The UAE emirate of Sharjah attracted 24 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects worth $220 million (AED 808.6 million) during 2020, as per a Wavteq study on Sharjah’s FDI annual performance.
The Year 2020 was arguably one of the most challenging years in human history. However, the pandemic has revealed 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, a Wam news agency report said.
There has been a 60 percent increase in the number of FDI projects between Q3 and Q4. 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, the study said.
Over the year, Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), the investment promotion office operating under the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), continued to bolster investment activity in Sharjah with a wide range of services and facilities, including a real-time analysis of local markets, which helped incoming businesses identify suitable opportunities. Investor confidence in Sharjah continued to grow in 2020, with 24 new investment projects worth $220 million 2020.
Reflecting on how IIS quickly adapted to the volatility that characterised the year, Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah (IIS), said 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% - 61%, according to a Wavteq’s report. It also states that job opportunities in the medical equipment manufacturing sector increased by 53.4%, and in life sciences by 45.4%, 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% hike in life sciences, 55.6% in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), 49.7% in food and agriculture industries, 46.2% in logistics and distribution, while the cleaning technology industry is expected to grow at a rate of 30.2%. 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.