Shurooq eyes Russian companies to enter regional markets through Sharjah
Comprised of representatives from various government departments and investment agencies, the delegation from Sharjah is taking part in the three-day event as part of the UAE delegation participating under the umbrella of the Ministry of Economy. The Sharjah delegation includes the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Sharjah Economic Development Department, Hamriyah Free Zone Authority, and the Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF-Zone). Sharjah aims through this participation to strengthen cooperation with the Russian business community and open up new avenues to further enhance trade and investment relations between the two countries, especially in light of the impressive development currently being witnessed by the Emirate in various economic sectors. Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, Chief Operating Officer at Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the agency mandated with developing and promoting Emirate's investment sectors, said, "We have made full use of our first participation in Arabia Expo 2013 to showcase Sharjah's business potential as well as varied and unique investment opportunities within the four key investment areas that the Authority has identified as strategic growth areas namely, travel and leisure, renewable energy and the environment, logistics, and healthcare." Shurooq's delegation conducted a series of meetings with Russian based companies and investors as well as other participating delegations to discuss the wide array of business and investment opportunities that Sharjah has to offer, with the aim of expanding cooperation, establishing mutually beneficial joint projects, and attracting investment cooperation. On day one, the delegation met with HE Khojian Khomiakov, Chechen Deputy Prime Minister, who showed great interest in Sharjah's business potential and real investment opportunities in various sectors. Al Qaseer added, "Despite the remarkable increase in trade and investment exchange between the UAE and Russia, trade relations between our two countries has yet to rise to meet the potential and ambitions of both sides, mainly due to a lack of promotion and mutual meetings between the various competent bodies in both countries. Nevertheless, there are good indications for the expansion of bilateral relations further in the best interests of all parties." Shurooq's COO went on to say, "Statistics show a rapid increase in the volume of economic cooperation between the two countries, as trade between Russia and the UAE touched $1 billion in the first quarter of 2013, and is expected to grow further over the upcoming period compared with the previous year." "Regarding Sharjah, the Emirate has recently witnessed the signing of a ground-breaking cooperation agreement between Russian Rosneft Oil Company and UAE's Sharjah-based Crescent Petroleum Company. Also, Gulftainer, the leading logistics company, signed a cooperation agreement with Russian partners, apart from a number of small and medium size projects for Russian investors in Sharjah," Al Qaseer said. He said they were seeking to forge further cooperation agreements in the Emirate's promising sectors, such as tourism, logistics, technology, healthcare, and retail sectors, in which Russia has vast experience, and were calling on Russian companies to enter Middle East and Gulf region's markets through Sharjah. Al Qaseer gave a presentation during the Russian-Emirati Business Forum, which was held on the sidelines of Arabia Expo 2013, in which he defined the most important and promising investment sectors in Sharjah. "The nonstop demand for various experiences and the increase in the number of expatriates and government investments, as well as the rise in income and expenditure, all together contribute significantly to creating new opportunities for foreign investors in various sectors," Al Qaseer noted. "The size of the travel and tourism sector is expected to reach Dh1.49 billion by 2016, while the transport and logistics sector is witnessing a rapid growth due to Sharjah's strategic location as the only hub with direct access to both the Gulf and Indian Ocean, and therefore this sector is expected to reach Dh6.24 billion by 2016," he explained. Al Qaseer added, "The healthcare sector is also among the Emirate's promising sectors where the increasing demand for specialised medical services is contributing to pushing this sector ahead to grow further. The healthcare industry is expected to grow by 9.3 per cent from Dh4.59 billion this year to Dh6.55 billion in 2016." Elie Armaly, Director of Business Development at "Shurooq", said, "Sharjah's strategic geographical location, excellent infrastructure, and investment friendly business environment, makes it an excellent base for Russian companies and investors looking to expand their operations into the Middle East, Europe, and the fast growing markets of Africa and we look forward to welcoming many new Russian ventures to the Emirate in the near future." Armaly emphasised that Shurooq has made the best use of the opportunity afforded by the event programme of Arabia Expo 2013 to familiarise itself with the products and services of Russian producers and get a deeper insight into the needs and requirements of Russian companies and investors interested in doing business in the Middle East and the Gulf region. Business and investment Jasim Al Mutawa, Coordinator of Relations with CIS countries at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, "The exhibition offered us a significant platform to explore avenues of cooperation and possible means of joint action with Russia. The chamber, which has now more than 47,000 members, aims to become the driving force behind sustainable commercial and industrial development of all business activities in Sharjah, and offer opportunities for investors that allow them to grow and compete in legal markets. We seek for Sharjah to become a hub for best practices for clients, a fact that we highlighted at the exhibition." Attractive free zones Raed Bukhatir, Head of Sales at Sharjah International Airport Free Zone, said, "We focused on highlighting SAIF Zone's unprecedented and unmatched package of investment incentives, including 100% foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, 100% import and export tax exemption, 100% exemption from corporate and personal income taxes, as well as its continuous efforts to update and modernise its services, facilities and infrastructure and have them equipped with the latest technology and technological and practical experiences." Ali Al Jarwan, Sales & Marketing Manager at Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA), said, " We seek to create unique and diverse investment opportunities that allow Russian companies to benefit from in setting up world-class investment opportunities Hamriya Free Zone is an ideal base for businesses and economic projects, due to the Emirate's strategic location on the Arabian Gulf, sophisticated infrastructure and modern road networks, apart from the many facilities and investment incentives offered to investors, such as pre-built warehouses and office units as well as opportunities to develop leased lands to suit the different needs of investors." Facilities The delegation of the Sharjah Economic Development Department outlined procedures and facilities offered for investors who want to set up new businesses in the Emirate. Abdulaziz Omar Al Midfa, Deputy Head, Commercial Development & Trade Centre Section at the department, said, "Providing a proper investment environment that encourages investors to choose Sharjah as the best investment destination and a hub to set up their own companies is one of the main strategic objectives of the Economic Development Department. The exhibition provided us an opportunity to enhance relations with Russian investors, and we look forward to establish successful and constructive partnerships with Russian investors." The intensive event programme included a number of high-level forums, meetings and discussions including 'Advanced Cooperation Initiatives in the Areas of Finance and Investment', 'Cooperation in Energy, Oil and Gas, Mineral Resources, and Related Specialized Services', and 'Tourism as one of the Key Areas of Russian-Arab Cooperation'. The second day saw forums on 'Development Of Transport Infrastructure, Transportation, Logistics, and Specialised Transportation Equipment', 'Russia a Promising Market for Arab Agricultural Products, and the Arab World for Russian Grain, Technology, Engineering and Fertilizers', 'Infrastructure Development, Construction, Engineering, Real Estate Development, Construction Materials, and Transportation', and Development of Trade and Economic Relations between Russia and the Arab Countries'. On Saturday, the Arabia Expo 2013's event programme will conclude with two forums, namely 'High Technologies and Innovation in a Wide Range of Areas' and 'Business Women in Russia and the Arab countries', a business dialogue focused on Russia and Lebanon, an the meeting of the Russian-Sudanese Business Council. Shurooq was established in 2009 with the aim of achieving social, cultural, environmental and economic development on the basis of Sharjah's distinct Arab and Islamic identity, and to encourage investment by adopting the best international standards in providing quality services that help attract investors from the region and the world. Shurooq's key mission is to provide facilities and incentives to help overcome obstacles facing investment activities in the Emirate, evaluate tourism and investment related infrastructure projects, and lay down the necessary plans to complete such projects.