Shaikh Majid Al Mualla, chairman of the board of directors at Hala China along with Li Lingbing, Chinese Consul General in Dubai and other senior officials during the signing ceremony and press conference during the official launch of Hala China at Bvlgari Yacht Club, Bvlgari Resort Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: Hala China, a Dubai government initiative to attract Chinese tourists, signed a slew of agreements on Sunday morning with local partners such as Emirates, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Bank of China, and UnionPay.

Spearheaded by state-owned firms Meraas and Dubai Holding in April, the Hala China initiative inked partnerships with over 10 predominantly Chinese companies.

Locally, Dubai-based Emirates airline was appointed official carrier for Hala China, with the carrier stating its intention to develop packages and privileges for its Chinese customers.

The airline currently flies to seven different destinations in China, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Meanwhile, payment services provider UnionPay, the largest company of its kind in the world, was announced as the preferred partner for the initiative, with Bank of China also looking to establish long-term economic relationships through its own range of financial services.

The event also saw the establishment of a new Hala China board of directors.

Other organisations to join the initiative include Dubai Parks and Resorts, state-owned giant China Everbright Group, China CYTS Tours Holding Co, e-commerce platform JollyChic, digital travel platform Mafengwo, and Sino-Union Reserve Investment.

According to a statement from Meraas, the remit of these partners spans banking, finance, travel, tourism, marketing, technology, e-commerce, education, entertainment, and the environment, and will result in direct investment while improving the experience of Chinese visitors.

Abdullah Al Habbai, group chairman at Meraas, said in a statement: “We launched Hala China with the intention of aligning the objectives of key stakeholders and strategic partners from across Dubai and China, with the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.”

On signing the initiative’s first strategic agreements, Al Habbai said that it was “the first step towards achieving shared prosperity, and is both symbolic and significant in providing Hala China with a foundation upon which to build.”

Overseeing these partnerships will be a board that is chaired by Majid Al Mualla, divisional senior vice-president at Emirates, and Mohammad Al Mulla, chief executive officer at DXB Entertainments, who will serve as the deputy chairman and board member.

“The establishment of a board of directors is also crucial in ensuring the longevity of the initiative. We are confident that the strategic partnerships signed today are the first of many, and that they have the potential to strengthen relationships between businesses, investors, entrepreneurs and travellers in the UAE and China for generations to come,” Al Habbai added.

Li Lingbing, Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Dubai, said: “Since China and UAE began jointly promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, the two countries have actively strived to achieve mutually beneficial prosperity and development, with bilateral relations opening up a new era of cooperation. [We] have initiated Hala China to enhance cooperation in the fields of trade, finance, investment, culture and tourism at a time that will help in promoting further cooperation and mutual understanding between Chinese and UAE citizens.”