The acclaimed Chinese National Peking Opera Company staging a performance. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: The Chinese community celebrated the 69th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on Sunday night in Dubai, currently the “most favoured first stop for Chinese tourists” in the Middle East.

The Chinese National Day is marked every year on October 1 and is celebrated in a seven-day holiday called the Golden Week. The celebration points back to October 1, 1949, a day of patriotism and national celebration when Mao Zedong declared the formation of the republic.

In Dubai, the reception dinner was attended by Nasser Bin Thani Juma Al Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, members of the diplomatic corps, and members of the community.

Guests were treated to a night of traditional Chinese opera performed by the acclaimed Chinese National Peking Opera Company that came all the way from China. Guests also got a chance to try out Chinese calligraphy and Chinese tea.

During the ceremony, Consul-General of China Li Lingbing said China-UAE relations has grown from strength to strength over the years, with the UAE being a significant partner of China in the Middle East, as well as an important pillar country for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project construction.

This growth was further reinforced by the recent visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in July, the highest official visit by a Chinese president in 29 years. “During this visit, the two leaders reached an important consensus on developing China-UAE friendly cooperation, and oversaw the signing of a dozen agreements and Memorandum of Understanding covering the cooperation on economy, trade, finance, energy, agriculture, culture and etc,” Lingbing said.

“They agreed to upgrade the bilateral relationship to a “comprehensive strategic partnership”, verifying the two sides’ common aspiration to establish the partnership with a shared future. This provides great support to promoting China-UAE strategic trust, cooperation in various fields and dynamic exploring of BRI,” she added.

China remains as the UAE’s largest trade partner with a trade volume that reached $48 billion (Dh176 billion) in 2017.

Currently, the UAE hosts 4,000 Chinese companies from various sectors and is also home to more than 270,000 Chinese expatriates, majority of whom are based in Dubai.

The emirate has become a favourite destination for Chinese tourists since they were issued visa-on-arrival status in 2016.

“Dubai is now the most favoured first stop for Chinese tourists travelling to Arab destinations in the Middle East for years. In 2017, the number of Chinese tourists in Dubai reached nearly one million, and about 2.2 million Chinese tourists transited via Dubai. Both of the numbers set new records in history,” Lingbing said.

Lingbing, who has completed her tour of duty in Dubai after three years, assured the Chinese community that the missions in the country have their best interests in mind.

“Over the past year, the consulate-general has done a lot of work to protect our compatriots’ personal interests and to build a harmonious community for overseas Chinese. I want to emphasise that we will be unswervingly committed to make good service for our compatriots and try our best to create favourable conditions for your living and working here.”