A survey carried out by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce, conducted by YouGov, found that consumers in the UAE, both national and expatriate, prefer to buy local products and services.

The reasons cited were price, quality and supporting local businesses.

However, 47 per cent of Sharjah consumers said the difficulty in identifying local products meant they did not buy them, while 27 per cent could not name a local brand.

In response, the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce is calling for better labelling and promotion for local brands. Among the measures to improve consumer awareness is a “Made in UAE” brand for packaging, which is expected to be rolled out next year.

“This research is a starting point to identify where we stand and highlight the subject for all stakeholders,” says Hussain al-Mahmoudi, Director General of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce. “Our emphasis is on promoting local products for national and international markets, and taking them to a higher level.”

Food produced in Sharjah includes London Dairy ice cream, Tiffany biscuits and soft drinks brands produced locally by the Al-Baker Group.

Sharjah’s manufacturing sector, comprising more than 1,400 firms, contributed 17 per cent to its GDP in 2012. It represents a third of manufacturing in the UAE, but only 5 per cent of national GDP in 2013. With limited oil wealth, Sharjah is diversifying its economy to promote growth.