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Sharjah to raise capital for tourism

Islamic sukuk to be invested in emirate's development projects

Gulf News

London: Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (SIDA) has started talks with banks to raise capital through an Islamic sukuk to invest in tourism projects worth Dh10 billion, a top official said.

"Yes, we have started talks with banks to raise capital for the development of tourism projects in the emirate of Sharjah," Marwan J. Al Sarkal, chief executive of SIDA, which is known as Shurooq in Arabic, told Gulf News here on Monday.

"It will definitely be through Islamic instrument, possibly a sukuk. However, at the moment I can't tell you the size. Too early."

Shurooq was established by a decree in February this year to encourage investment and achieve economic diversity in the emirate. It is a fully independent financial and administrative entity, the decree says. Shaikha Budoor Bint Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi was appointed chairperson of the authority.

Al Sarkal said the funds will be invested in developing projects — real estate, tourism, commercial or industrial — through forging partnerships, joint ventures or facilitating investment.

Surooq has been modelled on the same lines as the Tourism Development and Investment Company — the asset management and investment arm of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority which recently issued a $1.45 billion (Dh5.3 billion) sukuk.

"Our mandate is wider. However, we have identified a number of tourism projects. "These include redevelopment of Jazeera Park, developing a heritage site and the redevelopment of a mangrove site in Kalba into a pure eco-tourism site by developing a resort," he said.

He said SIDA has already started negotiating with a number of investors, including Barajeel Holding, to undertake some of these projects, especially the eco-tourism project in Kalba — a major domestic tourism attraction — on the East Coast of the UAE bordering Oman and spread between the Arabian Sea and the Hajjar mountains.

The authority aims to encourage investment and achieve economic diversity and social enrichment in the emirate by using the best service standards that attract investors.