Abu Dhabi: The Chinese community in the UAE has grown more than fourfold in the last ten years and become the largest Chinese diaspora in the Middle East, a top diplomat said on Wednesday.
More than 200,000 Chinese people are now working, studying and doing business in the UAE, Chang Hua, Chinese Ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News in an interview at the country’s embassy in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
He said the number of Chinese residents in the UAE in 2006 was estimated at between 30,000 and 50,000.
Hua said that the growth in the number of Chinese businesses in the UAE, especially in Dubai, has contributed to the upsurge in the Chinese population. “At present, there are over 4,000 Chinese enterprises in the UAE, including large state-owned enterprises with global influence as well as small and medium enterprises and self-employed enterprises in Dragon Mart in Dubai. They operate in energy, telecommunications, transport, construction, trade, finance, securities and service, etc,” he explained.
The envoy said Chinese in the UAE have been working tirelessly to promote China-UAE cooperation and people-to-people friendship.
China and the UAE have long been conducting people-to-people exchanges. More and more Emiratis are becoming interested in the Chinese language and culture, the ambassador said.
Confucius Institutes, Chinese language schools and the UAE Youth Ambassadors Programme [for Emirati students] have led to many people upholding China-UAE friendship.
Last year, the UAE was the host country of the Beijing International Book Fair. Next year, China will serve as the host country of the Abu Dhabi Book Fair. There have been frequent exchanges of cultural groups, as evidenced by the participation of Lang Lang, the famous Chinese pianist, at the Abu Dhabi Art Festival. “Stories like this take place almost every day,” Hua said.
Tourism cooperation is an important part of people-to-people exchanges between China and the UAE, the envoy said.
Recently, China and the UAE adopted many measures to encourage their citizens to travel to each other’s countries. More than 500,000 Chinese tourists travelled to the UAE in 2015, he said.
Hua said people-to-people exchanges have been booming in recent years. “I am confident that thanks to the care and support of leaders of the two countries, in particular with the progress made in building the One Belt and One Road together, mutual political trust will be further enhanced, pragmatic cooperation in all fields will bear new fruit and people-to-people friendship will be more solidly based,” he explained.
The Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the initiatives of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road respectively in September and October 2013 during his Central Asia and Southeast Asia visits. The Belt and Road initiative envisages joint building and mutual benefit to connect development strategies of countries along the belt and road.
“Actually, this initiative coincides with the proposal of rejuvenating the Silk Road put forward by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Since time immemorial, China and Arab countries have been connected by the Silk Road,” the envoy said.
This initiative is of significant strategic importance for both China and the UAE as it will boost regional economic development and cultural progress, he said. The objectives of the initiative of Belt and Road, namely, policy coordination, smooth trade, inter-connectivity, financial cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, are just areas of priority in China-UAE bilateral cooperation. That will absolutely exert long-lasting influence on bilateral strategic partnership, Hua said.
30,000-50,000 - Chinese population in UAE in 2006
Over 200,000 –Chinese population in UAE now
4,000 Chinese enterprises in the UAE
500,000 – Chinese tourists visited UAE in 2015