Sharjah originally flourished as a transportation hub for the region. Indeed, the Gulf’s first airport was established in Sharjah in 1932, and the emirate’s Port Khalid was the first container port to begin operating in the region. More recently, government-funded economic development programmes, the establishment of two economic free zones and the quickly growing number of SMEs, particularly in the industrial sector, have helped underpin the emirate’s diversified growth trajectory. In September 2016 the Sharjah Foreign Direct Investment forum will seek to highlight investment opportunities in sectors expected to fuel growth moving forward, namely health care, environment, tourism, and transport and logistics. In early 2016 the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s reaffirmed its stable outlook for the emirate based on its low debt burden, a well-diversified industrial base and the government’s strong fiscal management. Moreover, the finance sector’s confidence in the emirate has been underscored by the strong investor demand for the sukuk offerings launched by the government in 2014 and 2016.