Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

UAE-China ties will last for generations

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed visit reinforced a long and mutually beneficial relationship

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Xi Jinping in Beijing. AP Photo
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Xi Jinping in Beijing. AP Photo

This week, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, concluded a three-day official visit to Beijing, where he met President Xi Jinping. The visit, which was described as a milestone moment by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, gave the two countries a renewed opportunity to strengthen longstanding ties that date back 2,000 years, to the early days of the Silk Road.

Moving forward, the two leaders have taken inspiration from a long history of trade and fraternity to cement UAE-China ties in the long term. Sheikh Mohamed revealed that he and Mr Xi were devising an ambitious road map for a century of prosperity. China is already one of the UAE's largest trading partners, which means that strengthening economic relations is strategically important for Abu Dhabi. A total of 16 deals have already been signed. Among them, was an agreement between Dubai's Emaar Properties and Beijing Daxing International Airport to implement a $11 billion project in Dubai. Abu Dhabi National Oil Company also signed a deal with the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation – the world’s biggest oil importer. In addition to this, the UAE will be part of China’s Belt and Road initiative, a vast infrastructure project that aims to link China to Central and South Asia, the Arabian Gulf, Africa and Europe. The UAE will be essential to such an endeavour, as the nation already connects the east to Africa and the Arab world, and is home to Dubai, the Middle East’s biggest financial hub. This has prompted Mr Wang to describe the Gulf nation as a “shining pearl” in this colossal project.

However, relations between the UAE and China extend beyond their historic and commercial ties – the two nations have formed deep cultural and personal links. In recent decades, a growing community of Chinese residents have made the UAE their home. In the early 1990s, an estimated 1,000 Chinese nationals lived in the country. Now, there are more than 200,000 Chinese residents and 6,000 businesses. This significant development has seen the rise of Dragon Mart, the world’s largest Chinese trading hub outside mainland China, located on the outskirts of Dubai. The relevant authorities have also made it easier for UAE nationals to experience the many wonders of China. In 2018, Emiratis were exempted from the pre-entry visas required to visit the nation. Sheikh Mohamed’s visit to Beijing will only strengthen a fond and mutually beneficial relationship that will last for generations to come.

Updated: July 31, 2019 06:57 PM

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