Relationship. In his welcome note David Burns, Deputy Chair, British Business Group, remarked, "The British Business Group specifically works to support SME's, and Sharjah is the hub of SME's in the UAE. Businesses in Sharjah have always demonstrated a very sound and professional business ethic and the British Business Group is proud and honoured to engage with the British business community in Sharjah in particular.
The British Business Group in Dubai and the Northern Emirates is the biggest British Business Group in the world and the largest business group in the GCC. We appreciate the engagement by Shurooq in furthering that relationship between the two communities. We'd like to personally thank the organisers from Sharjah and the attendees of this roundtable in demonstrating their commitment to furthering business relations in Sharjah." The emirate of Sharjah and the UK enjoy a longstanding and highly successful relationship. In 2012, the value of trade exchange between Sharjah and the UK was AED 1.1 billion. Although there has been a slight decrease in the overall trade between Sharjah and the UK - trade in 2010 was AED 1.2 billion. There are more than 100,000 UK expatriates live in the UAE- the UK's largest trading partner in the Middle East - working in more than 5,000 UK businesses in the emirates which draw, alongside tourism, more than one million British visitors through 170 weekly flights between the two countries.
CEO of Shurooq Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal said: "Shurooq's main focus is to create and facilitate investment and development opportunities in Sharjah through careful planning and designing of Sharjah's key tourism and development assets to create a diverse portfolio of projects that include heritage preservation, waterfront developments, retail, commercial and residential offerings as well as by stimulating new activities in key sectors such as healthcare, energy, the environment and logistics." Sharjah is becoming an increasingly popular tourism and leisure destination thanks to the strategy laid by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and the close follow up of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Shurooq.
This strategy has seen a diverse range of projects across the major sectors being undertaken by Shurooq, which offer highly rewarding investment opportunities for local and foreign investors. In line with Sharjah's overall strategy, Shurooq has initiated a large array of ground breaking projects, aimed at stimulating the Emirate's burgeoning tourism sector, such as Al Jabal Resort - The Chedi Khorfakkan, Sir Bu Nair Island, the Heart of Sharjah, Al Bait Hotel, Al Majaz Waterfront, Flag Island, the Kalba Eco-tourism project, Al Montazah Park, and Al Hisn Island - Dibba Al Hisn." Emphasising the special relationship between Sharjah and Britain, the Shurooq CEO said, "The emirate of Sharjah and the UK enjoy a longstanding and highly successful relationship. In 2012, the value of trade exchange between Sharjah and the UK was AED 1.1 billion. Although there has been a slight decrease in the overall trade between Sharjah and the UK - trade in 2010 was AED 1.2 billion. There are more than 100,000 UK expatriates live in the UAE- the UK's largest trading partner in the Middle East - working in more than 5,000 UK businesses in the emirates which draw, alongside tourism, more than one million British visitors through 170 weekly flights between the two countries." On Sharjah's advances in the field of sustainability, Meera Taryam, Director of Environmental Services '&' Education the Sharjah Environment Company (Bee'ah), said, "The UAE government is proactively implementing stricter environmental legislations and setting targets for renewable energies. This is spurring both public and private sectors to explore ways to achieve compliance and generate demand for environmental services. Bee'ah aims to tackle waste in the region and build a strong waste management infrastructure, with the ultimate goal of leading the emirate of Sharjah to become the first city in the Middle East to achieve Zero-waste-To-Landfill by 2015. Our aim is to foster the creation of sustainable and economically viable solutions for waste management and to thereby drastically reduce Sharjah and by extension, the UAE's carbon footprint." On Sharjah's logistics sector, Ohoud Ali Abdalla, from Hamriyah Free Zone Authority, highlighted Sharjah's unrivalled strategic location, its direct access to three ports and both the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, its well-developed air transport and cargo capabilities and the fact that it offers foreign investors and businesses an ideal environment to base their operations in the Gulf region.
Emphasising Sharjah's strength an economic centre, Ohoud said, "Sharjah has the most diversified economy in the region with economic sectors contributing more than 20 per cent of the emirate's GDP. Sharjah is the UAE's industrial powerhouse as it is home to almost one third of industrial activities in the country, powered by durability of the SME sector, which consists of about 45,000 strong and effective companies, making Sharjah an excellent competitive investment destination".
Concluding the presentations, Binu Pisharadi, Commercial Affairs Manager of Sharjah Healthcare City (SHCC), outlined the array of opportunities available to prospective investors in Sharjah's healthcare and related fields. Stating, "Sharjah's healthcare industry is expected to grow by 9.3 per cent from its current AED 4.59 Billion to AED 6.55 Billion in that year - he stated that this represents a key opportunity for investors wishing to enter the market."