WHAT A YEAR
Sharjah's industry-based economy has kept it well shielded from the effects of low oil prices, with a growing tourism sector another strong investment pull.
Sharjah, one of seven Emirates in the UAE, is the picture of economic health. Representing nearly one-third of the country's manufacturing sector, the Emirate has carved out a lucrative niche for itself as both an industrial and cultural hub. In terms of the breakdown, Standard & Poor's highlights that the real estate and business services sector constitutes 22% of GDP, manufacturing 17%, wholesale and retail trade 12%, and mining, quarrying, and energy 12%. Tied up so closely with its surrounding Emirates, however, means it is exposed, even if indirectly, to price fluctuations in the oil market. Not all external factors are negative, however, with large upcoming events such as Expo 2020 in Dubai, and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, offering up possibilities for the service, retail, and real estate sectors.
To keep the engine ticking, Sharjah's government upped spending by 2% in its 2016 budget, bringing overall expenditures to roughly AED20.3 billion (USD5.5 billion). The 2016 budget will again allocate 46% of expenditures toward economic development programs aimed at spurring sustainable growth.
As the old saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was Sharjah's industrial complex. According to the Sharjah Economic Development Department, industrial facilities averaged annual growth rates of 8% over the last 10 years, thanks in some part to the Emirate's strategic location near the Strait of Hormuz. Going forward, the Industrial Affairs Department believes that the industrial sector will represent as much as 25% of GDP by 2025. Much of the industrial activity in Sharjah is based in the Hamriyah Free Zone (HFZ) and the Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF Zone). Both offer top-quality infrastructure and generous investment incentives. In 2016, SAIF Zone welcomed a host of new operations, including two new specialized factories being built by British firm Advanced Armour Engineering, a tin can factory being built by Delta Food Industries and Anand Tin Containers, and an assembly plant for rotary pumps constructed by the American firm Stanadyne, to name but a few. Looking again into the future, eyes are now on Al Saja'a Industrial Oasis, which Sharjah Asset Management (SAM) began working on in late 2015. The new industrial park is expected to create up to 20,000 jobs, according to the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority. In mid 2016, the second stage of construction was launched, making 114 plots, ranging from 14,000 sqft to 112,000 sqft, available for bidding. The Sharjah Investment Center (SIC), a mixed-use industrial area developed as a joint venture between UAE and Saudi investors, is also set to open its doors. At 32 million sqft, the SIC is an ambitious AED2 billion investment in Sharjah's manufacturing base, with 80% of plots prepared in the first two phases already sold, providing an indication of the popularity of Sharjah as an industrial hub.
By far the most exciting facet of this Emirate's economy, however, is its tourism sector. Sharjah styles itself as a true Islamic experience, having maintained many of its cultural assets despite explosive growth over recent decades. Shurooq, Sharjah's investment authority, predicts that the sector could grow in value to nearly AED2 billion by 2020, up from AED1.44 billion in 2015 and a predicted AED1.5 billion for 2016. To cope with the demand, Shurooq predicts that 5,800 more rooms will be needed by 2020. Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021 is the guiding literature on future growth, and it targets 10 million visitors by that year, when the UAE marks its 50th anniversary. In 1H2016, hotel occupancy rates hit 62%, with 878,006 guests spending nearly 2 million nights in Sharjah. This is partly thanks to efforts by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), including the “Sharjah My Family Destination" campaign, which introduced family-friendly tourism offerings and packages, as well as the promotion of hotels and leisure destinations. SCTDA is also keen to broaden the Emirate's MICE tourism offering, with education, healthcare, and diplomacy identified as target areas. Sport is also firmly on the roadmap, with golf, shooting, and cricket, which was introduced to the Emirate back in the 1970s, especially popular in the Emirate. As of 2016, Sharjah also holds the Guinness World Record for hosting the most one-day cricket internationals, at 224, ahead of Australia on 167.
Modern-day Sharjah would be almost unrecognizable to its inhabitants half a century ago, having undergone a profound transformation under the leadership of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. In 2016, the Emirate is a regional finance and manufacturing powerhouse, a center of Islamic history and learning, and an important regional partner.
WHAT A YEAR
TABLE OF CONTENTS
HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Federal Supreme Council and Ruler, Sharjah
HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Federal Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, has been an inspiring leader of the Emirate since 1972, carefully watching over its development into the cultural capital of the Islamic world.read article
Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman, Department of Government Relations
TBY talks to Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations, on his department's role in coordinating the delivery of information to key stakeholders and the important part it plays in cultivating sustainable development.read article
HE Sultan Abdullah Bin Hadda Al Suwaidi, Chairman , Sharjah Economic Development Department
TBY talks to HE Sultan Abdullah Bin Hadda Al Suwaidi, Chairman of Sharjah Economic Development Department, on the resilience of Sharjah's economy and building on its well-diversified foundations.read article
HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman, Sharjah Media Corporation
TBY talks to HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Media Corporation & Chairman of Sharjah Media Centre, on competitiveness in the sector, its influence on the other Emirates, and expectations for the future.read article
HE Waleed Al Sayegh, Director General , Sharjah's Finance Departmen
TBY talks to HE Waleed Al Sayegh, Director General of Sharjah's Finance Department & CEO of Sharjah Asset Management, on fiscal policy direction and initiatives being introduced to increase efficiency and transparency from the top down.read article
Dr. Rashid Al Leem, Chairman , Sharjah Energy and Water Authority (SEWA)
TBY talks to Dr. Rashid Al Leem, Chairman of Sharjah Energy and Water Authority (SEWA), on the challenges facing the Emirate's plan to reach 30% water re-use by 2020, and changing the attitudes through education.read article
Mohammed N. Al Hazzaa, Director General , Emirates Company for Industrial Cities (ECIC),
TBY talks to Mohammed N. Al Hazzaa, Director General of Emirates Company for Industrial Cities (ECIC), on the company's performance, government support of the private sector, and forecasting occupancy trends.read article
Focus: Reducing water and power consumption
Under Dr. Rashid Al Leem's stewardship, Sharjah is aiming to become the first City of Conservation. This principally encompasses supplying electricity and water through sustainable avenues with technological efficiency while raising awareness of sustainability practices.read article
Ted Young, Project Head, Al Zahia Communities Business Unit at Majid Al Futtaim Properties
TBY talks to Ted Young, Project Head of the Al Zahia Communities Business Unit at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, on the reasons behind the market's resilience and the future of housing demands in the Emirate.read article
Focus: Mixed-use Developments
Cities within Cities
Sharjah's real estate sector is undergoing important transformations, with the government and developers focusing on megaprojects to attract investors. For this purpose, mixed-use developments are increasingly preferred to purely residential or commercial developments.read article
Focus: Fighting Cardiac Disease
The UAE Ministry of Health has stated that over half of all deaths in the UAE are the result of four oft-occurring issues: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, road traffic accidents, and congenital abnormalities. A survey from the Emirates Cardiac Society showed that almost 9 in 10 Emiratis are at risk of heart disease, with one in three unaware of that fact.read article
HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman , Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA)
TBY talks to HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), on the growing tourism sector in the Emirate, its strategies to boost cruise tourism, and the incredible progress in Sharjah.read article
Manal Ataya, Director General , Sharjah Museums Department (SMD)
TBY talks to Manal Ataya, Director General of the Sharjah Museums Department (SMD), on cooperating on international exhibits, its educational festivals, and the challenge to ensure that museums are accessible to all.read article
Hanan Al Mahmoud, Director, Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre (JRCC)
TBY talks to Hanan Al Mahmoud, Director of Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre (JRCC), on the appeal of Sharjah as a MICE destination, plans for expansion, and the projected benefits of Expo 2020.read article