Experts say the move reflects long-term thinking and an eastward tilt for the UAE
UAE names Khaldoon Al Mubarak first Presidential Envoy to China
UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed issued a decree on Thursday appointing the chief executive and managing director of Mubadala Investment Company, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, as Presidential Special Envoy to China.
The decision, according to state news agency WAM, was published in the latest issue of the Official Gazette, finalizing the appointment of Mr Al Mubarak as the first UAE envoy to China. This move comes at a time of booming trade and improved relations between Beijing and Abu Dhabi.
Mr Al Mubarak is the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi's strategic investment firm with assets exceeding $226 billion. This month, the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute – the global organisation which studies and ranks state-controlled investments funds around the world – named him the world’s top public investment executive.
Karen Young, a scholar of the Gulf region at the American Enterprise Institute, told The National “that appointing a high-level envoy to manage UAE relations with China demonstrates the importance of commercial and investment ties, but also the future orientation of foreign and economic policy.”
“The UAE is thinking long-term, as the future of the Gulf region is more and more eastward in its orientation” Ms Young said, adding that energy and product consumption are likely to increase in India, China and East Asia.
Last July, China’s President Xi Jinping made a historic three-day state visit to the UAE. The visit climaxed in the signing of energy and financial deals that marked the strengthening of the friendship between the UAE and China.
As The National previously reported, state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) signed a wide-ranging agreement with China National Petroleum Company to explore partnership opportunities in the emirate as it plans to expand its refining and petrochemical operations and attract global investors.
UAE-China trade is expected to rise to $58 billion in 2018 (it exceeded $53bn in 2017) and Mr Al Mubarak personally led efforts to boost the economic ties between the two countries. Last November he told CNBC: “we believe China is an economy that's going to continuously grow at attractive growth rates and that opportunities lie within that economy.”