The Emirate of Sharjah, usually known for its active role in the Arab cultural and artistic scene, is now en route to becoming leading hub for entrepreneurship and innovation. On January 16, 2016, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) launched Sheraa – Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center, the largest business incubation center in Sharjah. The center, located in the American University of Sharjah at University City, establishes itself as a focal point linking research centers, universities, academic institutions, the business sector and investors. During the official launch, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and Chairperson of Sheraa said: “History has shown that the future does not wait for anyone, we must go toward it”.
The UAE is no stranger to the entrepreneurship scene. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Development Institute (GEDI), the UAE ranked first among Arab countries in supporting entrepreneurship in 2016, and ranked 19th globally. Through Sheraa, the Emirate of Sharjah seeks to position itself as an incubator of entrepreneurship and business innovation.
Najla E., the Marketing and Outreach Manager of Sheraa told Barakabits, that Sheraa exists to “inspire, teach, accelerate and grow start-ups of all nationalities, whether Emarati or non-Emariti. We will teach them via coding workshops, startup bootcamps, and much more! We will also accelerate via our 3-month hackathons, where we will provide mentorship and guidance along the way. And, finally, giving them a platform to pitch their idea to investors.”
According to Najla, being located in a university distinguishes Sheraa and makes it accessible to a talented school of more than 6,000 students who can access the hub and network in the co-working space. Although currently focused on students, alumni and faculty of the American University of Sharjah, the center is also open to all in the UAE.
A number of programs will soon be rolled out to hunt for aspiring innovators to create the next wave of entrepreneurs in Sharjah.
So keep an eye on that state! And don’t forget to smile!