Bal krishen, Special to Khaleej Times Jan 23 2021
Sharjah on Saturday said it attracted foreign direct investment worth Dh 808.6 million ($220 million) last year despite the Covid-19 pandemic due to strong resilience of its economy.
In a statement, Sharjah FDI Office, or popularly known as Invest in Sharjah, the investment promotion office operating under the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), said the emirate became home to 24 new FDI projects, with a 60 per cent increase between the third quarter and fourth quarter of 2020.
While certain sectors were impacted, others witnessed remarkable growth, offering substantial investment opportunities for businesses in the fields of e-commerce, health and medical research, and personal protective equipment, among others. This boost in economic activity in new and emerging sectors led to the creation of 1,117 new jobs in Sharjah, according to Invest in Sharjah.
“The pandemic has disclosed the resilience of cities like Sharjah, which continued to grow amid crisis by allowing global investors leverage opportunities offered by its diverse economy, business-friendly environment and low operating costs, among other competitive advantages,” according to the statement.
Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah (IIS), said that 2020 had, “taught us the competitive advantage of adaptability”, which will continue to inform the manner in which IIS would leverage future investment trends.
“The Covid-19 outbreak caused global foreign direct investment (FDI) to shrink by 21 per cent to 61 per cent,” according to a WAVTEQ’s report. It also states that job opportunities in the medical equipment manufacturing sector increased by 53.4 per cent, and in life sciences by 45.4 per cent, the highest since 2012. Jobs in e-commerce, financial technologies and logistics also grew at a quick pace during 2020,” he added.
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Al Musharrkh remarked that WAVTEQ had forecast an increase in FDI in various vital primary sectors in the next 12 months, predicting a 74 per cent hike in life sciences, 55.6 per cent in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), 49.7 per cent in food and agriculture industries, 46.2 per cent in logistics and distribution, while the cleaning technology industry is expected to grow at a rate of 30.2 per cent.
Secondary sectors, including e-commerce, medical technology, education technology, cybersecurity, financial technology, and smart logistics, is expected to bring high-yield investment opportunities for innovation-driven SMEs.
"Apart from the need to increase investment in future industries, 2020 taught us that we must focus on SMEs, start-ups and emerging innovation-based businesses which are the backbone of social capital and economy and have a direct impact on microeconomic indicators," Al Musharrkh said.
"An analysis of The Global Entrepreneurship Index indicated that countries with high per capita GDP have a higher share of entrepreneurial enterprises," he noted.
"The Sharjah government undertook efforts to improve the investment scenario by creating Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park) in 2016, and the hard work seems to be paying off," Krishen said.
"In fourth quarter, the FDI had sharply increased in emerging areas like e-commerce and health research. To improve the Emirate's attractiveness, Sharjah is also putting a lot of money into social infrastructure and transportation projects. Worth mentioning are the Al-Ittihad Road improvement scheme and Airport expansion project. The recent Federal Government reform enabling 100 per cent foreign investment in non-strategic sectors should provide a further fillip to FDIs," he added.
IIS participated in 14 major local and international events and webinars during 2020, covering a wide range of sectors such as investments in real estate, technology, trade, entrepreneurship, industrial manufacturing, health-tech, agriculture and technology.
The entity kicked off 2020 with the Sharjah – Korea Business Roundtable in February, and subsequently organised 11 virtual discussions throughout the year to explore potential investment opportunities that would leverage markets in the future, in keeping with the UAE government’s efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The ‘Sharjah Economic Ramadan Majlis’ discussed the impact of the UAE stimulus plan on economic stability and growth and how it could mitigate the challenges faced by companies due to the outbreak of the pandemic. IIS also hosted a virtual seminar on the future of agrotechnology and the role of governments in addressing food issues. Another session tackled the topic of keeping pace with change and flexible investment trends.
The IIS office also organised a series of panel discussions and roundtables with a host of international investment leaders and businessmen from South Korea, India, China, USA, Austria, and Italy to explore investment prospects and challenges as well as to share success stories of foreign businesses which have expanded from Sharjah to the regional and global markets.Source: Khaleej times