SHARJAH - Sharjah has secured a distinct economic and investment reputation, emerging as a key engine of growth and an attractive economic destination not only in the UAE, but in the region as a whole.

The emirate today hosts more than 16 percent of the total small and medium enterprises in the country, exceeding 45,000 in number, said Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).

She made these remarks ahead of the 2nd Sharjah FDI Forum, titled "Sharjah FDI: The Gateway to the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia," on 28th and 29th September, 2016, in Sharjah.

The forum is aimed at showcasing the unique economic advantage and strength of the emirate of Sharjah, highlighting the attractive investment opportunities offered by Sharjah in various vital sectors, including tourism, leisure, environmental development, healthcare, transportation and logistics, Sheikha Bodour said.

"Sharjah's economy is based on diversity and balance. No sector in the emirate contributes to more than 20 percent of the GDP, which ensures greater economic stability and dramatically lowers risk factors," she stressed.

"Sharjah has not only developed its existing traditional sectors, but has also launched new sectors that never existed before in the region, such as environmental development, in which it has proven its excellence in no time. Moreover, the emirate has launched new, specialised sectors within traditional ones, including eco-tourism, which is another sector that was first introduced in the region by Sharjah," she added.

"Today, the UAE enjoys a prominent place on the map of international investment and has come to top other Arab countries in attracting foreign direct investment within a relatively short period of time. During the last year alone, the country attracted nearly $11 billion (about AED40 billion) worth of foreign direct investments, which accounted for 46 per cent of the total attracted by all GCC countries combined," Sheikha Bodour said underlining the importance of the forum for the UAE and Sharjah.

This shows the success of the wise leadership's vision to diversify the economy away from oil, as well as the success of the investment incentives offered by the country to attract international investors, she added.

Underscoring the strategic relevance of the forum, the chairperson of Shurooq said that the event comes at a critical point in the country's and the region's history.

The forum will see the participation of more than 300 top experts, economists and policy makers who would confront and debate the key opportunities and challenges offered by Sharjah, the UAE and the region at large, she said.

"This edition has acquired increasing importance due to the rapid economic changes experienced by the world today, including the decline in growth forecasts for many countries, low prices of oil and basic food commodities, fluctuations in interest rates and falling bond yields, not to mention the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. These changes need to be considered by investors who are looking to discover global economic trends to make sound investment decisions," she said in conclusion.

The forum is being supported by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, in association with the Financial Times newspaper and fDi Magazine. The forum is the largest global foreign direct investment (FDI) event in the Middle East and North Africa.

Source: Emirates News Agency