Sharjah is highlighting its gateway credentials for global businesses exploring a more visible presence in the Middle East. Image Credit: Supplied

The Gulf remains a top destination for businesses and investments, luring major international corporations to establish their headquarters due to a world-class infrastructure, robust legislative and security frameworks, and favourable business environment. These advantages have proven to be a draw for emerging companies, solidifying the region's status as a leader in an evolving global economy.

To showcase the impact of the region's markets on investments and emerging companies, the sixth edition of the Sharjah Investment Forum (SIF) is being held under the theme ‘Redefining economies, making significant strides for a better future’. This event will highlight the region's strengths and its promising economic indicators.

Safety net for startups

The favourable economic conditions serve as a safety net for startups, enabling their expansion in the GCC markets, known for their economic stability and strong purchasing power. Furthermore, the region offers investors various financing options and incentives, enhancing the startups' prospects, particularly with a global talent pool and skilled workers in the region providing a strong foundation for sustainable growth.

The world has seen an unprecedented surge in emerging SMEs and businesses with innovative models due to the technology-driven sectors and the communication revolution that has facilitated access to global markets. These companies are searching for safe markets for their businesses and ensuring growth, making regional markets, and the UAE in particular, a prime destination.

Drawing in more FDI

The UAE has emerged as a hub for the regional operations of multinational corporations. According to the 2022 Competitiveness Report, the country ranks 23rd globally in attracting FDI. Furthermore, Sharjah serves as a gateway to the Arab Gulf markets, which boasts a GDP of $1.6 trillion, and provides a solid foundation for investors with its six free zones and 33 industrial zones, in addition to the UAE free zones, which recorded Dh678 billion in trade and recorded a growth of 29 per cent in 2022.

The IMF has noted that the Gulf nations effectively overcame the pandemic through effective crisis management and adherence to economic diversification policies, which created a supportive environment for the economies and heightened their appeal, leading to an upward growth trajectory despite the worldwide economic slowdown caused by the pandemic's impact. This is a testament to the strong direction of the UAE and Gulf economies, driven by increased participation from various groups, including women, in driving economic progress.

The general stability in the region has also played a significant role in the increase of startup launches in the GCC. A Forbes report shows that the 50 most promising startups of 2021 secured a record-breaking investment of approximately $3 billion, with the UAE hosting 22 of these ventures and securing financing of $1.8 billion. Saudi Arabia followed closely with 12 companies that secured $520.4 million.