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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Louvre Abu Dhabi opening and new visa centre to boost Chinese tourists in UAE

The opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in November will attract many more Chinese tourists to the emirate, according to China’s consul general in Dubai

The Middle East’s first Chinese visa application centre launched on Tuesday. Navin Khianey for The National
The Middle East’s first Chinese visa application centre launched on Tuesday. Navin Khianey for The National

The opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in November will attract many more Chinese tourists to the emirate, according to China’s consul general in Dubai.

Li Lingbing, who was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the Middle East’s first Chinese visa application centre on Tuesday, said the Sino-UAE relationship had developed very rapidly in recent years.

“We can see that Abu Dhabi as a city and an emirate has been built beautifully and it is a modernised city today,” she said. “It is also a big attraction and destination for Chinese tourists.

"Most Chinese visit Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as the Northern Emirates.”

Li Lingbing, China’s consul general in Dubai. Navin Khianey for The National
Li Lingbing, China’s consul general in Dubai. Navin Khianey for The National

In recent years, Abu Dhabi has taken steps to promote itself in order to attract an increased number of Chinese tourists. And although Paris is one of the top destinations for Chinese nationals, it is expected that the Louvre Abu Dhabi will be able to provide them with a much closer reason to visit.

“It has been very successful,” she said. “We believe that at the end of this year, the opening of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi will also have a big influence on Chinese tourists to visit the emirate.

The Louvre is a world-class sightseeing centre and Chinese people love culture so they would love to know more about it.”

Last year, around 600,000 Chinese tourists visited the UAE. “We anticipate this number to grow even more,” Ms Lingbing said. “This is why we established this visa centre and we believe the Louvre will be another hotspot, just like Ferrari World in Yas Island which is already a tourist destination for Chinese nationals and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, as well as ethnic villages.

"We believe in the future that many more Chinese will visit Abu Dhabi as it is also very environmentally-friendly, something Chinese people are very impressed by – they like Abu Dhabi and so do I.”

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Louvre Abu Dhabi:

Museum will open its doors on November 11

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Special report: The museum of then, now and the future

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Around 40,000 tourists from the UAE visited China last year – the majority were Emirati. “We carried out many steps to attract more Emiratis to China,” she said. “We encourage more delegation visits for business, education both ways, as well as government. Since last November, the UAE has lifted visa [restrictions] for Chinese nationals, [who can now obtain a visa on arrival] and, as a result, more Chinese people visit the UAE.”

She said the new visa centre was a big step in improving services and convenience for all applicants wishing to visit China. “Visa demands from UAE nationals and [others] are sharply increasing,” she said. “The opening of this centre will be another boost for further uplifting our people-to-people exchange, cultural communication and practical cooperation between China and the UAE.”

Last year, more than 28.3 million foreigners visited China. “China has a long friendship and deep strategic partnership with the UAE,” said Chen Xiongfeng, deputy director-general of services for the Foreign Ministry Home and Overseas Offices. “Dubai isn’t just the economic and financial centre of the region but it is also an important international airline hub. It is the right time to open this centre in this city which serves our common interests by promoting the future exchange of both countries.”

The Asian country has so far signed mutual visa exemption agreements with 132 countries as well as 69 visa simplification agreements with 41 nations.

Read more: Sino-UAE relations continue to grow strong

“We also have a much larger portion of Chinese visitors to other countries,” he said. “In the future, China will keep working with other countries to further facilitate the exchange of people. In recent years, it has become an active participant in the process of globalisation and, as traveling becomes easier, it places greater demand for visa facilitation and more countries have improved the quality and efficiency of their visa services by setting up such centres.”

He said China was taking the lead in this trend. “As an old Chinese saying goes: ‘How delightful it is to have friends coming from afar’,” he said.

“Since the first centre was set up in London in 2008, we’ve had 55 centres in 25 countries across five continents and expect to exceed 60 by the end of this year. As the first Chinese visa application centre established in the Gulf and the Arab world, it is a milestone accomplishment.”

The centre in Dubai, located in Wafi Mall, is the seventh for China opened by VFS Global.

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