By Gavin Gibbon
Over one-third of budget earmarked for economic development, with a particular focus on spurring economic growth in the emirate
Sharjah has announced a AED29.1 billion ($7.9bn) budget for 2020, up two percent from 2019, with a strong emphasis on investing in the emirate’s infrastructure.
In what is considered the largest budget in the history of Sharjah, around one third has been allocated to infrastructure development, an increase of ten percent on last year’s figure.
A further 36 percent of the general budget has been earmarked for economic development, with a particular focus on spurring economic growth in the emirate.
While about 24 percent of the general budget has been set aside for social development, a one percent increase over the 2019 budget, dedicated for the support of scientific, cultural and heritage services in order to stimulate creativity, innovation and research and development.
Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, ruler of Sharjah, said: "Stimulating economic growth lies at the heart of this year’s budget as a strategic priority to enhance Sharjah's economic appeal regionally and globally.
“The aim is to ensure financial stability and improve the emirate's competitiveness by providing a business-friendly environment for local and international investors, and help in the growth of the tourism sector across various fields, including cultural, historical, therapeutic, and recreational tourism.
“This is coupled with unrelenting efforts to keep macroeconomic performance indicators in line with international standards, including control of inflation rates and rationalising government spending.”
Capital projects accounted for 23 percent of the total budget with a view to strengthening infrastructure, including the development and improvement of the roads network, tunnels, and other primary facilities.
The revenues of independent entities are set to grow by one percent in 2020 compared to 2019; while social assistance accounts for 13 percent of the 2020 general budget, which is forecast to create 500 jobs for Emiratis.
Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, CEO of Arada - the developer behind the emirate's $6.5bn mega-project - said the budget will help support developers in Sharjah to meet the demand from buyers.
“The announcement of yet another record budget for Sharjah is a significant boost for the private sector," said Alkhoshaibi.
"As a developer, we are particularly encouraged to see a healthy increase in infrastructure and capital projects spending. That investment will continue to support the impressive demand we are currently seeing in Sharjah’s real estate sector, one of the best performing in the Middle East,” he added.