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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 July 2018

Weekly Saturday Newsletter

The Best of The National

Welcome to this week's ‘Best of The National’, your guide to our most compelling, important, and exclusive content from the past seven days. Here you will find news, features, comment, video and podcasts we believe help in our mission of the “Middle East. Explained”.

The UAE geared up this week for the state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who arrived in the Emirates on Thursday evening. A full programme of cultural events was organised across the country, landmark buildings were illuminated in the Chinese flag, and even electronic road signs displayed greetings in Mandarin.

But we also reported on US President Donald Trump's eventful meeting with his Russian counterpart in Helsinki; we looked on the grassroots protests in Iraq and their true cause, and then there was the strange tale from London of the drug cartels, the Dark Web, and a secret plot to smear the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah ...

China's President Xi Jinping received a royal welcome as he arrived in Abu Dhabi to begin an historic three-day state visit. Mr Xi was met at the Presidential Airport by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, who said the visit would usher in a "new phase of co-operation" between the two nations. We have pictures, video and reports from UAE-China Week and Mr Xi's ongoing visit here.

Despite failures in the past in their conflicting roles in the Syria civil war, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin agreed to joint efforts to end the seven-year conflict, which could (potentially) be one of the few success stories to come out of the Helsinki summit. Away from the glare of the global spotlights, Damien McElroy, our man on the ground in the Finnish capital, sent this wonderful postcard.

Mass graves and makeshift cemeteries are being uncovered around the city of Raqqa, once an ISIS stronghold. Sara Manisera reported on the heart-breaking task of Syrian civil defence as they work with families to try to reunite people with their loved ones' remains.

A Qatari ambassador and the country’s foreign minister co-ordinated to secure the release of 28 members of a royal hunting party, which included paying hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorist groups and displacing the citizens of Syrian towns, according to leaked documents.

Sofia Barbarani wrote about the "leaderless" protests in southern Iraq which, she learns, have been triggered by years of neglect by Baghdad.

From London, Paul Peachey reported how a US-Iranian aviation executive is accused in a British court of plotting to secretly involve Latin American drug cartels in the business affairs of Ras Al Khaimah as part of a sophisticated smear campaign against the emirate’s Ruler.

In Arts&Lifestyle, we looked at the Palestinian and Syrian artists covering a Beatles classic, with a humorous twist, in celebration of the end of the Saudi ban on women drivers, and Melissa Gronlund explored the vibrant arts scene ... in Kazakhstan.

And being single in the Emirates no longer means eating badly or going hungry. Here's our guide to good food for one person. Now, stop ordering another pizza ...

The World Cup is over, but that's no reason not to spend some quality time with Extra Time, where our Sport staff look back at the highs and low of the festival of football. John McAuley's very readable diary from Moscow is here

In Behind The Headlines, Naser Al Wasmi speaks to the UAE Ambassador to China, Ali Al Dhaheri, who described deepening ties between the two countries and how they will provide for unprecedented cultural, diplomatic and trade growth.

Mustafa Alrawi, in Business Extra, explains how the UAE's stable supply of oil and gas provides opportunities for strong ties with Beijing.

The economic importance of China to the region cannot be overstated and our video team has pulled together a "China 101" with everything you need to know - from ancient and historic trade ties to the multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative - and what this means specifically to the UAE.

Meanwhile, in Dubai we met the owner of a restaurant and his new automated waitress, who will deliver your food to your table. Marketing ploy or a brave new world for service staff? Have a look and you can decide.

David Rothkopf looked beyond the Nato Summit to identify the biggest issue facing the alliance – cyber war – and detailed its worrying lack of preparedness for this global threat.

Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UAE, Sholto Byrnes considered China’s Belt and Road Initiative and detailed just how transformative it could be.

And Xi Jinping himself wrote for The National this week, lauding the relationship between China and the UAE.

Finally there was Nick March’s dissection of customer services departments, in which he pleaded for humans to take back control from machines.

All this and more in The National – look out for the print edition, visit TheNational.ae, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter for round-the-clock updates.

And if you're on the go, don't forget our new-and-improved app for your mobile device - available for Apple and Android.

Enjoy your weekend,

Nic Ridley

Production editor