TRADE CENTERS

UAE, Sharjah 2017 | ECONOMY | B2B

Sharjah's trade and expo centers are bringing together private- and public-sector organizations within Sharjah and throughout the world to establish a formidable presence in trade and exhibitions.

HE Saif Mohammed Al Midfa
HE SAIF MOHAMMED AL MIDFA
CEO
Expo Centre Sharjah
Jihad Solaiman
JIHAD SOLAIMAN
CEO
USA Regional Trade Center (USARTC)

What are your strategies to increase Sharjah's presence and economic activity on the international stage?

HE SAID MOHAMMED AL MIDFA Sharjah strategically connects three continents and has a ready catchment market of over 1 billion people across the Middle East, CIS region, North Africa, and the Indian subcontinent. This has helped in attracting more exhibitors from across the world and quality visitors from across the target markets, resulting in improving Sharjah's standing as one of the most diversified economies as well as an investment destination in the region. Being an active member of prestigious international and regional entities like the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), and Arab Union for International Exhibitions and Conferences, as well as our association with many industry bodies, has helped us establish Sharjah's presence on the global exhibitions map.

JIHAD SOLAIMAN The USARTC is a business hub that bridges US and UAE companies and entrepreneurs. It was originally founded with a focus on goods trading and has since expanded to provide consultation and office space for the business operations of foreign companies. The center helps to enable entrepreneurs in expanding their market into MENA, the GCC, and the US by assisting with all business set-up needs in order to accommodate the thriving entrepreneurial and start-up environment.

How do you create synergies with other businesses and entities in Sharjah?

SMAM We work closely with the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), and its support and guidance have helped us tremendously in promoting local industries and SMEs in a big way. SMEs are the lifeline of local industry, and we give them a great opportunity to market their products through our shows and events. Sharjah is also building a new 4 million-sqft exhibition and conference center in Al Tai district. Expo Centre, along with its sister organization in Khor Fakkan, and the new facility will work together to establish Sharjah as a nerve center of the events and exhibitions industry in the region and across the world.

JS American companies usually look for free zones, so we maintain good relationships with the free zone authorities and can offer companies locations in free zones. This is one of the most attractive aspects of the center, as we provide assistance in operating in a free zone; we are able to open the door for companies to the market through our contacts. Operating in a free zone allows US citizens to retain 100% ownership of their company and pay no taxes. The safer, lower-risk environment is beneficial to investors, especially if it is the first time they are expanding internationally.

How has your growth evolved over time, and how are you anticipating future growth?

SMAM We have been registering impressive growth year after year. More than 300,000 people visited 12 events during 1Q2017. There are several factors that have helped us. They include our strategic location, a strong track record of four decades, the support and guidance we receive from the SCCI, state-of-the-art facilities, and highly professional management, marketing, and promotion teams. A clear strategy of investing in niche events that are unique to our region has also helped us a lot. Emphasis on external events has paid us rich dividends. We aim to maintain the momentum for the rest of the year.

JS Over time, the USARTC has attracted more companies in more varied industries. It has expanded to offer more customized office space and to accommodate larger US companies such as Global Eagle (formerly EMC). Global Eagle provides communication satellites and is based here for the region. It offers in-flight entertainment, which is used by companies like Emirates and British Airways. This is one of the most important companies we have and it employs many people. We have other companies offering different types of products, such as Shining Monkey, Goodman, and GMC. We have some customers who are interested in other countries in the region such as Oman or Qatar. We tried to get some high value luxury furniture companies into Saudi Arabia, but right now our main focus is on the UAE.