China, UAE deepen economic cooperation under BRI
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is paying a state visit to China from Sunday to Tuesday at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE’s bilateral trade with China, its second largest trade partner, reached 53 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 and is expected to reach 70 billion U.S. dollars by 2020.
Ni Jian, the Chinese ambassador to the UAE, said last week that the two nations are enjoying their “best period” in history.
“Jointly promoting the Belt and Road Initiative is in line with the UAE’s interests and brings opportunities and momentum to our respective development. As an important regional transport hub and financial and trade center, the UAE has a pivotal role to extend China’s cooperation with the Gulf and the Middle East,” Ni said.
The UAE announced inward investment deals for Dubai of about 3.4 billion U.S. dollars at a Belt and Road forum held in Beijing in April.
China is among the top four national sources of investment in Dubai, the UAE’s largest city. Chinese investment in real estate has been rising over the past four years, increasing by 64 percent between 2016 and 2017, and it is expected to grow 70 percent this year.
UAE Ambassador to China Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri said last week that the Belt and Road Initiative looks to connect states, bring people closer and share prosperity.
More than 1.1 million Chinese tourists visited the UAE in 2018, taking advantage of the mutual visa-exemption arrangement. There are over 150 commercial flights every week between the two countries.
The UAE has proven reserves of oil and natural gas that rank it sixth and fifth respectively in terms of global reserves. In 2017, the country awarded 12 percent of the franchise rights of the Abu Dhabi onshore oil block to Chinese companies, marking the first time China has gained a share from upstream cooperation in the Middle East. In March 2018, the UAE granted a 10 percent franchise for each of the two oil fields in the Abu Dhabi offshore oil block to Chinese companies.
President Xi paid a visit to the UAE in 2018, the first by a Chinese head of state in 29 years to the Arab state. The two sides agreed that both countries will strengthen their in-depth cooperation in various fields, and promote the continuous development of bilateral ties.