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Sharjah's 68% Increase In Female Entrepreneurs Is One Of Many Signs Of The Emirate Becoming A Dynamic Startup Hub, Say SEF 2022 Panelists Titled "Marhaba: Welcome to Sharjah", the discussion was held on the Impact Stage and saw experts in tourism and business development discuss strategies for promoting Sharjah as a global destination.

By Entrepreneur Middle East Staff Edited by Aby Thomas

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One of many signs that Sharjah is becoming a dynamic startup hub is a 68% increase in female entrepreneurs within Sharjah's ecosystem, and this statistic was one of the key highlights of a panel discussion held during the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) 2022 that was organized by Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center between December 17 and 18 this year.

Titled "Marhaba: Welcome to Sharjah," the discussion was held on the Impact Stage and saw experts in tourism and business development discuss strategies for promoting Sharjah as a global destination. Among the speakers in the panel were Khaled Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), Mohammed Musharrakh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah, Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, Group CEO of Arada, Maryam Bin Al Shaikh, Director of the Sharjah Business Women Council, and Kareem Al Jisr, Chief Sustainability Officer of Diamond Developers. The session, moderated by multimedia broadcast journalist Abdul Karim Hanif, also saw the speakers discuss how successful strategies have led to the creation of a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sharjah.

Maryam Bin Al Shaikh, Director, Sharjah Business Women Council. Source: Sheraa

"Sharjah has had a 68% increase in female entrepreneurs recently and as the market grows and expands we will continue cultivating an environment that is inclusive and supportive," said Al Shaikh while discussing the specific role of women in the Emirate's business growth. "None of this would have been possible without the important role that people in the top level of government play and the support we have from HH Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness, the Ruler of Sharjah."

Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, Group CEO, Arada. Source: Sheraa

On his part, Alkhoshaibi also talked about the growth seen in Sharjah's property market in 2022 -over AED700 million were spent in property transactions in November alone- noting that 90% of the investments were made by foreign nationals. "Although the increase in purchases made by foreigners has been increasing year-on-year, the investment by locals has held steady and these numbers shouldn't be seen as a decrease in local investment but rather an example of how Sharjah is becoming an increasingly valued destination for the world," he said.

Al Midfa, on the other hand, stressed upon the importance of understanding the culture and history of Sharjah in order to effectively welcome and engage with visitors. He further added that more than 50% of the UAE's museums were located in the Emirate and that tourism made up over 12% of its GDP. "By embracing and sharing our culture and heritage, we can create a truly authentic and meaningful experience for visitors," Al Midfa added.

Khaled Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority. Source: Sheraa

Al Jisr then touched upon the role that Sharjah Sustainable City has had on the Emirate as a project partnered between Sharjah Investment and Development Authority(Shurooq) and Diamond Developers saying, "Sharjah Sustainable City is a home for new ideas and innovations, a place to innovate problem solving. We pride ourselves on being a place for early adopters and a living lab or "sandbox" for development. We provide a space of 67 hectares for entities and people to innovate and flourish."

Kareem Al Jisr, Chief Sustainability Officer, Diamond Developers. Source: Sheraa

The conversation also steered towards how tourism is rapidly growing in Sharjah. Al Midfa mentioned how, even though the city's population is around 1.5 million, it saw over 1.8 million people visiting and booking hotel rooms in 2022. "Sharjah has a population of over 200 nationalities, we have well diversified economies, we are a dynamic Emirate that provides a benchmark for innovation and that exceeds expectations time and time again," Al Midfa said. "We are a hub of possibilities with a strong authentic identity."

Mohammed Musharrakh, CEO, Invest in Sharjah. Source: Sheraa

Lauding the commitment of Sharjah and its government to provide unique and authentic experiences for both visitors and businesses was Musharrakh. "Invest in Sharjah plays a crucial role in facilitating this experience through our partnerships and collaborations with businesses and organizations, including the important work we do with Sheera and Sharjah Investors Services Center for example," Musharrakh said. "The turnout today by entrepreneurs and business people investing their weekend into SEF is a testament to the fact that our work is effectively attracting the next generation to our Emirate."

Related: Sharjah Media City (Shams) Launches Shams Valley To Build New Tech and Media Startups

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