of MENA investment is concentrated in startups that link consumers to healthcare providers and insurance
of all VC investment in the UAE is concentrated in novel farming and aquaculture due to increased attention towards food security
Sharjah has established itself as one of the most powerful business hubs in the Arab region. Strategically located between Asia, Europe and Africa, the city acts as a landing pad for entrepreneurs and investors alike, especially given its proximity to some of the world’s fastest growing economies in Asia. As the most diverse economy in the UAE, Sharjah possesses a robust infrastructure, built on the principles of economic diversity and innovation. It is hailed as a bastion of the creative economy, with additional strengths in sectors such as logistics and transportation, environmental sustainability, and tourism.
Another key advantage is affordability, with a lower cost of living and doing business. Sharjah also houses a critical mass of talented human capital, with its University City being home to over 30,000 students. With multidisciplinary offerings and an emphasis on R&D, innovation, and commercialization, Sharjah’s top universities offer entrepreneurs access to the best and bright minds in the region. This is complemented by the continued development of freezones such as the Sharjah Research, Technology, and Innovation Park (SRTIP), Sharjah Media City (Shams), and the Sharjah Publishing City (SPC), which provide competitive licensing rates and 100 percent foreign ownership.
The city is also home to entrepreneurship support centers such as Sheraa, which has developed a full suite of programs that guide entrepreneurs from idea through to being seed-ready— helping them refine their value proposition, build and test their MVP, and ultimately achieve product-market fit. We provide founders with non-dilutive capital in the form of equity-free grants of up to $100k, while also helping them develop a fundraising strategy and introducing them to key stakeholders and investors. To date, Sheraa has supported over 100 startups that have raised over $70MM in investment, generated over $81MM in revenue, and created over 1300 jobs.
Beyond programmatic support, Sheraa has formed strong partnerships with both corporate and government entities in order to further enhance the connectivity and cohesiveness of the ecosystem. We are proud to have founding partners such as Bee’ah, Air Arabia, and Crescent Enterprises, who have begun to incorporate innovation into their DNA and are embracing opportunities to meaningfully engage with startups.
Additionally, Sheraa hosts the annual Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SharjahEF). The Festival attracts over 3,000 attendees – primarily young changemakers – and has featured world-renowned speakers such as Gary Vaynerchuk, Chairman of VaynerX, Arlan Hamilton, founder of Backstage Capital, and Magnuss Olsson, Co-Founder of Careem, to name but a few. Our mission with the Festival is to inspire the next generation of global entrepreneurs, instilling in them the courage and confidence to build impactful businesses through not just global inspirational stories but also real-world skillbuilding and the power of community.
These collective efforts to enhance the entrepreneurship landscape – guided by entities like Sheraa – are what have led to Sharjah being named the top High-Growth ecosystem in the Activation Phase in Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER), which points to the emirate’s growing reputation on the global entrepreneurship stage.
Last but not least, another advantage is Sharjah’s dedication to culture and family life. The city boasts top-tier private and public schools and universities, family-friendly destinations ranging from dozens of museums to tourist getaways such as Mleiha or the Kingfisher Retreat, as well as a dedication its people young and old.
With these foundations in place, Sharjah continues to mark itself as an attractive hub for entrepreneurs, and as a great city for founders to both live and work.