Apr 30, 2024

Emirates Development Bank Forum Highlights Role of Strategic Partnerships in Sharjah’s Economic Growth and Diversification


Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, 29 April 2024: In partnership with MoIAT’s “Make it in the Emirates" initiative, Emirates Development Bank ("EDB" or "the Bank"), today hosted the highly anticipated Sharjah edition of EDB Connect at the Sharjah Research, Technology, and Innovation Park, convening key industry leaders, government officials, and business innovators to discuss, debate, and shape the future of Sharjah’s economy with a focus on how strategic partnerships can empower sustainable growth.

EDB Connect is a series of forums organized by EDB in partnership with the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology’s “Make it in the Emirates" initiative. The forums aim to foster collaboration between government entities and private sector companies to drive UAE's national economic growth and diversification.

Held under the theme of “Fostering Strategic Partnerships to Shape Sharjah’s Sustainable Economic Landscape,” the day’s agenda explored how federal and local efforts, along with dynamic public-private partnerships, can foster an ecosystem that attracts businesses and investments. Focused sessions highlighted the role of strategic partnerships in driving economic growth and innovation, as well as the mechanisms supporting entrepreneurs and driving the emirate’s emergence as a leading incubator for startups and SMEs in the region.

As the UAE embarks on an ambitious journey of economic diversification, forums like EDB Connect underline the strategic efforts that foster an innovation-driven economy, leveraging the emirate's competitive advantages across sectors.

In his welcome address, His Excellency Ahmed Mohamed Al Naqbi, Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Development Bank, said: “EDB Connect is ultimately a platform where ideas converge, partnerships are forged, and strategies are crafted to drive sustainable growth. Our focus is on nurturing strategic partnerships that align with Sharjah's economic aspirations and the broader goals of the UAE.

“In our role as the federal development bank of the UAE, we see Sharjah a dynamic emirate that is a hub for culture, education, agritech, manufacturing, and increasingly, sustainable economic development. At EDB, our commitment is to catalyze the economic diversification of the UAE – a role that is evidenced by our substantial financial engagements across every emirate of the UAE. Our total financing across the emirates amounted to AED10.4 billion since the launch of our new strategy in 2021. In Sharjah alone, our financing has reached AED837 million across key sectors that are crucial to the UAE’s broader development objectives.”

He added: “Our partnerships and collaborations in Sharjah have been instrumental in advancing projects that not only contribute to the economy but also align with our core values at EDB. We believe in driving economic impact over profit, excelling through partnerships delivering innovative excellence, and ensuring that our initiatives have a lasting positive impact on the community and the environment.” 

In his address, H.E. Mohammed Juma Al Musharrakh, CEO of Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), said: “At the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), we firmly believe in the power of robust partnerships to shape Sharjah’s sustainable economic trajectory. We are committed to creating an attractive environment for business success and prosperity, not only for large corporations but also for startups and SMEs. Our collaboration with Emirates Development Bank is a crucial component in supporting the growth of key industries in Sharjah, including manufacturing, healthcare, education, tourism, real estate, mobility, logistics, green technology, agritech, and human capital development. Sharjah's diverse free zones and public-private partnerships also provide an ideal ecosystem for businesses to establish and thrive.”

“In 2023, Sharjah attracted AED 1.8 billion in FDI, securing its position as the fifth-fastest-growing city globally in terms of attracting FDI, as per fDi Markets. This achievement underscores the emirate's commitment to economic growth and our dedication to achieving our goals in the coming years.”

Emirates Development Bank has been providing instrumental financing support to enable industrial advancement and sustainable economic growth in Sharjah. This is further reflected in the fact that 64% of EDB’s total financing in Sharjah in the past three years supported the manufacturing sector and 16% supported renewables projects. This also indicates the alignment of the Bank’s financing with the national agenda for sustainable development and economic diversification.

Panel Discussions 

EDB Connect – Sharjah Edition included three focused sessions which featured speakers from the UAE Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, Ministry of Climate Change & Environment, Ministry of Economy, Sharjah Department of Economic Development, and the Department of Agriculture & Livestock. Other participating partners Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park, Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), Sharjah Entrepreneurial Center (Sheraa), Ruwad, Invest in Sharjah and the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry. 

The first panel delved into strategies and initiatives from key local and federal entities for nurturing an attractive business and investment environment in Sharjah. The second panel focused on the role of strategic partnerships in driving innovation and economic growth. The last session highlighted experiences of EDB customers and strategies of key entities in Sharjah to empower entrepreneurs and provide comprehensive business incubators for startups and SMEs.

The panel sessions and collaborative discussions at the forum underline Emirates Development Bank's pivotal role in shaping the new economic narrative of Sharjah and the UAE.

Concluding the day, a special award ceremony was held recognizing key stakeholders and strategic partners that work together in Sharjah.

Emirates Development Bank's critical role in the UAE’s economic transformation is reflected in its initiatives to provide competitive, flexible, and inclusive financing, foster large companies, enable SMEs growth, and support its five priority sectors. As the financial engine of these diversification efforts, EDB's commitment to enabling innovative projects and sustainable growth strategies was a central theme throughout the discussions.

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