The segment grew by eight per cent last year as 90 new plants opened with Dh249 million of investment. Ministry of Economy figures put the total value of investment in the emirate’s industrial sector at Dh4.2 billion, an average of Dh3.5 million per facility.
The sector employs 77,564 workers, an average of 64 per facility per plant and an increase of 3,940 compared to 2007. Sharjah has 19 industrial areas.
The emirate is taking a further step forward by organising the first Economic and Industrial Cities Forum. The event will be held on April 27 and 28 and is expected to attract 400 investors, businessmen, industrialists and representatives of industrial free zones and Arab funds.
Thirteen Arab countries have developed a total of 35 free zones and in 2008 steps were taken to set up a federation to boost co-operation among them.
“The Sharjah Government is working to support the emirate’s industrial sector and seeks to attract major industrial projects by providing the necessary infrastructure and facilities,” said Ali bin Salem Al Mahmoud, Director-General of the Sharjah Economic Development Department, the forum’s organiser.
Al Mahmoud said his department was studying the needs of major industrial projects and exploring ways of attracting them. He said the forum will benefit all areas of the economy, particularly the industrial sector. The event will set strategic targets for economic development, support the establishment of specialised industrial networks, work to develop exports, improve the investment environment and promote the benefits of industrial investment in the UAE, and Sharjah in particular.
Saeed Abdullah Al Roken, the ministry’s Director of Industrial Development, said Sharjah’s increased share of industrial facilities – despite the low value of investment compared with that made in Abu Dhabi – was attributable to the types of factories developed there.
Large- and medium-sized industrial facilities were centred in Abu Dhabi while small- and medium-sized ones are found in Sharjah and Ajman. Also Abu Dhabi could accommodate plants with vast areas and requiring large amounts of capital, such as the Dh22 billion Aman aluminium factory.
He said the coming years would witness a major industrial leap in Sharjah and the Northern Emirates based on a federal strategy of supporting developing areas as well as supplying them with the necessary infrastructure to set up large- and medium-sized plants.