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UAE - Economy

Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Bin Khalid Al Qasimi

Executive Chairman, Department of Government Relations


Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Bin Khalid Al Qasimi is Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations.

"One of the wisest decisions by His Highness, the ruler, was bringing together our two leading academic institutions, both the University of Sharjah and the American University of Sharjah, to cooperate and build the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park."
TBY talks to Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Bin Khalid Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations.
Sharjah continues to strengthen its presence in terms of education, culture, and innovation. What initiatives does the Emirates offer to further enhance its appeal to international investors and businesses?

One of the wisest decisions by His Highness, the ruler, was bringing together our two leading academic institutions, both the University of Sharjah and the American University of Sharjah, to cooperate and build the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park. We have spent over 25 years building two leading academic institutions in the University City. After that era of teaching, we are now in the era of research. The leadership of both of those universities has highlighted the key drivers of why we can build that innovation ecosystem today. Number one is a fantastic group of students who are the pride and joy of Sharjah. They are the people who are learning, thinking, and innovating within the campus. The second one is the quality and caliber of the faculty. The leadership of both universities has attracted top talent in their respective fields to teach and innovate in Sharjah. Last, but not least, is connectivity. Innovating and studying in Sharjah is not just studying in Sharjah; it is about connecting with global institutions like universities or with academics in the region, or with other students from other universities and other innovation institutions in the globe. Global connectivity is a message that Sharjah’s innovation ecosystem will continue to emerge as being a key part of.

Where do you see opportunities, interaction, and connection, in terms of cultural exchange, heritage exchange, or educational exchange?

Our agenda for Sharjah has predominantly been driven by a consistent theme under the leadership of His Highness: “culture is where we begin.” Cultural relations or cultural diplomacy in Sharjah is the reason why many partners from around the world come here to collaborate. We have worked with our archeological department and our publishing industry to foster global cultural relations across the globe. Cultural exchanges go hand in hand with our economic diplomacy. Partners such as Invest in Sharjah or the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce work with us to identify opportunities for us to trade. The third part is our education diplomacy, and this is where the two leading universities in the region work with us. Our main agenda post-pandemic is looking close to home, and we are excited about the GCC as a region. We have cultural institutions in Sharjah like the UN’s International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), the Arab Parliament for Children under the auspices of the Arab League, and the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ICESCO). Today, those institutions play a leading role in providing cultural leadership for the region, which mirrors Sharjah’s role. We will look more into countries within the region to partner with including Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and countries within the wider Middle East and South Asia. That is where we will chart our economic diplomacy in the coming months.

What role do you see emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain playing in Sharjah’s future development plans, especially in sectors such as education and healthcare?

There is no doubt AI will change the global landscape. We were fortunate in Sharjah that His Highness, the Ruler and His Highness, the Crown Prince, took active steps to transition Sharjah around digitalization by establishing the Sharjah Digital office. Sharjah has a young, educated, innovative population that is often the earliest adopters of such technology. By working with the Sharjah Research Technology Innovation Park and Sharjah Digital office, we want to ensure we create an environment that is primed for the private sector to be able to innovate and access the talent that they need to innovate and provide the service, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness that AI brings.

How are the government, the Department of Government Relations, and the private sector working to position Sharjah at an international level compared to the other Emirates?

We play highly complementary roles, also understanding the role each individual Emirate has within the UAE. Every investment into our infrastructure is done in line with the domestic landscape and the UAE strategy. We are all working toward the economic prosperity of the UAE. Sharjah has played a unique role in specific sectors, and rather than competition against other Emirates, there is instead complementarity. Within Sharjah, there is a strong opportunity with mid-scale manufacturing as a base. We have also seen positive growth in our real estate sector. There has been investment by large multinational UAE companies in the banking sector and others that are leveraging Sharjah as a core part of their workforce. In the coming years as the UAE continues to grow, we will not see people comparing one Emirate over another. Rather, it will be a complementary overview of all the Emirates as a whole.

Which particular regions beyond the GCC is Sharjah targeting?

For us, the key export markets would be the east coast of the African continent. Invest in Sharjah and the Chamber of Commerce have worked hard to identify economic opportunities to boost trade in that part of the world. The CIS is also fascinating, and I will travel to that region more frequently to identify opportunities to boost trade and enhance our economic diplomacy. In 2024, we have a large delegation going to Chongqing province in China as well. When looking for targets, we tend to focus on states or cities that share the same values as Sharjah, where we can already identify one part of our diplomacy portfolio to work on.

Where do you see Sharjah in the coming year, and what initiative will the Sharjah Department of Government Relations focus on in 2025?

2025 will be a year in which we will see another jump in the population of Sharjah with the delivery of amazing real estate projects where people will choose to live and work in Sharjah. I truly commend the efforts of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) and expect to see a flurry of young, thriving businesses opening up to address the growing population and consumer market in Sharjah. At the same time, we hope to identify several key business partners, whether that be in professional services or financial services, that will look to Sharjah to expand their footprint. We are pleased that companies such as Amazon and Halliburton have chosen Hamriyah Free Zone or SAIF Zone as base for their regional footprints. Sharjah and the UAE have an approach to partnership by building common goals. If a business wants to prosper in Sharjah, then the government will support it.



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