The ultimate goal of Emirates Company for Industrial Cities is to operate and manage the industrial park area. What has been your strategy for achieving this goal?
The area of the park is 8 million square meters. Our strategy is to develop a complete range of highly standard infrastructure, and to have it readily available with electricity, roads, water, and IT services. We are offering good prices and promotions while trying to minimize advertisements and publicity costs. We explain to investors about the park's physical proximity to Dubai, the cost, and the location—being humble and helpful so far has given us success.
What do you think the local government will do to attract investors?
The ruler of Sharjah, HH Sheikh Sultan, is a good man. To him, cultural and humanitarian ideas come ahead of business goals. I believe that the local governments in Sharjah need more training, education, and culture to provide professional business practices. They mostly act like government bureaucrats, but they need to adopt more private sector, businesslike practices through the development of local governments that work professionally to serve their communities.
How is your partnership with the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (SHUROOQ)?
SHUROOQ is a new player. It has been around for the past three to four years, and this is a sign that Sharjah has moved from the government sector into the private sector. We have around three major government bodies that affect foreign investments in Sharjah. SHUROOQ is one of them. The planning department, the municipality, and the economic development department are the others. The good thing about Sharjah is that all the government departments are located near each other.
What are the differences between Emirates Industrial City and other zones in Sharjah and the UAE?
These free zones are run by the WTO. The whole world market is opening up. From the licensing point of view, you can have 100% ownership if you set up in a free zone. When it comes to exports to the local market and to the GCC, foreign firms are treated differently, but here they are treated as locals, meaning they can explore the local market and the GCC and enjoy the benefits and advantages of a local kind of company. It is called a free zone, but there are many hidden charges, such as annual or processing fees. There is more flexibility here in this zone compared to the other free zones in terms of the fee structure.
Which type of companies do you expect to set up here?
We are attracting SMEs, and, of course, we have all kinds of industries and services. We have manufacturing, warehousing, logistics, and garages. Due to its geographical proximity to Dubai, people used to move any activities that require space to Sharjah. Sharjah was treated or was used as a backyard for the world economy, in a sense. We had around 18 industrial areas. Poor zoning meant that these industrial areas were sited next to residential zones. Sharjah is now trying to solve all those problems, and this is one of the strategic reasons why Emirates Industrial City was established. We are attracting different industries. Some people are moving here as they have had to relocate due to plans for World Expo 2020.