OBG Event

07 Mar 2017

Sharjah, March 2017: Sharjah’s bid to boost both foreign investment and government finances is explored in a new report just produced by the global research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG).

The Report: Sharjah 2017 examines the key role played by the emirate’s industrial sector as a driver of non-oil growth, supported by the city’s strategic location, strong transport and logistics infrastructure, and welcoming business environment.

It also shines a spotlight on Sharjah’s rich heritage, which has enabled the emirate to carve a niche as a popular destination for visitors with an interest in cultural attractions and take steps to develop other segments offering potential, such as ecotourism.

Sharjah’s education sector is another focus, particularly recent moves to introduce collaborative ventures between education institutions and private sector players to help prepare students for an evolving job market.

The Report: Sharjah 2017 was launched on March 6 at the Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort and Spa during a panel debate attended by VIPs, representatives from the public and private sectors, and the media.

Topics on the agenda included the outlook for Sharjah’s economic development in 2017, opportunities for investors and the impact of VAT against the ‘new regional normal’ backdrop of lower oil prices and budget deficits.

His Excellency Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City Free Zone Authority, Shams, and Hatem Al Mosa, CEO, Sharjah National Oil Corporation, were among the keynote speakers at the event, while Oliver Cornock, OBG’s Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor for the Middle East, moderated the discussion.

The Report: Sharjah 2017 contains a letter from His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council Ruler of Sharjah, together with a detailed, sector-by-sector guide for investors. It also features a wide range of interviews with other high-profile personalities, including: His Excellency Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq); Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq); Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City Free Zone Authority, Shams; Sheikh Khaled bin Abdullah bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman, Department of Seaports and Customs; Khalifa Mohammed Al Kindi, Chairman, Central Bank of the UAE; and Adel Ali, CEO of Air Arabia.

Andrew Jeffreys, OBG’s CEO, said the emirate’s long-term strategies were already proving effective in attracting investment and supporting economic growth, despite the challenging external economic environment.

“Like many other places in the region, Sharjah’s growth prospects will be determined, in part, by future oil prices,” he said. “However, the emirate’s competitive advantages continue to serve it well, while a combination of capital investment from the government and measures aimed at boosting FDI will help to further reduce the importance of hydrocarbons and facilitate Sharjah’s economic development.”

Cornock added that OBG’s new report had highlighted several areas of Sharjah’s economy ripe for growth, including construction and real estate, which, he said, stood to gain from a raft of planned large-scale public and private sector projects.

“Sharjah benefits from a well diversified economy, which has helped it to weather lower global oil prices,” he said. “A sizeable project pipeline and plans to build on the emirate’s strengths in the coming years should support government efforts to increase investment levels and tackle the deficit.”

Echoing Cornock’s comments, Jana Treeck, the Group’s Managing Director for Middle East, said OBG’s much-anticipated report on Sharjah was timely, given the government’s commitment to boosting capital inflows and further expanding the emirate’s economic base.

“These are significant times for Sharjah, with our research pointing to heightened economic activity across targeted sectors of the economy in the coming years,” Treeck said. “I’m delighted that we have been able to provide business leaders eyeing this key regional market with the data and analysis they need to make informed investment decisions.”