SEDD in 2019: Distinguished Achievements and Initiatives
Sharjah Economic Development Department “SEDD” achieved many achievements and accomplishments in 2019. Also, it has implemented different events, in addition to launching significant and important initiatives in which it was able to develop various services provided. Such thing was done in order to contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of the Emirate of Sharjah and its status as an important investment destination in the region and an attractive environment for conducting business, as well as empowering its leadership role in strengthening the national economy based on innovation and sustainability.
Commenting on that, HE Sultan Abdullah bon Hadda Al Suwaidi, SEDD Chairman, stated that 2019 witnessed many achievements and initiatives since the beginning of the year until now. All of this reflects the wise vision and directions of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council member and Ruler of Sharjah, whom calls for adopting sustainable development of the Emirate's economy.
Likely, he pointed out that Sharjah’s
GDP exceeded the barrier of one hundred billion dirhams, with a growth rate of 5.1% at current prices, and the general production in the emirate exceeded 170 billion dirhams, with a growth of 4.3%, and the size of fixed capital formation amounted to more than 25 billion dirhams and with an increase in the volume of public investment by 4.1%. Wages payments also increased in the last census of national accounts by 4%, and the wages of manufacturing industries grew by 3.1%. A number of sectors recorded remarkable growth in wages rates in the emirate such as the transport and storage sectors by 4.6% and the financial and insurance activities sector at a rate of 4.4%. Likewise, the sector of activities of residence and food services hit 4.3% and the information and communications sector by 4.2% as the wage index indicates the existence of development and demand projects in the economy. The capital formation in the emirate also increased from 17.9 billion dirhams in the year 2010 and gradually increased until it reached its maximum height of about 30 billion dirhams in the last census of national accounts.
These data indicate that there is a noticeable increase in the investment movement in the existing projects, and these indicators come as evidence of sustainable growth of the economy of the Emirate of Sharjah, and these figures reflect the confidence of business sectors in the investment opportunities available in the emirate. His Excellency indicated that the results of the emirate’s business, including issuance and renewal of business licenses, are in line with the general growth in the GDP that the Emirate of Sharjah recently registered. Also, he stressed that SEDD’s digital services are part of the it’s initiatives to simplify procedures, reduce time and provide services to reach the aspirations of customers, and to offer wider opportunities and options to complete their transactions.
From his side, Fahad Ahmed Al Kimiri, Director of Registration and Licensing Department at SEDD said that Sharjah economic development indicators achieved remarkable growth in the year 2019. The number of licenses issued reached 5241 licenses with a growth rate of 10%, while the number of renewed licenses increased to 64,386 licenses in 2019 with an increase of 0.3%. This indicates that there is a positive indicator for investor acceptance in the emirate and the growth of the economy in its various sectors.
The data issued by the Department revealed that the commercial licenses topped the issued licenses with a number of 3127 licenses with a growth rate of 3%, followed by professional licenses with a rate of 1599 licenses and a growth of 23%. With regard to industrial licenses, the number of licenses amounted to about 184 licenses with growth rates of 6%, while the accreditation license reached 304 licenses and an increase rate of about 22% in the year 2019. It is worth mentioning that e-licenses have received a large turnout since its issuance, where it reached 27 licenses by the end of 2019.
In the context of the geographical distribution of economic activities, Al Khamiri pointed out that the total number of issued and renewed licenses in the main branch increased to 1873 in 2019. While the license rates in the Department Branch in the industrial area increased to 2228 licenses for this year. Likely, issued and renewed licenses in the same year have grown significantly in the branches of the department distributed in the central and eastern regions in the cities of Al Dhaid, Khor Fakkan, Kalba and Dibba Al Hisn reached 654, 243, 209 and 34 respectively. These rates indicate the Department’s interest in providing customers and investors in all regions of the emirate with all their services with high quality according to the required and approved international standards.
Al Khamiri pointed out that the percentage of transactions through digital services and across service centers, which reached 17 centers, which achieved 22% growth during the year 2019. This confirms SEDD’s success in the process of digital transformation, which reached 100% this year for the procedures in order to provide all the facilities and provide many channels to complete the transactions as quickly as possible in order to promote investments and achieve sustainable economic development in the emirate. It should be noted that the percentage of transactions completed through the service of the smart investor and service centers "Amaal" achieved a growth of 66% in the same year.
Salim Al Suwaidi, Deputy Director of Commercial Control and Protection Department at SEDD, stated that the Department always seeks to enhance the consumer culture, through an ideal commercial environment with a high culture of awareness and neutrality in the procedures of buying and selling in all economic sectors, followed by the highest international standards and practices. He also stressed that SEDD is keen on to address these complaints as soon as possible in implementation of its strategy calling for improving the satisfaction of the customers and the main partners by adopting best practices in procedures and quality systems. All of this aim to develop performance, and comes in implementation of the Department's strategy for improving performance and dealing with complaints as quickly as possible.
In addition, Salim Al Suwaidi said that the number of complaints received by the Sharjah Economic Department reached 4,088 complaints during the year 2019. In this regard, consumer protection complaints topped that amounted to 3,317 complaints, which were received by the Department of 2018, followed by commercial fraud complaints with 454 complaints, while complaints of the service agent reached 317 Complaint in 2019. He emphasized that the remarkable increase in the numbers of consumer protection complaints is an evidence of SEDD success for its efforts in educating consumers and investors of their rights and duties. He also explained that the activity of cars and its spare parts came at the forefront of consumer protection complaints in 2019 and by 27% of the total consumer protection complaints, followed by an activity of electrical tools and building materials with a rate of 13%. Additionally, mobile phones and electronics, which reached 12%, and furniture activity, at 8% of the total number of complaints for the mentioned period, while the rest of the complaints shared the rest of the remaining rates. It is worth noting that the closed complaints rate reached 96% of the total complaints submitted to the Department in the year.
Furthermore, Salim Al Suwaidi referred that such growth is due to the increasing level of awareness among consumers as a result of the awareness campaigns carried out by the Department that target all groups of society in the various cities and regions of the emirate, in order to make them aware of their rights and duties. Also, he clarifies that it important for people to communicate with SEDD in the event of their exposure to post-purchase problems, and stressed on the need for consumers to maintain the purchase invoice, which is a reference for them and the guarantor of their rights in case they want to file a complaint. He added that the Department provides many channels to receive complaints, where SEDD receives complaints through the Call Center on 80080000 or communicate via Sharjaheconomic social channels, or by visiting the consumer protection website www.shjconsumer.ae. This is considered as part of the active participation in protecting the markets, reporting the cases of violation until the necessary measures are taken against them.
Moreover, he stressed that educating consumers about their rights is one of the mechanisms to provide protection for them. This knowledge of rights and duties is the most important way to build organized and modern markets, as a culture of consumer rights is spread and established in local markets whether among shoppers or commercial companies in various sectors. He also indicated that awareness campaigns are important to spread in an interactive way and innovative media on a large scale in various commercial facilities, ranging from shopping malls to the traditional commercial markets.
Industrial Sector, An Important Economic Component
Mariam Al Suwaidi, Deputy Director of Industrial Affairs Department at SEDD, emphasized that the Department was keen to develop a map of industrial investment in the emirate in cooperation with the concerned government agencies seeking to attract more investments to the emirate. He stressed the absolute commitment of the Department to adopt best practices that will create a competitive environment to attract and attract investments to Sharjah. Such thing helps in moving towards sustainable economic growth and building a productive economy in accordance with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to develop the industrial environment in the emirate.
Likely, Mariam Al Suwaidi pointed out that the industrial growth in the emirate is in line with the economic diversification process in the country, where small and medium enterprises play a very important part of the diversity system, which is the largest of the global economies. In addition, the emirate of Sharjah provides a safe and stable environment for business, encouraging many foreign investors to work which encourages many foreign investors to work in the emirate, and opening branches to launch its business in the region. The Emirate is keen to establish a clear vision of sustainability as the basis for all new development projects in the Emirate of Sharjah.
Supporting Entrepreneurs in Central and Eastern Regions:
From his side, Khalfan Al Huraithi, Director of the Branches Department in SEDD, illustrated that SEDD works extensively in supporting investment projects in the Central and Eastern Regiona, especially with regard to national and entrepreneur projects, as the department is keen to launch several initiatives that will enhance and diversify the business environment in Sharjah. All of this is happened extensively after opening Khor Fakkan new Road, which extends along 89 km from the Emirates Transit Street in Sharjah to Wadi Shi Square and the accompanying development and construction projects. These projects will contribute to facilitating and accelerating movement, and enhancing the volume of investments for Khor Fakkan and the Eastern Region in various sectors.
198 Training Programs, 1654 Beneficiaries
Abdullah Al Mahmoud, Director of Support Services, said: “The Emiratisation rate in SEDD increased to 94% at the end of the year 2019, as part of its endeavor to increase the Emiratisation rate in SEDD year after year, as the department works to translate the guidance of good leadership to provide an environment”.
Al Mahmoud indicated that SEDD carried out 198 training programs during the year 2019, in which more than 1654 participants participated, distributed over 107 external programs benefiting 352 participants while 91 internal programs benefited 1302 participants. The Department provides many training programs, including leadership programs that aim to develop the skills, competencies and capabilities of leaders to transfer their knowledge and expertise, and provide the necessary ways and means to motivate and encourage working cadres with the aim to develop their skills and increase their expertise to develop performance levels.
Also, Al Mahmoud clarified that Emiratization, employment and training programs are ambitious, attracting talent and diversity by appointment between the youth component of both genders, and reached an advanced stage in coordination with the Human Resources Department. It should be noted that the Department succeeded extensively in hiring cadres with good qualifications to enhance the strategy of the department and preserving the distinguished and elite cadres of employees who in turn contribute to enhancing government performance within the highest international levels.
For her part, Amal Habash, Deputy Director of Commercial Affairs in SEDD, explained: "We are working in the Economic Development Department in Sharjah to empower male and female citizens of owners of projects and small and medium enterprises, to achieve success in national business leadership in the country in all economic sectors." She pointed out that SEDD is keen to set up exhibitions for entrepreneurs with the aim of supporting national projects and encouraging them between different groups and involving them together, to exchange experiences and achieve cooperation among them. In addition, she illustrated that SEDD is also working on developing the path of commercial excellence through the "Excellence" mark for national entrepreneurial projects. This mark is given for domestic licenses in the emirate, based on the accomplishments that are achieved and which confirm the clear vision for the future, and spread the concepts of commercial excellence in the business community in the Emirate of Sharjah.
Speaking of “Bairq” license for students, Amal Habash said that SEDD coordinates with the Higher colleges of Technology to provide a business incubator for them to practice their economic activities. This will help students to join the market and will make them qualified in the future.
Commercial Companies Contracts
Hamad Al Midfa, Deputy Director of Legal Affairs Department at SEDD, said that the launch of ratification of commercial companies’ contracts such as memorandum of association, sales contracts, annexes, and waivers, contributed to facilitating procedures for the ratification of contracts for investors. The investors can apply for the service at any time of the day, and the degree of safety in the service is high given the inability to complete the process is without identity matching. Also, the waiting time that the investor will spend on applying for the transaction is reduced.
Internal and external partnerships
Abdelaziz Omar Al Midfa, Deputy Director of Government Communication Department at SEDD, said that SEDD established partnerships with local and international institutions and federal agencies to enhance the emirate's economic position and contribute to achieving sustainable development in the country. Strategic partnerships include those that have been established within the framework of strengthening partnerships with federal entities, national banks, academic institutions and leading companies in the UAE with the aim of exchanging information and experiences, in addition to developing plans that encourage investment in the emirate in particular and in the country in general.
Abdelaziz Al Midfa stated that SEDD participated within UAE delegation for the second session of the mutual economic committee between UAE and Hungary to discuss ways of cooperation in the economic and commercial fields. Also, it aimed at discussing opportunities and challenges and exchange information on the most important sectors targeted for their development, and opportunities for partnerships that serve the development goals between the two parties.
He added that SEDD participated in the country's delegation to Hong Kong in the People's Republic of China with the Ministry of Economy. This participation aimed to review the opportunities available to increase trade and investment exchanges, especially in the sectors related to innovation and small and medium enterprises, which are among the most important sectors of mutual interest between the two countries. Also, SEDD in keen to take part in such tours organized by the Ministry of Economy and other government and federal agencies in the country in order to shed light on the privileges owned by the Emirate of Sharjah from a privileged location and a stimulating environment for investment and conducting business.
Moreover, SEDD participated in UAE’s delegation to the second meeting of the working group tasked with promoting cooperation in the fields of industry, investment and innovation, between UAE and the Russian Federation, which is organized by the Ministry of Energy and Industry. The visit aimed to look through opportunities, challenges, and information exchange on the most important sectors targeted for development, and chances for partnerships that serve the development goals between the two parties.
Also, SEDD participated within the delegation in the Air Arabia delegation on their first flight from Sharjah to Vienna, the capital of Austria. The delegation included a number of officials, businessmen and other investment companies in the emirate of Sharjah. This participation comes within SEDD’s concerns to discuss ways of cooperation in the economic and trade fields between the two countries, discuss opportunities and challenges, exchange information on the most important sectors targeted for development, as well as look through the opportunities for establishing partnerships that serve the development goals between the two parties.
Keeping Pace with advanced Technology and Technical Services
Also, SEDD paid attention to promoting technical and investment environment in the Department and converting many services to electronic and digital. This is done to raise the level of efficiency of the services management system, as the Department launched many services and technical packages that contributed to developing the overall economy and attracting investors to the emirate during 2019, which included linking with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, UAE Pass, and run your business platform and others.
Ali Al Naqbi, Deputy Director of Information Technology Department at SEDD, revealed that the Department is continuously striving to promote sophistication and excellence in providing its services with various sectors. He added that such thing made SEDD launch many services digitally to customers, in order to reach the best solutions and innovative mechanisms for speed and accuracy in completing transactions.
HE said that the year 2019 witnessed the inauguration of a number of technical packages, where a link has been made with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship. This partnership aimed to facilitate work procedures for customers and employees, as the link with the authority is at the level of investor data, so that details of it appear once the ID number or unified number is entered. For example, when registering a new investor there is no need to enter his data manually, as the data is called from the system of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship. Likewise, when the investor requests a statement about his possession or lack of licenses, a one-time password is sent to the phone number registered in the ID to verify his identity before issuing the statement to him without having to take any additional steps or personally come to the Department to request the document.
In addition, Al Naqbi added that last year witnessed a link with the unified national identity of the UAE Pass, which is a unified digital identity, enabling investors and customers to enter the digital services of government agencies in the country through one identifier.
The customer links the investor number with the Emirates Pass identifier so that he/she can view and control all the licenses, and also enables to use all the digital services available at the Department. The investor can implement the legal affairs procedures as memorandum of association, license cancellation, as well as initial and final amendment without the need for personal presence,
Regarding the platform “run your business”, Al Naqbi stressed that the service allows investors to establish companies in the UAE electronically (remotely) via an integrated electronic platform integrated with local and federal government entities and agencies concerned with licensing economic activities in the country within minutes only using a fast, easy and safe procedure, and without visiting the branches. Likely, SEDD updated “run your business” to its second version, which contains a wider range of business activities. He also added the service of renewing commercial licenses, the facility card, work permits, the membership of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the facility number.
Al Naqbi indicated that SEDD launched some services through text messages, desiring to facilitate the use of some digital services, where the investor sends a short text message to the Department’s phone number. This message contains a word indicating the required service in addition to the license number. The Department makes a response with a link containing the payment screen. Once the payment is done, the transaction is completed. In this case, the customer does not need to use the site or digital services or come to the Department to complete his/her transaction.
Moreover, Al Naqbi clarified that SEDD adopted the strategy of developing system and applications internally through its distinguished human cadres and the use of latest technologies and methods. Also, the IT Department always carries out research, development and comparisons to reach the best and most appropriate international technologies.
Promoting Excellence and Innovative Culture
From her side, Hanadi Al Muhairi, Director of Strategic Planning and Performance Department, appreciated the efforts of all employees and their keenness to provide factors and conditions to achieve quality practices in different departments. Also, she praised their commitment and keenness to accomplish the required tasks in this regard, which qualified the Department to achieve its desired goals of the quality system and the provision of the latest training and qualification techniques to employees, to contribute to achieve the objectives of SEDD and provide the best possible service to customers.
Furthermore, she stressed that the SEDD follows the policy of dealing with customer feedback and provided multiple channels of communication to meet the requirements of all segments of customers and ensure that their complaints and observations are dealt with in an efficient and flexible manner in line with the culture of excellence.
Moreover, Al Muhairi added that SEDD is working to provide a healthy work environment for its employees whom are characterized by institutional loyalty and the spirit of creativity and innovation. She clarified that such thing is important for supporting the process of institutional development and enhancing performance and motivate employees to adopt innovative tools that raise the levels of outstanding performance and contribute to the development of services that improve the experience of customers.
Empowering omen Economically
Noura bin Sandal, Deputy Director of Planning and Economic Studies Department at SEDD, confirmed that SEDD pays great attention to preparing and implementing the economic plans of the emirate, conducting studies and developing investment systems that support businesspersons. Likely, it works to provide the best climate for investment by simplifying procedures and facilitating them for investors, providing women with the developments and requirements of entrepreneurship in a competitive work environment and enhancing their skills and capabilities in the field of entrepreneurship. She added that SEDD works to empower women economically as productive forces to achieve the goals of sustainable development and transform them into policies, plans and methodologies to enter the world of trade, production and manufacturing. Also, it seeks to provide the necessary facilities for them to start special projects that act as a safety valve for them and their families. She also emphasized that Emirati women have taken a major role in all fields that they work in. In addition, Noura bin Sandal pointed out that women contributes to strengthening the economic situation all over the world, and there is an urgent need for more effective participation in this field, pointing out that the Department organized a workshop entitled "The Emirati Experience for Empowering Women Economically" at which number of entities and leaders attended from different sectors.