A breathtaking view of Sharjah, a key destination for visitors and investors.
Inayat-Ur-Rahman, Business Editor
Strategically located at the cusp of East and West, and with a coastline each on the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, Sharjah has been a preferred gateway into the region for those looking for shorter access routes from the Far East and South Asia, Australia. and Africa. The emirate is ripe with FDI opportunities in the Mobility & Logistics sector, especially after receiving a legislative boost of 43 percent of its annual 2021 budget being earmarked for developing and improving its infrastructural facilities including roads.
The recent report has highlighted Smart Mobility Solutions including Hyperloop technologies, electric mobility and charging infrastructure; Freight Automation through the adoption of emerging technologies like AI, Robotics; and Cold Chain Facilities that extend the shelf-life of agricultural produce and other perishables, will have the best RoIs with the UAE’s growth projections crossing US$ 30 billion (AED 110 billion) by 2025.
The report forecasts investments in Sharjah’s culture, media and tourism sectors to reach US$ 20.3 billion (Dhs74.5 billion) by 2027, with the emirate transforming itself as a destination of choice for global travellers with multi-billion dollar development projects as well as government support. These projections also take into account the report’s findings on the number of hotel guests received by the emirate in 2019, which grew by 5 percent compared to the previous year. A total revenue of US$ 157 million (Dhs 573 million) was generated through hotel occupancies in 2019, and the sector’s post-Covid-19 recovery has also been fast paced.
The report has also highlighted that the emirate’s stunning natural diversity has captured the imaginations of filmmakers and commercial producers from around the world. Sharjah’s biodiversity and rich local heritage have created unique investment opportunities in ecotourism and adventure tourism across the emirate’s regions and cities, the report further elucidates.
Additionally, world-class business and cultural events organised in the emirate throughout the year are key factors in attracting tourists, which provides great investment opportunities.
The IIS-PwC Middle East report noted that the UAE agricultural product market reached 626 million (Dhs 2.3 billion) in 2019 with a 9.8 percent CAGR of revenue from agricultural products with Sharjah is expected to be a major contributor to the US$ 1.1 billion UAE agricultural market projected for 2024.
The report indicated that the eastern coast of Sharjah has a wealth of investment opportunities to establish aquaculture and seaweed farming facilities, in addition to Aeroponics, Aquaponics, Hydroponics, vertical urban farming, and plant genomics. The report also highlighted opportunities in food processing and packaging especially with the availability of free and industrial zones across the emirate, and the strategic location of Sharjah to facilitate exports to neighbouring and international markets.
The report has also revealed that Sharjah’s potential in Greentech investments is one of the highest in the region, with achievements like earning the title of the first ‘zero landfill city’ of the Middle East as well as a solar park and waste-to-energy plant by Bee’ah which powers nearly 67,000 households.
Accounting for 19 percent of the GCC’s solid waste generation, the UAE holds a myriad of investment opportunities in the clean energy sector. In addition, the growth forecast of the UAE’s Solar Energy Market between 2022 and 2025 is 15 percent.
According to the report, investment opportunities in the sector include Waste Recycling and Waste-to-Energy systems; Clean Energy Generation and Storage to leverage alternative energy renewable sources including solar, hydrogen fuel, biofuels; and Smart Buildings and Green Construction.
With an annual investment of $ 1.5 billion (Dhs 5.5 billion) in education and research, Sharjah boasts a talent-rich ecosystem of world-class universities and leading innovation centres. The Invest in Sharjah FDI trend report also states that opportunities abound for specialised vocational academies and future upskilling and innovation labs that work towards finding cost-effective solutions to complex global challenges.
With an annual growth forecast of 5 percent in UAE’s education sector until 2024, there are several investment opportunities emerging in Early Years Learning and Childcare specialties alongside the expansion of nurseries and K-12 offerings in Sharjah.
In the field of advanced manufacturing, the report revealed that the UAE’s Additive Manufacturing sector is forecasted to reach $599 million (Dhs 2.2 billion) by 2025.
Sharjah, which is home to more than 35 percent of the UAE’s manufacturing industries, also aims to maximise efficiency gains through manufacturing operations automation using advanced technologies such as IoT, Robotics, drones and others, in addition to developing 3D printing capabilities for the manufacture of spare parts and components for industries, enabling these projects to tap into the growing GCC market estimated at $10.3 billion (Dhs37.8 billion) by 2023.