Sheikha Bodour for support to SMES
Unveils ‘Arab Supply Chain Impact Initiative’ to support the creation of sustainable economies
SHARJAH: As the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) continues to take over major business challenges and discussions across the world, the ‘Building Digital Economies in the Arab World’ summit in Sharjah, organised by the Regional Business Council (RBC) in the Middle East and North Africa, in association with the World Economic Forum (WEF), takes a regional lead in addressing how joint leadership across Mena can build stronger economies, steer young people towards and entrepreneurship and shape the course of the 4IR.
Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), and the Chairperson of RBC, took the lead by unveiling the newest initiative, the ‘Arab Supply Chain’, and shared her vision to more than 90 brilliant minds representing numerous businesses across the globe.
The initiative, which will require a voluntary business commitment to early-stage businesses by the RBC members, who will allocate 10 per cent of procurement spend annually to entrepreneurs and SMES by 2020, aims to function as a direct support to small and medium-sized businesses (SMES) in Mena, who make up at least 90 per cent of the companies operating in in the overall region.
It also aims to facilitate the overall growth of these companies, which are key catalysts to creating jobs, diversifying economies, boosting innovation, and provide established companies with the flexibility and knowledge they need to expand their businesses.
Sheikha Bodour during her welcome address at the summit, said: “We are here today to discuss what I think, we would all agree, is one of our region’s greatest challenge, how to build future economies in the Arab world? More precisely, how can we build digital economies that are rapidly being shaped by the fourth industrial revolution technologies?”
Highlighting the fact that the Middle East is teeming with human capital and in love with the online world, she underscored that this needs to be leveraged by the region to move beyond online towards the digital economy and technologies in the realm of 4IR.
“Here in the emirate of Sharjah, we are doing just that. This has led to the creation of the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park was recently launched in conjunction with the American University of Sharjah. It provides a free zone ecosystem that serves to cultivate industry–academia partnerships to apply 4IR technology in critical areas for the region, including the pursuit of sustainable energy and water resources, combatting climate change and building integrated transport systems,” Sheikha Bodour outlined.
“The Park is a Launchpad for pioneering entrepreneurs in Sharjah, the UAE and the broader Middle East region, helping to transform them from job seekers into job creators, and supporting the goals of initiatives such as Sheraa, the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center, which seeks to create the next wave of ground-breaking young innovators. Through these kind of facilities, we are supporting innovators and entrepreneurs – not only in Sharjah but across the UAE and the wider region,” she added.
The summit was attended by Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, Minister of State for Higher Education & Advanced Skills in the UAE; Her Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences in the UAE; Mariam Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Food Security in the UAE; Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar; Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of WEF; Mirek Dusek Head of Regional Strategies – Middle East and North Africa, Member of the Executive Committee, WEF; Arif Naqvi, Founder and Group Chief Executive, Abraaj Group; Badr Jafar, CEO of Sharjah’s Crescent Enterprises; Majid Hamid Jafar, CEO of Crescent. Petroleum, and numerous leading economic experts covering numerous fields of business across the region.
Among the leading economic experts were members of “The Forum’s” Regional Business Council (RBC), made up of business leaders from about 40 leading companies from the MENASA region the Global Future Councils, and some of the world’s most influential business leaders, policy makers and entrepreneurs, who capitalised on the forum’s significant opportunity to identify and examine challenges posed in what is a new era of development.
Klaus Schwab: Practical Solutions to Flourishing Digital Economies of the Arab World.
The evening’s proceedings began with a note by Professor Klaus Schwab, who said: “I am visiting Sharjah for the first time and I am fascinated. What I see around me today is a fantastic representation of our stakeholder group – politicians, business leaders, civil society and, most importantly, the young generation. We have to engage the young generation if we want to see any kind of progress in the world, digital or otherwise.”
Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi during her welcome address at the event.