SHAMS: Making creative entrepreneurship accessible

Shihab Al Hammadi, Authority Director
Shihab Al Hammadi, Authority Director

Sharjah Media City (Shams) aims to nurture a collaborative ecosystem. Excerpts from an interview with Shihab Al Hammadi, Authority Director



What are the main advantages of doing business at your free zone?
Over the years, we have witnessed a significant rise in the number of free zones within the UAE that cater to specific sectors such as healthcare, science, manufacturing and others.
At Sharjah Media City (Shams), our key focus area is to be a hub for media and creativity in the region. We are in the process of nurturing a collaborative ecosystem at the Free Zone by hosting events, trainings and other initiatives which bring like-minded people together.
We make business setup quick and hassle free, so that entrepreneurs can focus on their business journey. Some of the ways we do this is by reducing the cost of entry into the market through cost-effective solutions, offering free workshops and training sessions for various fields and offering companies registered within Shams the opportunity to present themselves at exhibitions and events free of cost.

What are the incentives provided by you for existing and new businesses to start operations post-Covid?
We are consistently working towards easing the burden faced by prospective and existing entrepreneurs due to the crisis. Some of initiatives have included waiving penalties and fines for companies unable to pay for their renewals on time, reducing the cost of some of our licences by 50 per cent, introducing a Freelancer Licence for media professionals in the market and offering various discounts and waivers on our existing fees.
What helps our clients further is that our services are digitised and can be availed from the comfort of one's home. For certain services which require documents to be submitted physically, we have partnered with DHL to offer free document pick-up and drop off services.

Which are the key sectors represented in the free zone?
Sharjah Media City (Shams), like its name suggests, is focused on the media sector and nurturing the media ecosystem in the region. However, Shams caters to a wide range of business sectors that are required to make it a self-sustaining city. We offer service, trading and industrial licences, which cover a wide range of business activities.

How will digitisation lead to growth in the future?
The Covid-19 crisis has shed light on the need for all businesses to bolster their digital capabilities. Businesses during this time which have had a significant digital presence have done better than others who were unable to adapt to the new reality. In our Free Zone itself, we are witnessing a surge in demand for licences dealing with e-commerce, web portals and other digital-focused activities.

What is your long-term vision for your free zone?
Our vision is to be a world-class hub for media and creativity in the region. We aim to fulfil this by making creative entrepreneurship accessible and by fostering a vibrant and connected ecosystem for innovators to live, learn and co-create. Shams has come a long way since its inception in 2017 and has successfully nurtured several businesses ideas and media initiatives thus far.

World-class media hub
Sharjah Media City (Shams) was launched in January 2017 in Sharjah to be a world-class media hub for innovative facilities and services. Shams fosters a vibrant and connected ecosystem for innovators to live, learn and co-create. The free zone aims to develop and nurture young talents by offering creative workspace and continuously hosting workshops and training to enrich a wide range of skills.

Shams acts as a catalyst for creative and media businesses to grow and thrive, covering a wide range of business licences and activities available for those wishing to embark on their entrepreneurial journey in the UAE. The free zone provides the flexibility to combine different activities on the same licence, and gives a lot of opportunities to different categories of business by issuing trade licences to companies, freelancers and entrepreneurs in the industries of technology and media, as well as other creative industries.

Since its inception, Shams has worked on several initiatives to encourage young media professionals to enhance their skills and pick up some new ones. One such initiative is the Emirates Entertainment Experience. The Emirates Entertainment Experience involved a team of filmmaking professionals working with talents perusing a career in filmmaking. The team comprised of director Nahla Al Fahad (from the UAE), actors Habib Ghuloom and Abdullah Haider, writer Mohammed Hassan Ahmed, composer Moustafa Halawany (from Egypt) and director of photography Michal Sosna (from Poland).

The Emirates Entertainment Experience project culminated into the first "crowdsourced" Emirati film created by UAE-based talents including scriptwriters, actors, directors and people with sound engineering, cinematographic, lighting, music composition, graphics and interior designers.

For more information, contact:
Phone: 800 - 74267(Shams)
Website: www.shams.ae

The free zone provides the flexibility to combine different activities on the same licence
The free zone provides the flexibility to combine different activities on the same licence
The free zone provides the flexibility to combine different activities on the same licence
The free zone provides the flexibility to combine different activities on the same licence

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