Sharjah plans special zones

Marwan Jassim Al Sarkal

Sharjah is planning to set up independent or special zones to attract foreign investment and has appointed international consultants to define the feasible primary and secondary sectors for investment, Shurooq CEO told Emirates 24/7.  
“We are looking to allocate independent or special zones for investment outside of the populated areas in the emirate, where investors can conveniently practice their activities without hindrance. These activities are being studied not only to create investment opportunities, but also ease congestion in the city and reduce pollution,” Chief Executive Marwan Jassim Al Sarkal said.
“These independent zones are carefully evaluated in terms of location and connection to major transport networks. They will have the necessary support components to facilitate doing business.”  
According to Al Sarkal, international consultants were working on defining primary and secondary sectors that were feasible for investors to come to Sharjah.  
“This is very important as we are aiming to have long term investments and relationships that will create a win-win situation for both Sharjah and investors. Once these sectors are defined then we will be able to provide more accurate figures. Nevertheless, there are areas or sectors that we look at that are investment in people such as education which one cannot put a value on.”
Shurooq has already reached an agreement with OCO Global, a UK-based consulting firm in foreign direct investment, which is advising the authority on how to expand the emirate’s global reach and boost foreign investment.
“The agreement is aimed at advising us on how to expand Sharjah’s global reach and boost foreign investments in the emirate, especially in the industry and tourism sector, as well as in the area of promoting free zones. We aim to diversify the emirate’s economy into many different sectors and tourism sector is a major sector that we started to enhance and develop,” he added.
Asked in Sharjah was proposing any new incentives to attract foreign investors, he said: “The Sharjah government was already offering a number of incentives to foreign investors. As part of our mandate, we are always looking at new ways to promote Sharjah’s status as an investment destination, and obviously incentives are one way of doing this so it is definitely something we are looking at.”
Sharjah's gross domestic product (GDP) has risen to Dh71 billion by the end of 2008 from Dh41 billion in 2005, with a recorded annual growth rate of 11 per cent over the past five years.
The authority has been participating in international trade and travel shows to attract corporate and individual investors from all over the world to invest in the emirate.
Al Sarkal, who recently participated in the ITB Berlin travel and trade show with his team, said: “It is also part of our endeavour to open new investment markets, reinforce economic cooperation ties and promote the emirate as an investment destination of choice.”
Last week, this website reported that Shurooq was working on master plans to develop eco-tourism destinations within the emirate, especially “green” hotels in Khorfakkan and Kalba.  
The authority is currently fast tracking two hotels — one on the east coast of Khorfakhan, which is in the advanced design stage and one within the city of Sharjah. It is working on a plan to make Kalba as an eco-tourism destination with many resorts and facilities.   
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