Abu Dhabi: The UAE-China Week officially got under way in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, with the weeklong event set to celebrate the best of Emirati and Chinese culture to mark the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the emirates starting on Thursday.
Running from July 17 to 24, the UAE-China Week will feature several activities including the Chinese Film Week and the Chinese Book Exhibition Week, both of which will be taking place at Manarat Al Saadiyat. The same venue will also be hosting daily events featuring traditional Chinese plays and musical performances along with showcasing traditional Emirati culture.
“This visit by President Xi is really important and significant for us here in the UAE” and it would strengthen the cultural ties between both countries, said Noora Mohammad Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, who attended the opening of the UAE-China Week at Manarat Al Saadiyat along with Ni Jian, the Chinese Ambassador to the UAE.
“This visit will see more cultural agreements and partnerships happening with China,” the minister said.
“I’m so proud to also have young Emirati students here as well from the Hamdan Bin Zayed School who can speak fluent Mandarin Chinese. At the same time, we also have Chinese students at the Shaikh Zayed Centre for Arabic Language and Islamic Studies in Beijing who can also speak fluent Arabic. This by itself creates a bridge between both cultures and helps to demystify whatever misconceptions there are between two civilisations,” she added, highlighting the pivotal role culture can play.
Hussain Mohammad Al Hammadi, a 14-year-old Emirati-Chinese student from the Hamdan Bin Zayed School was among those in attendance during the opening ceremony.
“It’s nice to be a part of two different and special cultures. When people find out that I’m Emirati-Chinese, they get very interested,” said the young student, who was showcasing traditional perfumes and musk from the Gulf region.
“My Chinese language skills aren’t very fluent, I’m somewhere in the middle at the moment, but I am still learning and hope to improve,” he added.
Al Hammadi also said he was happy to be a part of the UAE-China Week and sharing aspects of both cultures.
“I think this is a very good event, to share about each other’s cultures and to also learn from each other. I’m happy that this will happen every year now, it will give people from both communities the chance to know more about each other.”
Abdul Malik Al Hakeem, another 14-year-old Emirati who also attends the Hamdan Bin Zayed School, said he speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese after he started learning the language from the age of four.
“I began learning the language when I was very young and it’s been a very nice experience for me up to this point. I have learnt to speak Mandarin with the fluent accent and so I can also pronounce the words properly. Each Chinese letter has four different tones, so you need to be very careful with these tones because they can change the meaning of the word.
“I didn’t find it so difficult to learn the language because it was more about understanding what you were learning rather than memorising, and I also enjoyed it a lot which made it easier. Chinese culture and history is very interesting. I like to learn as much as I can and understand the differences in the customs and traditions between the UAE and China,” he added.
Jack Lee, a Chinese artist living in the UAE for 13 years and taking part in the UAE-China Week, said he believed that cultural exchanges would deepen the ties between both countries.
“The culture exchange is a very good thing, by learning about each other’s traditions we end up knowing more about one another, and that helps to strengthen the relationships we have, making it more close and friendlier.
“As a resident in the UAE for 13 years, I have always felt so welcome here, I have never felt like an outsider and that’s why I have been here for so long. I always like to share my experiences with my fellow countrymen when I get the chance, I tell them about the Arabic and Emirati culture, the hospitality and how welcoming they are, and it’s small things like this that can make a big difference and create a good understanding,” he added.