The Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah) organised the first Sharjah-Sweden Business Roundtable on Tuesday, exploring interests with Swedish business powerhouses, and to introduce emerging prospects in a variety of sectors attractive to Swedish investors.
Among the sectors highlighted were logistics, environment, technology and innovation, healthcare, education and research, start-ups, SMEs – each of which have been playing increasingly important roles in enriching Sharjah’s FDI appeal.
The roundtable’s prominent attendees included Henrik Landerholm, Swedish Ambassador to the UAE; Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq); Masoud Beyouki, Commercial Attaché at Swedish Embassy; and Mohammed Juma Al Musharrakh, CEO of Sharjah FDI Office.
The event also saw the participation of Khaled Al Huraimel, Group CEO Bee’ah; Ahmed Al Halyan, Director of Business Development the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park; Mr. Emerson Buarque, General Manager of Business Development at Gulftainer; and Saeed Al Nofeli, Venture Creation Manager at Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa), who shared local business expertise and shed light on the new and emerging prospects in their respective sectors to the Swedish delegation.
Welcome remarks were shared by Henrik Landerholm, Swedish Ambassador to the UAE, who said: “Today’s roundtable reaffirms the historic UAE Sweden bilateral relations, and provides unique investment opportunities to 20 participating Swedish businesses, who operate across a number of sectors and who have strong interest in exploring Sharjah’s market.”
He added: “Over the last 100 years, Sweden has invested and grown substantially in the fields of technology, engineering, healthcare and education, with 3.3% of its GDP is allocated towards its research and development sector. We see these opportunities as common goals and values between ourselves and the emirate of Sharjah, and reaffirm the importance of developing our bilateral relations with Sharjah.”
In his speech, Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, noted the importance and the purpose of the roundtable, saying: “Be it our mainland, industrial sector or vibrant free zone ecosystem, there are many investment opportunities we would like the business community in Sweden to know about, and feel that they are part of what is happening here in Sharjah. We are a historic emirate, which used to be UAE’s trading hub, and many developments continue to happen in Sharjah.”
He continued: “More than 94 Swedish companies – large, medium and small scale – operate in our emirate’s diversified economy. We are proud to have companies like Gulf Rock Engineering, SSAB Swedish Steel and several others. Sharjah is a hub that connects businesses to the world, and we are so proud that we have companies who are based here and growing successfully.”
He noted: “The event today was held to connect Swedish businesses to opportunities available in Sharjah. Sharjah’s industrial sector needs no introduction, and we have grown to become a hub for successfully supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups, who have grown to become international players. We have the likes of Gulftainer, a company that started here, and today is managing seaports all the way to Russia and America. So, we are very proud to see this kind of exponential growth for companies, which establish in Sharjah.”
Al Sarkal highlighted that the competitive advantages of the emirate including low operational costs and business-friendly environment are key to the success of foreign players, saying His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council Ruler of Sharjah, really focuses on ensuring that all entities have a fair way of doing business in the emirate.
Masoud Beyouki, Commercial Attaché at Swedish Embassy, reaffirmed that Sharjah is one the region’s most favoured investment destinations, and a key access point for expansion and development to new markets, especially when it is among the top 26 priority markets in Sweden’s Export Strategy.
He also said: “It was a very pleasant surprise to learn that the focus industries of the Sharjah business community very closely match that of the Swedish business community, and I strongly believe this will be the first of many similar engagements, in which establish a closer bond between Sharjah and Sweden, with the aim of boosting trade, increasing collaboration and jointly driving growth.”
On his part, Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of Sharjah FDI Office, outlined Sharjah’s key competitive advantages and benefits that continue to provide quality service to investors worldwide.
He explained: “Sharjah enjoys one of the strongest and most sustainable economic infrastructure, and a highly competitive logistics market thanks to 3 strategically located seaports covering both ends of the UAE, the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, in addition to specialised free zones who deliver personalised services to businesses looking to operate in healthcare, multimedia, publishing, trade, technology and logistics.”
He added: “Our free zones continue to create stronger impacts within our business framework, providing tax-free services and efficient business set-up services, supported by an integrated network of government authorities in Sharjah.”
He noted: “As a result of these benefits, Sharjah achieved a total of USD 1.6bn in FDI in 2017, with the total number of SMEs reaching to more than 55,200. Forecasts on our economy continue to provide a positive outlook, with a total of 2% in average economic growth is projected for Sharjah until 2021.”