SHARJAH, UAE — The Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), in collaboration with the Consulate General of India, Dubai, organized a Sharjah–India Business Roundtable today ,17th November 2022, at the House of Wisdom, to explore greater economic ties and synergies between Sharjah and India and expand commercial, industrial and investment cooperation in several high-priority sectors
In line with India’s continued interest in the emirate’s diversified economy and following the game changing UAE-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed in February 2022, the roundtable sought to promote investment opportunities in competitive sectors and highlighted the range of services and facilities offered by various government organizations in the emirate.
With 15,868 Indian companies operating in the mainland in Sharjah and 10,000 across its specialized free zones, the growing economic and commercial relations between Sharjah and India saw the value of exports and re-exports from India rise to AED 1.14 billion in 2021.
Building on the stability and strength of a rapidly diversifying and deepening bilateral relationship between the emirate and India, the roundtable placed a special focus on areas in which Indian companies could engage with Sharjah to grow their presence in the MENA region. The priority sectors highlighted include agriculture and food security, technology and innovation, logistics, tourism and culture, water resource management, energy and renewable energy, and education.
More than 200 trade professionals from the UAE and India including entrepreneurs, investors, Sharjah government officials and business stakeholders attended the Sharjah–India Business Roundtable which also emphasized how the flexible business environment, ease of doing business and diversification away from oil have solidified the emirate’s position as a key investment hub in the region.
New heights in bilateral relations
In his welcome note, Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, Acting CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), said the Sharjah-India Business Roundtable brings the UAE and India closer together, through cooperation and investment opportunities and highlighted how the bilateral trade relations between the two countries are being taken to new heights with the implementation of the CEPA deal since May 2022.
Calling for strengthening partnerships, joint investments and new initiatives in emerging priority sectors, he said: “India is one of the UAE’s largest export destinations and trading partners with bilateral trade turnover of $68.4 billion during 2021. During this period, UAE’s exports to India stood at $43.04 billion while India’s exports to UAE stood at $25.4 billion. Under CEPA, we expect to boost bilateral trade between our nations from $60 plus billion to $100 billion within the next 5 years.”
Extraordinary potential for growth
Delivering a keynote address and elaborating on the shared trade links between India and the UAE through the centuries, Dr. Aman Puri, Consul General of India, Dubai, said: “India and the UAE are two countries that share a deep and historic relationship, the bedrock of which is the strength of its people to people connections developed through centuries-old trade relations.”
Stating that India is the first country with which the UAE has signed the CEPA, he also pointed out that UAE’s investment of $2 billion to develop a series of integrated food parks across India under the framework of the four-nation grouping ‘I2U2’, will not only transform lives of farmers in India but also address global challenges of food security.
He added that many Indian entrepreneurs, unicorns and tech startups looking to the UAE as the springboard for their growth will choose Sharjah for their expansion. “There is extraordinary potential between the two economies, especially in the innovation space where Sharjah has a distinctive advantage,” he added.
Investment potential in Sharjah
A panel discussion held under the theme ‘Investment Opportunities in Sharjah’, outlined the tremendous opportunity and potential in Sharjah’s conducive business environment and emphasized the competitive advantages of growing in Sharjah’s diversified economy, its core strengths in diverse sectors, and easy access to global markets.
Frequently updated regulations, world-class infrastructure, a facilitating ecosystem, and diversification strategies have reinforced Sharjah’s reputation as a global hub for investments, said Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO, Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), adding that Sharjah is currently home to more than 25,000 businesses from India, with 15,868 in the mainland and 10,000 in its specialized free zones.
He revealed that to attract and facilitate investments in Sharjah and the UAE, Invest in Sharjah’s roadshows will focus on Indian markets in 2023.
He added: “I invite Indian companies to come and be part of our new frontier sectors that promise high growth potential. Investors and entrepreneurs can avail the services of the Sharjah Investors Services Center (SAEED) that offers a complete range of government solutions to set up businesses with speed and efficiency.”
Innovative investment environment
“Innovation, knowledge and science are the future of economies and the UAE and India are two countries poised to develop it further,” said Hussein Al Mahmoudi, CEO, Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP).
He added: “Indian investors will find a fantastic innovation ecosystem at SRTIP that includes best in class infrastructure in terms of labs, facilities and services. In close proximity to University City housing 22 universities, investors will have full access to talented human capital and access to technology to meet their diverse innovation needs.”
The unparalleled creative environment, perfect investment climate, cost-effective solutions, and state-of-the-art infrastructure have made Sharjah Media City (Shams) as the first choice for businesses in the creative industries, said Shihab Alhammadi, Managing Director, Shams.
He added: “Designed to address gaps in the freezone sector, Shams was conceived as a hub for creativity and innovation and has since attracted talent and innovative companies from around the world to the emirate.”
Complete ecosystem in Sharjah
Dr. Sunny Kurian MBBS, MD, Founder Chairman of Dr. Sunny Healthcare Group, who first started as a private practitioner in the emirate 30 years ago and has since grown and diversified into multiple sectors, credited the warmth of the people and the “positive buzz and energy” of the emirate for his success. “Adapting and innovating are key drivers of change and what helped me was the conducive environment for growth in Sharjah,” he said.
Discussing how the facilities at Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone propelled one segment of his company’s growth – from 30 employees to 180 in just a span of two months, Dheeraj Aggarwal, Co-Founder and CEO at Altruist Technologies, said: “What Sharjah provides entrepreneurs is a complete ecosystem to grow. Its state-of-the-art infrastructure and ease of doing business is a dream come true for investors.”
He added: “Sharjah is the place to do business especially if it is a human intensive business.”
Presenting a comprehensive overview of the CEPA deal signed between the UAE and Sharjah earlier this year, K. Kalimuthu, Consul (Economic, Trade & Commerce) at the Consulate General of India – Dubai, said the deal came into effect as the UAE is India’s third largest trading partner, second largest export market and eighth largest investor. With $85 billion, India is also a key investor in the UAE and a key export market valued at $30 billion, he added.