in attracting and maintaining investments, and Shurooq takes pride in being part of the integrated system working to support investor experiences, diversify investment opportunities, and meet the needs of investors through the Sharjah Foreign Investment Office (Invest in Sharjah).
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. “The Emirate of Sharjah is a model of a sustainable future economy, with its waste-to-energy city and emphasis on sustainability in its economic sectors, including 35% of the country's factories as well as investing nearly $1.5 billion (AED5.5 billion) annually in education, research, and future skill development. To further enhance its potential, it is critical to forging partnerships with local, regional and global investors to ensure sustainable and qualitative growth.”
Shark Tank juror speaks on Virtual Economy
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.'
Herjavec added that longevity does not guarantee success and continued leadership in the business world. He encouraged the audience to think beyond the present and invest in the future. 'There are no insurmountable obstacles in life. Success is determined by one's ability to adopt new innovations.'
The Shark-Tank star also praised the trailblazing experience of the Emirate of Sharjah, for investing in various key economic sectors, contributing to its growth, even during the economic turmoil brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
His Highness 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).
His Highness 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.
The later discussions on day 1 focused on the future of the green economy, the Sharjah investment ecosystem, and women entrepreneurship in the digital economy. The second day will address deeper subjects like the role of regional efforts in helping scale-up companies, the future of family business and its impact in the region, the entrepreneurial processes in uncertain times, the future of fintech, as well as boosting investment opportunities between Sharjah and Hong Kong.
Through its newly introduced event, the 'Investor Lounge', SIF 2023 is also providing attendees with an ideal opportunity to network and build relationships with international investment influencers, where they can share experiences, information and expertise.