SHARJAH,- Participants at the Sharjah Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Forum 2016, on Wednesday evening, discussed the challenges faced by the global economy that prompted the decision-makers to diversify sources of national income.

They unanimously agreed during the session titled "Beyond Oil - Benefitting from Investment Opportunities in the UAE," that the knowledge economies represent "new oil."

They stressed that the UAE has introduced to the world a unique economic experience through which skilled human resources and technology were harnessed to double the economic growth and reduce the dependence on oil.

The participants also agreed that the UAE is an ideal centre for business in the region, praising the policies pursued by the country to diversify sources of national income by relying on innovation and supporting young entrepreneurs.

They stressed that the post-oil era requires taking into account many things, most importantly, the ability to cope and adapt to the new economic order as well as the need to support young entrepreneurs and investment in human capital, creation of more opportunities for the establishment of more small and medium enterprises, and rely extensively on innovation and creativity.

The second session titled, "Harnessing the Potential of Investment in the Transport and Logistics Sector in the UAE to meet the Growing Demand for Commercial Activities," highlighted the role of the free zones and advanced infrastructure including air and sea ports provided by the state in strengthening the position of the UAE as a leading global air shipment, and even expected to become the largest globally soon.

Saud Salem Al Mazrouei, director of the Free Zone of Sharjah International Airport and Hamriyah Free Zone Authority and a number of corporate managers attended the session.

Al Mazrouei demonstrated Al Hamriya Free Zone experience, explaining that during the past two years the free zone encouraged logistics companies that have become sources of the most basic services to various sectors of the free zone.

He emphasised that the UAE despite the drop in oil prices has been able to build a network of roads and bridges, and has not so far cancelled any infrastructure projects. This kind of economic stagnation is a blessing in disguise because the building materials prices dropped, he added.

While stating e-commerce will boom, Al Mazrouei said that the platform for e-commerce will be launched soon at the free zones in Al Hamriyah and Sharjah.

The transit trade from China to the UAE accounted to about 70 percent to 80 percent of the total country's imports from China, he added. For example, of every five shipments entering the free zone, four are re-exported to other countries.

The participants concluded that the largest air cargo centre in the world will be in the UAE in the future due to its strategic position between the continents of the world. It also enjoys the infrastructure that is supportive to the shipping and transportation sectors, they said.

The UAE government projects focus on infrastructure, which has contributed effectively to opening investments in this sector, the participants said.

Source: Emirates News Agency