We are excited to share our interview with UAE gold magnate Mr. Amran Al Sharhan; previous global shaper for the world economic forum and now the founder of Leaf Precious Metals, UAE’s leading online store for gold and precious metals.
Whilst asking questions about UAE’s growth, we had the pleasure to also discuss the perks of being an UAE entrepreneur, bitcoin and sustainability.
Q1) Let’s start with you Mr. Al Sharhan! What would you say have been some key events in your life that have led you to where you are today?
Thank you Maja! It is a pleasure being interviewed by FinancEvents and to share my thoughts and experiences with you. I believe life responds to our passions and ambitions in a way that is unexpected. The global financial crisis of 2008 was an eye opener for many of us. It led me into a journey of building a better understanding of the global economy, where it’s possibly heading, and exciting future economic trends that are taking shape.
One of the most interesting trends that attracted me as an investor and an entrepreneur was the growing importance of gold as a safe haven to preserve wealth. As you know, gold has existed as money for thousands of years. Central Banks across the world today still hold gold in their reserves! That is to manage risk, hedge against inflation and ensure stability and growth for their economies. I believe as individuals we should also be holding gold for the same reasons. My intuition led me to establish Leaf Precious Metals, to raise awareness on the importance of holding physical gold and silver in the UAE. It should be part of everyone’s portfolio.
Q2) What are the 5 most important business events during the UAE calendar year in your opinion?
The UAE was able to successfully establish itself as a global hub for events. It has an eventful calendar all year around across multiple sectors including sports, tech, business and cultural events. Furthermore, there are permanent exhibition spaces being utilizes annually such as the Dubai World Trade Centre, Expo Centre in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. One of the most successful global events being held annually will take place in February 2021 and that is Gulfood. That’s the world’s largest annual food and beverage trade exhibition. Some of the biggest food companies, innovators and leaders gather and share their products and services. Another upcoming major event is in the area of technology, Gitex 2021. This is an event where 100,000s of tech experts, innovators, entrepreneurs and government officials attend and explore the latest trends and innovations.
Interesting! Any more international events we should pinpoint to our calendars?
A much anticipated global event that was scheduled for 2020, but got delayed due to the ongoing pandemic, is Exp2020. The remaining two are the International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Technologies and the Future Blockchain Summit. Of course, there are many other business-related events taking place in 2021 that are not less important. They are listed on the official www.u.ae website.
The UAE has gone through a very accelerated growth curve, some say it has entered a crisis. We however believe that, thanks to its Government structure and size, the UAE will quickly adapt to the changing times and propel forward at a higher speed and with forward thinking policies.
Q3) What do you think are the key policies that will propel the growth of the next 10-20 years of the UAE economy?
We have an agile government and leadership here in the UAE that has proven to be capable of adapting, innovating and identifying new opportunities while facing challenges and new realms. The government, through its forward thinking policies, has taken many decisions in the past that turned out to be quite fruitful today.
One example is the economic diversification that we have seen take place over the past two decades away from relying solely on oil revenues. As a result, the impacts of the oil prices market crash on the UAE economy were considerably lower relative to neighboring countries. Despite that, the UAE economy did contract like most economies around the world post-covid19 and there are real economic challenges to deal with in the short-term.
Could you name some key strengths that will help UAE face these economic challenges?
When looking at the future of the UAE economy, it is worth noting several key strengths of the UAE that will aid in its rapid recovery and ensure continuous economic growth. Firstly, the UAE’s strategic location between Europe, Africa and Asia makes it the ideal hub for traders across continents, and the UAE government has heavily invested in infrastructure projects and seaports to strengthen this position. Secondly, the UAE has a strong banking sector and financial reserves as well as one of the top 5 largest Sovereign Wealth Funds (ADIA). Thirdly, the UAE was able to create an excellent business environment for global investors and was ranked as one of the top 20 most promising investor home economies, according to an UNCTAD World Investment Report 2020.
Q3) On the subject of excellent business environment, is there any special treats for entrepreneurs or start-ups wanting to establish in UAE?
The UAE has created a number of multi-specialty free zones. The zones offer many economic incentives for entrepreneurs and companies to establish their offices while being exempted from corporate taxes, import/export duties and with full foreign ownership. The establishment of free zones in addition to other attractive economic incentives provided for foreign companies, including start-ups, has contributed to making the UAE an ideal place to do business. According to the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2020, the UAE was ranked 9th, ahead of countries such as the United States of America, Germany and UK. Moreover, the UAE was ranked 4th in economic performance, 3rd in Government Efficiency and 7th in Business Efficiency in the same report.
How about sustainability?
Sure, the UAE is not only working on improving the ease of doing business, but is also taking the lead in building sustainable models of green economy with a focus on renewable energy and autonomous transportation. For example, the Dubai government has released a new strategy that aims to transform 25% of the total transportation in Dubai to autonomous mode by 2030. In summary, the key policies include creating the ideal environment for foreign investors, investing in big infrastructure and green economy projects as well as focusing on sustainable development and innovation. The UAE government has recently announced “designing the next 50 years” project, where every community in the UAE will contribute in co-designing the next 50 years and shaping the future of the nation.
Q4) Why would an entrepreneur in 2021 move or start his business in the UAE?
Starting a new business in the UAE has never been easier. We have an ecosystem that promotes innovation and a government that has prioritized the support of SMEs and entrepreneurship. Post covid-19 has led to the reduction of many fees and the inclusion of many incentives. This means now is the ideal time to start a new business! Moreover, the UAE already has many entrepreneurs and well-established companies that are operating in strategic innovation hubs and free zone areas. They have been provided with offices and the necessary space to work and collaborate with others, while having all their business requirements met.
Q5) Let’s jump to another very hot topic! What is the vibe about Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain in the UAE? And what is your personal opinion?
The UAE right now is in the final phase of developing and announcing new laws and regulations for cryptocurrencies. The government realizes the future and potential of cryptocurrencies as a new market and seeks to attract some of the biggest players into the region. At the same time, the UAE realizes all the risks associated with cryptocurrency investments and will arrange the necessary environment to protect investors as the new sector is highly volatile.
Q6) Our final question: among the people you know, who’s interview would you want to read next and why?
Khalid Al Huraimal, CEO of Bee’ah. He has achieved a lot in the area of sustainable solutions.
Thank you Mr Al Sharhan for your time with us, it will not be forgotten!
The UAE continues being a hotspot for entrepreneurs and businesses and keeps being known for rapid development and success. We can’t wait to see what the next few years has to bring.
Maja Säholm Westling