HERE TO HELP

The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has established a one-stop shop for investors looking to obtain business licenses and permits.

The UAE has long attracted international business, with FDI growing by USD1.63 billion in 2017, and now officials in Sharjah are seeking to help prospective investors navigate the process of establishing new companies in the nation's third-largest Emirate. As part of a drive to continue the rapid diversification of the economy toward non-petroleum-based sectors such as tourism, health, transport, manufacturing, and publishing, Sharjah launched a business facilitation initiative in September 2018 known as the Investors Services Center.

Spearheaded by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and Injazat Services, the center will work as a one-stop shop for investors seeking information relating to business opportunities in the Emirate, as well as assistance in obtaining the necessary licenses and operating permits. Throughout 2018, Shurooq developed a high-end facility headquartered in Al Qasba to offer prospective investors peace of mind through integrated business consultancy services aimed specifically at welcoming companies into the thriving Sharjah business environment, easing the paperwork process for newcomers unfamiliar with local regulations and requirements.

“Our key objective behind the new and first investors' center is to expand on our on-going operations for Sharjah's economic and social sustainability and infrastructure and build on the Emirate's competitive advantage for being one of the most attractive investment destinations in the region," said Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, executive chairman of Shurooq. “The center builds on Sharjah's diverse economy and resources and functions as a focal unit in its unique business-friendly environment and will create major added value in the Emirate's economic growth and diversification."

The joint venture aims to build on Sharjah's competitive advantage among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and establish the Emirate as one of the most attractive investment destinations in the region. The Investors Services Center serves as an all-inclusive access point for global business owners and investors seeking to expand operations in Sharjah and will be serviced by a highly trained consultancy staff to help streamline the business establishment process for high-level and mid-level investments across all economic sectors within the Emirate.

By taking advantage of its digitally robust data and business information center, interested investors are now able to conduct market research and needs analysis studies to isolate business opportunities through Shurooq's purpose-built information terminals, instead of hiring independent consulting firms or taking traditional approaches that can slow the decision-making process. With the intention of streamlining business initiatives from exploration to foundation and registration, the investor services center will connect entrepreneurs directly with Sharjah's regulatory entities. The center is designed to provide access for all government departments responsible for issuing commercial licenses and negotiate favorable conditions for both business owners and Emirati authorities in full transparency from start to finish.

The development comes as Sharjah continues to cultivate a friendly business environment for foreign enterprises. As in other UAE Emirates, Sharjah has developed several free zones, in which foreign investors can establish businesses while retaining full ownership of commercial assets. Currently, 45 free zones exist in the UAE, with three in Sharjah, including one in Hamriya, one in the Sharjah Airport, and another in the USA Regional Trade Center.

Opening a business in these free zones can take as little as one hour, and the business-friendly regulations offer investors a long menu of competitive advantages, such as corporate tax waivers, personal and export tax exemptions, and 100% revenue and profit repatriation options. Sharjah is home to some of the most dynamic free zones in the UAE, and to invigorate its rapidly expanding global business sector, Shurooq officials began conceptualizing the framework for the Investors Services Center, starting at the 2017 Sharjah Forum, titled “The Future of Sharjah." With liberal business regulations and free zones in place, the Investors Service Center will be a key access point for driving innovation and development in Sharjah for years to come.
Foreign investors have multiple business options when pursuing opportunities in Sharjah, and the center can help facilitate and quickly establish international limited liability companies, partnership companies, local service agent licenses, foreign company branches, local company branches, GCC company branches, as well as public and private shareholding companies. The Sharjah Investors Services Center allows global entrepreneurs to review business license options under the guidance of state consultants and decide which business structures will best suit their needs.