July 3, 2020

Moving Forward with Shurooq

A New Business Frontier for EU Investors in Sharjah

By HE Mr Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of Sharjah Investment & Development Authority (Shurooq) .

With a forecast of 2% y-o-y economic growth until 2021, and a positive short and long-term economic outlook, Sharjah remains among the top Gulf and MENA destinations for global investors, and among the top destinations for mega-retail, tourism and real-estate projects in the region.

Among the key international investors and partners to the emirate of Sharjah, are EU nations, who have historically taken the initiative of accessing MENA and wider Asian markets through the emirate. One of the key drivers and contributors to this economic growth, the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), who has spent over the last 10 years redefining a large portion of the emirate’s investment infrastructure.

Shurooq has also been a key player in successfully diversifying assets and strategies that further boosted the emirate’s global economic profile, as well as played a key role in the moderation of the emirate’s economic stability through diversification of investments and tourism projects.

“Today, we are proud for successfully developing and managing over 15 globally leading tourism projects, over 4 unique hospitality projects, and over 7 strategic JVs for mega real-estate and retail projects with a total net-worth of more than EUR 80 million. These achievements have helped secure a portfolio of completed and ongoing projects worth EUR 1.8 billion in Sharjah, extending across a total area of 11.74 million square metres,” said His Excellency Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of Shurooq.

He continued: “Sharjah has historically enjoyed one of the leading business models, set out by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council Ruler of Sharjah; through his vision, Sharjah is one of the world’s most significant economies built on the pillars of knowledge, innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability.”

Al Sarkal explained: “This model, reinforced with a robust economic infrastructure and regulations that attracted millions in FDI over the last decade, allowed us at Shurooq to develop a number of specialised sectors redefining Sharjah’s economic diversification.”

In September 2016, Shurooq unveiled the establishment of the emirate’s first investment promotion agency, the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), during the second edition of the prestigious international business forum, the Sharjah FDI Forum, under the presence of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah.

Shurooq Executive Chairman noted: “Since the formation of Invest in Sharjah, the new office worked closely on strengthening relations through specialised business roundtables with investors from Germany, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Russia, as well as holding a number of high-level meetings with delegations from different regions such as Finland, Sweden and nations from Eastern Europe.”

“Diversification was always the primal solution to fully understand and grasp Sharjah’s unique and flexible economy. The emirate has been a key aviation link between Europe and the rest of the MENA and Asian regions since 1932, and a rich history in developing the Gulf Region’s economy, long before the official UAE union even took place. For us, Invest in Sharjah was the best way forward in order to service and accommodate the endless possibilities and business prospects with our partners in the EU and across the world, and as part of our achievements we are proud to receive Invest in Sharjah recent award from Sharjah Government Communication; as the Best Government Communication Campaign outside UAE” added Al Sarkal.

Destinations and Mega-projects in Sharjah

The emirate’s investment and development authority has broken down its diversification initiatives to entertainment and leisure tourism destinations, eco-tourism destinations and cultural and authentic tourism destinations.

Destinations such as Al Qasba, Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Montazah Parks and the Flag Island are among the authority’s leading leisure tourism projects. Attracting hundreds of family-friendly events, festivals and celebrations year on year, these destinations have become the emirate’s key landmarks, offering a wide range of entertainment and culinary experiences. 

Shurooq has also played a leading role in developing the cultural and eco-tourism profile of Sharjah and the UAE. With destinations such as the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism Project, the Kalba Eco-tourism project, these projects have been key enablers in giving Sharjah a lead positioning for creating the most authentic and cultural tourism experiences in the UAE. 

His Excellency Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal said: “Our mission and vision has always been to support the development and promotion of Sharjah’s unique cultural state, and each destination has its own set of stories and experiences which reflect on the historic and heritage tales of the emirate’s eastern, central and western regions.”

He added: “Our objective is to look after the careful restoration and preservation of some of these regions, and to adhere to the emirate’s environmental sustainability, as well as UNGA’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).”

Moving Forward with EU

Sharjah’s economy continues to witness large-scale demands from a number of local and international investors, paving the way for new investment prospects across the environmental, healthcare, tourism, logistics, real estate, education and light manufacturing sectors.

Leading the realm of strengthening partnerships with specialised investment and trade firms in Europe, Invest in Sharjah has led and taken part in a number of high-profile delegations from the emirate of Sharjah, partnering with a number of the emirate’s state entities, as well as the UAE Ministry of Economy, announcing new JVs and conducting business seminars with a number of European nations.

Al Sarkal explained: “Over the next few years, we are expecting the complete development of one of the region’s most unique environmental sustainability cities in Sharjah. Furthermore, our joint-venture with Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills, resulting with the official launch of Eagle Hills Sharjah and three high-end real-estate projects – Maryam Island, Al Khan Palace and Kalba Waterfront, are redefining living standards and lifestyles in Sharjah, merging cultural constructs and modern designs as a first of its kind the region.”

He highlighted: “Our existing healthcare and education sector are also among the leading sectors in Sharjah, witnessing large-scale developments, expansion phases and new business prospects. We recently inked a new JV with one of the leading investment firms in South Korea, REI Holding, paving the way for UAE’s first of its kind hospital specialising in open-heart surgeries. Most recently, the Sharjah Healthcare Authority and Gruppo San Donato inked a new agreement, allowing more than 16,800 staff members from the Italian based corporation to facilitate firms and set up businesses in the Sharjah Healthcare City, which is the emirate’s first project operating under the “free zone” benefits.”

He concluded: “The current state of the European economy is embarking on a more opportunistic forecast as states and nations bid to develop the region’s economic sustainability and stability, slash unemployment rates, and transform uncertainties and pessimism in the global economy to opportunities that help them diversify assets and funds across a wide range of services and sectors.”

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