Business leaders in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been voicing high confidence in UAE-China relations on the occasion of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the country.
A number of projects and initiatives have been announced ahead of the visit, the first by a Chinese head of state to the Arab country in 29 years.
The UAE is also holding a week-long Chinese culture show, the UAE-China Week, from July 17 to 24 in Abu Dhabi, reports AFP. “China is now Dubai’s number one non-oil trading partner,” Arif Amiri, CEO of the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) Authority, said earlier this week.
“As wealth traverses the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, we expect to witness tremendous growing synergies in the financial services industry,” he added.
The DIFC, the biggest financial free zone in the Middle East, is home to 493 financial firms, including China’s big four banks: Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, and Bank of China.
Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) Mubarak Al-Mansoori said in a statement on Wednesday that the UAE and China are exploring numerous ways to further promote bilateral ties and strengthen cooperation in different sectors such as economy, trade, investment, education, tourism and renewable energy.
“The Renminbi Clearing Center, jointly established by the CBUAE and the People’s Bank of China, has greatly enhanced the ability of our two nations to trade efficiently as reflected by the growing value of trade, investments and other financial flows,” the statement said.
The two central banks renewed a bilateral currency swap agreement and signed a memorandum of understanding in December 2015 to establish a renminbi clearing center in the UAE.
Swaps through the center have grown consistently, increasing a further 42 percent in the first half of 2018 from the end of 2017, according to the CBUAE.
Earlier this week, Dubai Ports (DP) World signed an agreement with Zhejiang China Commodities City Group to build a “Traders Market” on a total area of 3 million square meters at the Jebel Ali free zone in Dubai.
DP World said the agreement is aimed at providing further impetus to the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.
DP World said the deal complements a previous agreement that was signed earlier this year between DP World and the Zhejiang Seaport Investment and Operation Group on a straight-through warehouse project in the Chinese city of Yiwu, the world’s largest wholesale market for small commodities.
“Dubai and China have a long-standing trading history and it’s essential that we develop the movement of goods in tandem with the growing needs of consumers,” said CEO of DP World Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem.
The UAE’s biggest developer, Emaar Properties, announced Wednesday that it will develop the Middle East’s largest Chinatown within the retail district of Dubai Creek Harbor.
Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, said Xi’s visit to the UAE is historic and will further strengthen UAE-China relations.
“The UAE and China share strong bilateral trade and cultural relations, which are bolstered by the presence of over 200,000 Chinese citizens who live in the UAE and the hundreds of thousands of Chinese visitors that the nation welcomes annually,” he added.