The emirate of Sharjah attracted foreign direct investment worth $220 million in 24 projects last year despite the pandemic-induced economic slowdown, according to a study by market intelligence firm Wavteq.
There was a 60 per cent increase in the number of FDI projects in Sharjah between the third and fourth quarters of 2020, the study found.
The investment, channelled into e-commerce, health and medical research, and personal protective equipment, led to the creation of 1,117 new jobs in Sharjah, according to Wavteq's report for the emirate's FDI office, Invest in Sharjah.
“The Covid-19 outbreak caused global FDI to shrink between 21 per cent and 61 per cent,” Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, chief executive of Invest in Sharjah, said.
However, the pandemic has "taught us the competitive advantage of adaptability, which will continue to inform the manner in which IIS would leverage future investment trends", he said.
Job opportunities in the emirate's medical equipment manufacturing sector increased by 53.4 per cent, and in life sciences by 45.4 per cent, the highest since 2012, the report said. It predicts further investment in these areas in 2021, forecasting a 74 per cent FDI increase in life sciences in Sharjah over the next 12 months and a 55.6 per cent increase in the ICT sector.
Other sectors likely to attract more FDI over the next year include food and agriculture, logistics and distribution, and cleaning technology.
Mr Al Musharrkh said 2020 also taught Invest in Sharjah, part of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, to focus on small and medium-sized enterprises, start-ups and emerging innovation-based businesses.
The investment promotion agency organised panel discussions and roundtables with businesses from South Korea, India, China, the US, Austria and Italy to explore investment prospects and challenges as well as to share stories of foreign businesses which have expanded from Sharjah to regional and global markets.
In November last year, Sharjah boosted the total value of its economic stimulus to almost Dh1 billion by rolling out a second stimulus package worth Dh512 million to help the economy cope with the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The measures included waiving, reducing or cancelling fees related to utilities, rent, business procedures, property, education, ports and shipping, SMEs, transportation and civil aviation.