Sharjah's largest ever delegation, comprising more than 20 government and private organizations arrived in Washington DC, in the first roadshow in the USA, organized by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) under the slogan: "Sharjah - Promising Opportunities, Global Horizons".
Taking place from 30 September to 4 October, the roadshow aims to promote Sharjah's investment, business, and cultural offerings - as well as to explore avenues of cooperation with US companies and organizations.
According to organizers, the four-day roadshow aims to strengthen the relations with the US and identify the emirate as a distinguished business, tourism and cultural destination in the region, as well as to highlight its various attractions and investment opportunities and explore avenues of cooperation with US firms in educational, health and cultural sectors.
Led by Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Media Center, the delegation is composed of representatives from Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), the Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD), Sharjah Media Corporation (SMC), Sharjah Media Centre (SMC), the Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA), the Sharjah Museums Department (SMD), Sharjah Health Authority (SHA), Sharjah Department of Public Works (DPW), The Sharjah Environment Company (Beeah), Sharjah Tatweer Forum, Crescent Petroleum, Crescent Enterprises, Dana Gas, U.S.A. Regional Trade Center, the American University of Sharjah (AUS), and Sharjah Businesswomen Council.
Speaking on the occasion, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi stressed the significant role played by the UAE in extending bridges of cooperation and strengthening mutual relations in various fields, as well as the UAE's keenness to reinforce its relation of friendship and joint action with other countries in the world.
He referred to the impressive development witnessed by the UAE in all spheres and arenas, as well as the high reputation the UAE has gained among countries in the world as a result of the country's strategy focused on serious work, planning and economic and cultural openness.
Sheikh Sultan Al Qassimi added: "We pointed out the excellent bilateral relations with the USA as well as the mutual respect, strong friendship and the joint cooperation already in a number of areas. The delegation's visit is emphasizing our keen desire to expand these relations towards new horizons, driven by the attractive investment climate enjoyed by the UAE, specifically the Emirate of Sharjah, making it a safe haven and an ideal destination sought after and favored by investors from all over the world."
He noted that "the vast experiences and diversity of sectors in the USA as well as the desire by US firms to expand to Middle Eastern and Asian markets make this visit at this specific time an opportunity for both sides."
He added that business data and statistics data show that trade and investment relations between Sharjah and USA maintained their present high rates over the last 10 years, where there are now around 300 US companies in the emirate of Sharjah alone. Trade between Sharjah and the USA reached Dhs20bn ($5.4bn) in the period from 1991 to 2012. According to US business statistics, the UAE is ranked as the 21st highest investor in the USA, with investments totaling $17.34 billion, ahead of many countries in the region.
Sheikh Sultan went on to say that, "We strive through our tour in USA to discuss avenues of cooperation in economy, investment, culture and media, while the participating entities and organizations in the Sharjah delegation will highlight Sharjah's business potential as well as varied and attractive investment opportunities within the four key investment areas, namely environment, travel and leisure, logistics and transport, and healthcare.
"The package also includes other sectors, most notably oil and gas, retail and wholesale, technology, manufacturing, and education among others."
The delegation includes high profile and professional figures to showcase these sectors and conduct meetings over possible avenues of cooperation with their counterparts in the USA. The roadshow will also see a series of meetings and talks with US media, cultural and art authorities and bodies.
During the four-day roadshow, the Sharjah delegation will meet the International Financial Corporation (IFC), the US Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Arab American Chamber of Commerce, and the U.S UAE Business Council, with all three of these organizations having corporate and individual members.
Other entities include the US Export Assistance Center (USEAC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), Import and Export Bank, Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), as well as a group of companies and businessmen in the USA.
The delegation will also conduct a series of direct meetings with companies and investors in Washington and New York.
The travel and leisure mentioned in Sheikh Sultan's statement is one of the key investment sectors the emirate of Sharjah will be promoting during its roadshow in the USA. The sector achieved high growth rates annually, as it touched Dhs1.10bn ($299m) in 2011, and then grew in 2012 to Dhs1.17bn. The travel sector is expected to reach Dhs1.24bn by the end of this year, to continue rising to Dhs1.32bn in 2014, and Dhs1.40 in 2015, and Dhs1.49bn in 2016.
The leisure sector includes important areas, the most prominent of which is hotels and restaurants, with demand for hotel rooms is expected to increase by 6.2 percent in the period from 2012-2016. The demand for expected hotel rooms account for 3,000 new rooms, while the future rooms "supply" are about 2,250 rooms.
Regarding restaurants, consumer spending in restaurants is expected to grow to Dhs4.66bn in the period from 2012-2016, with a growth rate of 4.6% and future revenues touching about Dhs1.15bn. Expected revenues generated from supply and demand for restaurants are expected to hit Dhs5m by the end of this year, up to Dhs6m in 2016.
Shurooq has identified investment opportunities in the restaurant sector in two areas; high-class restaurants and the setting up of new restaurants with special offers that meet the needs of Eastern European tourists and attract global franchise companies in Sharjah.
Shurooq was established in 2009 with the aim of achieving social, cultural, environmental and economic development on the basis of Sharjah's distinct Arab and Islamic identity, and to encourage investment by adopting the best international standards in providing quality services that help attract investors from the region and the world.
Shurooq's key mission is to provide facilities and incentives to help overcome obstacles facing investment activities in the Emirate, evaluate tourism and investment related infrastructure projects, and lay down the necessary plans to complete such projects.