INCUBATING SHARJAH

UAE 2018 | SHARJAH | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, Chairman of the Board of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), on promoting innovation, collaboration, and expansion in Sharjah.

Abdullah Sultan Al Owais
BIOGRAPHY
Abdullah Sultan Al Owais graduated from The United Arab Emirates University with a bachelor’s in business management in 1990. He has occupied several positions at the UAE Ministry of Economy and Commerce and has served on numerous prestigious boards, such as the board of Emirates NBD and National Bank of Dubai. Since May 2014, he has been the Chairman of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Expo Centre of Sharjah. In December 2014, he was elected Vice Chairman of the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry. He is also a businessman with several ventures in industry, education, banking, and the food industry.

What milestones has SCCI achieved in promoting innovation?

In line with the UAE's vision, the SCCI is focused on maintaining a culture of innovation, promoting creativity in all fields of operation, and enhancing competitiveness. The SCCI seeks to realize the vision of Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to achieve sustainable development and a knowledge-based economy through continuous efforts to provide an environment conducive to development, innovation, and education. The most recent program launched by Sharjah Chamber was “Business on Wheels,” during the “UAE Innovation Week” at the Sharjah Expo Centre. The first of its kind in Sharjah, Business on Wheels offers clients, investors, and proprietors a mobile one-stop solution to complete their transactions, issuance of certificates of origin, attestation, and signature. The vehicle is a mobile office furnished by the chamber with all the necessities for completing a variety of transactions. Early in 2017, the chamber launched a package of services and initiatives called the “Workshop to Innovate” aimed at developing ideas that increase everyday productivity. This will be implemented through an application for interactive games that motivate staff to increase their efficiency, focus, and elevate their competitive edge. The chamber also communicates with members and the public through a smart application to provide a “one window” service, in coordination with the Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD).

What are the chamber's primary tools for communicating with the public, the private sector, and potential partners abroad?

Currently there are more than 45,000 SMEs operating in Sharjah. The SCCI provides every region of Sharjah with integrated services of international standards. Sharjah Chamber pushed further development by adding value to the economic arena by launching the Expo Centre Sharjah, Sharjah Export Development Center, Sharjah International Commercial Arbitration Center (Tahkeem), Sharjah Training and Development Center, and Sharjah Economic Excellence Award. We also oversee the Sharjah Award for Best 10 Entities, Sharjah Green Award, Sharjah Award for Social Responsibility, Sharjah Award for Business Start-ups, and Sharjah Award for Entrepreneurship. The SCCI also maintains close ties with different local government entities in Sharjah as well as its counterparts in other Emirates under the umbrella of the UAE Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. We also have a strong role in the Federation of GCC Chambers, working alongside our counterparts in the Arab world to elevate and integrate the economic performance of the UAE and our neighbors to the highest degree. The SCCI receives delegates from countries all over the world to improve bilateral ties by strengthening economic, commercial, and investment relationships. We take part in economic events, international meetings and conferences, and organize visits by commercial delegations year round. Sharjah Chamber recently launched a new initiative under the theme “business breakfast” with the purpose of bringing a select group of Sharjah CEOs together with representatives of diplomatic missions and business council members across the UAE.

How does the SCCI encourage growth in the private sector and help businesses build their international profile?

The SCCI designed a business incubator project to provide continual assistance for start-ups by providing support resources and services. The project aims to create a conducive growth environment for start-ups and increase their chances of success in the early stages of operation, which are often the most difficult for new businesses. In addition to helping transform preliminary research and feasibility studies into marketable projects, we offer various support, facilities, and experience to help foster growth. Sharjah Chamber supports start-up investments and honors outstanding businesses of all sectors by providing them with various advantages like allocating monetary awards, international promotion, and increased networking. Each of our awards is given with the intention of spreading a culture of quality and excellence in all segments of the private sector and to support and motivate young entrepreneurs.