Sharjah Plans for a Bold New Future
Second Sharjah Forum to take place on Sunday, January 8 at the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism Project Forum will host international experts and discuss an array of economic initiatives designed to take the emirate forward Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq)’s bold plans to boost the economy of Sharjah will be outlined at the Second Sharjah Forum, which is being held on Sunday, January 8 at Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism destination, kick starting from 9:00am until 3:30pm. Titled ‘The Future of Sharjah,’ the event is being hosted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Sharjah Crown Prince, Deputy Ruler and Chairman of the Executive Council; and is held under the presence of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Shurooq. Taking place at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre - one of Shurooq’s key eco-tourist attractions and a prime example of the authority’s strategy to develop all of Sharjah’s key areas - The Future of Sharjah will see around 150 senior decision-makers gathering to discuss the opportunities and challenges presented in continuing with the emirate’s diversification policy. Among the sectors that will be discussed are four identified as being key to Sharjah’s economic growth; transport and logistics, the environment, tourism, and healthcare. These areas are expected to receive a huge boost following the recent announcement that Sharjah has set its 2017 budget at AED22 billion ($5.99 billion), the largest in the emirate's history. Approximately 30 percent of this figure has been allocated to infrastructure and 41 percent on the economic development sector as the Sharjah government aims to make the emirate more competitive next year. Following on from the first Sharjah Forum, which was held on November 2, 2014, The Future of Sharjah will examine ways to further the creation of an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship that will continue the emirate’s journey towards establishing a sustainable knowledge-based economy. The platform aims to explore potential opportunities and find solution to obstacles identified as hindering growth, thereby facilitating Sharjah’s transition to the next level and enabling the emirate to become a preferred destination for residents, tourists, investors and businesspersons. Delivering the first key note presentation at the forum will be Jared Cohen, Founder of Google Ideas, President of Jigsaw and Chief Advisor to Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Among the issues he will be addressing in his session titled ‘Technology and its Positive Impact’ will be how technology can help transform Sharjah’s economy and how the emergence of digital platforms and online connectivity creates a launch pad for innovation. Giving the forum’s second session titled ‘Inspirational Cities and Innovation’ will be Alec Ross, a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Johns Hopkins University and the author of the New York Times bestseller ‘The Industries of the Future.’ He will be assessing the role that the government, private partners, businesses and stakeholders play in the realisation of smart cities and examining ways to create a culture that embeds innovation. A significant aspect of the day-long programme, which includes an overview of Sharjah’s economic landscape given by PWC, are brainstorming sessions, workshops and group presentations, with the group work designed to get the attending decision-makers to think of ideas and innovative recommendations on specific topics, such as how to enhance the Sharjah brand, how to deliver a better investor journey and how to promote tourism, connectivity and the business environment.