x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Chinese official gets award from UAE envoy in Beijing

An award is made in recognition of efforts to improve ties with GCC countries.

BEIJING // Efforts to promote relations between China and GCC countries have earned a senior Chinese official an award from the UAE ambassador in Beijing.

Tomur Dawamat, the president of the Chinese-Arab Friendship Association and a former governor of the western province of Xinjiang, was presented with the award by Omar al Bitar.

In a speech at a ceremony in Beijing to present the award, Mr al Bitar described Mr Tomur as “a good friend of Arabs” who is both “sympathetic” with them and an advocate for their causes.

“The president was a very high level official in the past, he’s held very important posts and he’s well known in China. Contact with these prominent people is important,” Mr al Bitar told The National.

Mr al Bitar, the UAE’s ambassador in Beijing since early last year, presented the award on behalf of all GCC countries because this year the UAE holds the presidency of the Council of GCC ambassadors in Beijing. The council presents an award every two years to a figure who has helped improve China - GCC ties.

The Chinese-Arab Friendship Association is valuable for bringing ambassadors and other delegates from Arab countries “closer to the Chinese in terms of culture and in terms of understanding and co-ordinating on different levels”, Mr al Bitar said.

“These organisations help out,” he added. “They are not the formal or official bodies, but they do help to bring both peoples together.

“The association carries a significant weight with the Chinese government as the people in charge are prominent ex-ambassadors or officials of the Chinese government who dealt with the Arab world.”

Mr Tomur described himself as “very honoured” to receive the award, adding however it belonged to all members of the association. The organisation, he added, aimed to make “a greater contribution to the strategic relationship” in future.

This week’s presentation came nearly 10 years after the friendship association was started on the initiative of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

Ambassadors from Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and the charge d’affaires from Kuwait, attended the presentation at the Kempinksi Hotel in Beijing. Ambassadors from several other Arab countries also took part.

China-UAE relations have developed significantly in recent years on the back of growing trade between the two countries.

The UAE’s pavilion at the Shanghai Expo last year won engineering awards and was voted the most popular foreign pavilion, while a Confucius Institute to teach the Chinese language has opened at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi.

dbardsley@thenational.ae