Sharjah highlights potential market sectors for German investors in post-pandemic scenario
Invest in Sharjah showcases emerging opportunities in the emirate across a range of key industries
Sharjah, February 7, 2021
German investors received a crash course in the investment opportunities abounding in Sharjah’s emerging industries at a high-profile business webinar organized recently by the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), which operates under the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).
Highlighting Sharjah’s advantages in providing an impressive growth and expansion platform for German companies in a wide range of sectors, the webinar hosted a number of German businessmen and entrepreneurs who were introduced to the fast-growing business opportunities in the key emerging sectors of E-commerce, Health-tech, Edu-tech, Cybersecurity, Fintech, Smart Logistics, Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence and Cleantech, among many others.
Prominent speakers at the business webinar included UAE Ambassador to Germany H.E Hafsa Abdullah Mohammed Al Ulama; H.E Holger Mahnicke, Consul General of the German Consulate in Dubai; H.E Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of Shurooq; H.E. Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of Sharjah Research Technology and innovation Park (SRTIP); H.E Dr. Abdulaziz Al Muhairi, Director General of Sharjah Health Authority; Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah); Abdulaziz Shattaf, Assistant Director General of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Ammar Alul, Managing Director, Schüco Middle East Windows & Facade Systems LLC. The session was moderated by Oliver Oehms, CEO of German Emirati Joint Council for Industry and Commerce (AHK).
H.E Hafsa Abdullah Mohammed Al Ulama kickstarted the virtual seminar observing the nation’s strong relations with Germany in all fields, especially in economy. “The UAE is not only the No.1 trade partner for Germany in the Arab world, we also have converging visions when it comes to doing business. Just a few weeks back, Mubadala signed a deal with Siemens Energy to accelerate green hydrogen capabilities in Abu Dhabi. Innovation, climate change and sustainability are all areas which both nations are focused on. So, convergence of interests in these areas will not only be beneficial for both countries, but also to the world at large.”
“Sharjah occupies a very special place in the UAE. It is not only the centre of heritage and culture, but also occupies a unique position, accessible from both the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, has a very active economy fueled by many freezones and logistics and amazing tourism initiatives. Argi-tech holds a lot of business potential. We at the UAE Embassy in Berlin are willing to help German investors looking to invest in Sharjah, and help connect and facilitate partnerships with their UAE counterparts.”
In his keynote address, H.E Holger Mahnicke, said: “We in Germany tend to associate Sharjah with cultural relations, not the least because of SAWA Museum Academy, a joint initiative with the Sharjah Museum’s Authority. However, our relationship encompasses many other spheres. There is a longstanding cooperation between the University of Sharjah and the University of Lubeck in the field of medical education. We can scale up the cooperation in the area of healthcare and service which might offer investment opportunities. There are certainly many more areas of potential.”
Welcoming delegates to the virtual roundtable, H.E. Marwan bin Jasim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), emphasised that Germany was UAE’s fourth largest non-oil trading partner, with a trade volume of AED 44.7 billion up to June 2020, stating that the UAE hosts over 900 German companies across a range of sectors, of which more than 346 operate from Sharjah.
He said: “Sharjah is looking at the future, vigorously stepping-up efforts post-COVID to drive investments in innovations in the health sector and areas related to agri-tech, IoT, renewable energy, smart city solutions, and sustainable construction. I must mention the International Concrete Conference & Exhibition in the Middle East (ICCX), which is held in Sharjah, which promotes German technology in the construction field. Sharjah’s economy is based on small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and we offer a nurturing environment for startups centred on innovation solutions in the areas of Fintech, Edtech and digital media.”
The Shurooq Executive Chairman added: “In the past decade, Sharjah’s already diverse freezone offerings have increased incrementally, making it easier for investors in all sectors to set up business in the emirate. With its strategic geographic position, Sharjah is also recognised as regional gateway to a billion plus consumer audience in the emerging markets of Africa and Asia. Our specialised free zones, such as the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI), for example, is a vital resource for German investors and tech-firms to explore and expand on their ideas and products in one of the most flexible markets in the region.”
“I am certain that Sharjah’s increased emphasis on R&D and tech capabilities will enable German tech firms to tap into the limitless potential of the emirate’s growing knowledge economy. I would like to emphasise once again that Sharjah is open for business; and Shurooq is open for new partnerships,” he concluded.
Stating that Sharjah’s FDI sector had expanded in 2020 with 24 new projects worth AED808.6 million, recording a 60% increase between Q3 and Q4 and creating 1,117 new jobs, Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), said that the government stimulus package of AED 1 billion for investors to tide over the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the economy, deference and reduction of fees including licenses had gone a long way to create a positive environment for businesses in the emirate, with Invest in Sharjah assisting investors access the stimulus benefits.
Pointing out Sharjah’s competitive advantages, he noted: “Sharjah’s six specialised free zones provide personalised services tailored to the needs of various sectors, catering to investors locally and globally. Sharjah is already home to 346 successful German companies including Lufthansa and Wallenborn Transports Group. At Invest in Sharjah, we prioritise the interests of every investor, connecting them with a wide range of government to facilitate their investments across a wide range of industries.”
Speaking about SRTIP’s progress over the years, H.E. Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTIP, said, “The biggest development for SRTI Park has been our new headquarters which hosts more than 100 companies. Our facilities include one of the largest transport and logistics innovation centres in the world which is working on a transformational project worth more than AED300 million, developing a revolutionary range of trains which will be introduced in the international markets soon.”
He added: “We are also proud of our 4th Industrial Revolution Centre that has led in the establishment of one of the largest additive manufacturing companies. Our 3D Print Gallery, which is one of the largest galleries specialised in this technology in the Middle East, prints in three mediums – metal, plastics and concrete. We also host one of the largest R&D centres for agritech. We have a strong footprint in AI and a German company based in the park, AI Directions, leads in the field. We have signed an MoU with the Emirates Development Bank to provide capital to MSMEs.”
H.E Dr. Abdulaziz Al Muhairi, Director General of Sharjah Health Authority, said: “The future of healthcare lies in developing preventive technology. The field offers great opportunities for investors and innovators, and Sharjah Healthcare City welcomes R&D centres, laboratories, hospitals and rehabilitation centres to set shop and grow in the right environment. We offer tax free 100 percent ownership, single-window access and full repatriation of profits. According to latest reports, a 10 percent growth has been predicted for the sector in the UAE in the next two to four years.”
For his part, Abdulaziz Shattaf, Assistant Director General of SCCI, said: “The bilateral trade between UAE and Germany in 2018 amounted to more than $14 billion. This indicates the strong ties between both countries. At SCCI, we facilitate communication between businesses in both countries through seminars, webinars and delegation visits, and help strengthen ties for more strategic future cooperation.”
Describing his experience of operating a company in Sharjah, Ammar Alul, Managing Director, Schüco Middle East Windows & Facade Systems LLC, said: “I am happy to announce that despite the pandemic, last year Schuco increased its market share, expanded and recruited more staff due to the very conducive business environment in Sharjah. The efficiency of government services, infrastructure, ease of doing business and the strong talent pool, make the UAE in general and Sharjah in particular, the ideal location to base our business.”
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During the Sharjah – Germany business webinar organized recently by the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah)