Sharjah – MENA Herald: The Sharjah Foreign Direct Investment, (Sharjah FDI Forum 2016), held under the generous patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and organised by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), in collaboration with Financial Times and fDi magazine, will highlight the strategic trade relations between the UAE, the UK and mainland Europe.

Taking place on September 28-29, 2016 at Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre, the two-day Sharjah FDI Forum 2016 forms part of Shurooq’s efforts to introduce international investors and industry leaders to Sharjah and to promote the emirate at both local and global forums.

The first day of the forum will host a panel discussion to address the trade ties between the UAE, the UK and Europe in view of economic fluctuations and the challenges of globalisation. Titled ‘Strengthening Trade Ties between the UK, Europe and the UAE,’ the discussion will feature David J Burns, Chairman and CEO, The British Business Group with Courtney Fingar, Editor in Chief, fDi Magazine, Financial Times as the moderator of the first panel discussion.

Throwing light on the region’s opportunities in various sectors that attract European investors and encourage them to first establish and then later expand their businesses, the discussion will touch on the economic impact of the UK’s ‘Brexit’ decision to leave the European Union. It will also explore the factors that have played a significant role in boosting the UAE’s and Sharjah’s stature, making the two entities major destinations for investment, business and industry.

“The UAE has long been recognised as a main financial and trading hub and a gateway to the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Despite a global foreign direct investment lull in 2014, investment in the UAE rose by 25% to reach US$13 billion (AED47.5 billion), reinforcing its position as one of the most stable and business friendly-destinations in the region,” said HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Shurooq.

“The UAE’s story of economic success is the fruit of efforts from its seven emirates, with the emirate of Sharjah having a strong presence on the country’s economic map. In recent years, Sharjah has succeeded in diversifying its economy, becoming a significant economic power in the process. It has strived to achieve further growth in its key economic sectors, notably tourism and leisure, healthcare, eco-development, and transport and logistics,” he added.

“Despite the global financial crisis, Sharjah has managed to maintain high growth rates and has positioned itself as an environment ripe with opportunities for international investors. Businesspersons and entrepreneurs are keen to make the most of its strategic location, its connections with its neighbouring emirates and its economic free zones that are designed to facilitate and integrate business growth,” Al Sarkal emphasised.

“The Sharjah FDI Forum 2016 is an ideal platform that allows us to highlight Sharjah and its unique investment assets and attractions. Sharjah enjoys historical links with the UK and mainland Europe that date back to the 18th century – these serve as an incentive to take our distinguished relations to new and greater heights by enhancing bilateral trade and drawing in more investments,” said Mohammed Al Musharrakh, Director of Sharjah FDI at Shurooq.

Al Musharrakh underlined the need to highlight the importance of Sharjah as an open gateway to world markets that enables European companies to target markets that include South Asia, Australia and India. “The emirate’s sophisticated infrastructure and legislative structure enrich its investment climate with unique advantages that give a further boost to long-term investment,” he added.
“The hosting of major economic forums is important to attract investors and decision makers, as they function as platforms where stakeholders can get to know each other and share their views directly. This enables them to establish business networks, discover mutual interests and explore potential opportunities. The Sharjah FDI Forum 2016 will emphasise that the emirate has become a leading global communication event for industry leaders,” he continued.

Bilateral trade between the UAE and the UK hit a record in 2015 after reaching AED73 billion, with the UAE Ministry of Economy saying that the two countries aspire to double this figure to AED152.7 by 2020. According to the World Investment Report 2015 issued by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the accumulated foreign investments in the UAE rose to $126 billion (AED462.4 billion) by the end of 2015.

The Sharjah FDI Forum has been established to provide an unrivalled opportunity to examine investment outlook in the UAE in general and Sharjah in particular, as well highlight the array of opportunities available across the emirate’s economic sectors. The forum will bring together high level, multi-stakeholder audience comprised of policy-makers, officials, economists and academics.