Often perceived in the West as the quiet United Arab Emirate, the nation-state of Sharjah will bring its voice to Washington, D.C. and New York City next week seeking closer cultural and economic ties to the United States. The Sharjah delegation hopes to secure greater bi-lateral economic cooperation, investment and tourism. While Abu Dhabi and Dubai get the lion’s share of U.S. travel and business interest in the UAE, Sharjah, the third largest of the seven Emirates, remains an untapped resource offering outstanding investment opportunities and culturally rich heritage sites to be discovered by Americans.
September 30th through October 4th, the largest Sharjah delegation to date will meet in Washington, D.C. and New York with senior U.S. officials in government, business, and the cultural and tourism communities. As American businesses plan expansion in the Middle East, and with U.S. exports to the Arab world rising more than 17% in 2012, Sharjah’s outreach to the U.S. is particularly well timed.
Organized by Sharjah’s Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the delegation will be highlighting Sharjah as a business, tourism, and cultural destination of choice in the Middle East, and the only GCC hub with direct access to the Gulf and the Indian Ocean, representing a historically rich gateway to 2 billion people in 160 countries.
“Sharjah is a widely untapped business and cultural gem to the West. Our goal is to change that and show U.S. businesses and travellers what they’ve been missing,” says Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi, head of the Sharjah delegation and member of Sharjah’s royal family. “Whether it’s our rich, vibrant culture, our state of the art infrastructure, or the fact that Sharjah offers very attractive investment opportunities in all sectors, the truth is that when it comes to the rapidly growing Gulf region, what we have to offer is hard to beat.”
One of the leading members of the delegation will be Ameera BinKaram, Chairperson of the Sharjah Business Women Council. BinKaram is actively involved in empowering women in business in Sharjah. She is also a key team member of Sharjah’s humanitarian response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis. The effort, known as Big Heart, under the leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Muhammad Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has raised more than 15 million dollars in the past 4 months alone. The Big Heart campaign has been widely recognized as one of the most successful and compassionate contributions to help relieve the suffering of Syrian Refugees.
“It may surprise Americans, that women are playing a big role in Sharjah’s economic resurgence,” says Ameera BinKaram. “We invite our friends in America to come to Sharjah, set aside any preconceptions and discover for themselves all that Sharjah has to offer as a business and tourist destination of choice. I guarantee they’ll not be disappointed.”
Among those participating in the Sharjah delegation will be the 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 Centre (SMC), the Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA), the Sharjah Museums Department (SMD), Sharjah Tatweer Forum, Crescent Petroleum, Crescent Investment Group and Dana Gas.
The USA Regional Trade Centre (USARTC) was opened in Sharjah in 2012 as part of the efforts to boost bilateral cooperation between Sharjah and the USA. The USARTC will help enhance Sharjah’s position as a regional hub for US investment in the Middle East, attract U.S. companies to the region’s markets, and further boost the leading position of Sharjah as a destination of choice for business and investment.
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 around the globe.