The national flags of the UAE and China hanging in the AD Mart, also known as the ‘China Market’, in Musaffah Industrial Area in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: As the UAE continues to strengthen its relations with China, more and more Chinese expatriates continue to make the emirates their home, opening businesses and creating a vibrant Chinese community in the country.

An estimated 200,000 Chinese currently reside in the UAE with more than 4,000 Chinese companies operating in the country in several sectors such as trade, construction, telecommunication, and food and beverage.

“The fraternal ties between the UAE and China are a very good one and this creates a positive environment for many Chinese people to come and live in the UAE. The UAE has a welcoming policy and so a lot of Chinese people see this as a good opportunity to come to the country and make a good future for themselves,” said Lawrence Zhao, chief executive officer of the Chinese Market in Abu Dhabi.

“I have been in the UAE for almost seven years now. I have my whole family here — my wife, my two children, my parents and my brother. The Chinese community in the UAE has really grown during the years that I have been here — both in terms of Chinese people coming to live here as well as the large number of tourists who visit,” he added.

“The market for Chinese businesses has also become more competitive. There weren’t as many Chinese companies as there are now when you compare it to seven years ago,” Zhao said, explaining how the UAE has attracted several Chinese companies to the country.

And more than just boosting business ties between both nations, Zhao said the increased interactions between both countries were also positive from the cultural side of things.

“There is more Chinese culture in the UAE nowadays, this is a good thing when people can come together and there is a communication between different cultures such as Chinese culture and local Middle Eastern culture.

“A lot of my customers who come to the market are Emiratis, and many of them are interested about China and they tell me about their visits to China. I think it’s a good thing when you can share,” he added.

Kai Qian, another Chinese business owner who has been living in Abu Dhabi for five years, was also positive about the Chinese community and their prospects in the UAE.

“There is a noticeable growth in Chinese people settling in the UAE and a lot of that is due to the improving relations between both countries,” he said.

“I think that as trade relations continue to get even better, you will see more Chinese people moving to the UAE because there are a lot of good opportunities here,” he added.

“It also works both ways as well, in China you can also find products from the UAE being sold. Before I came to the UAE, I never saw products from the UAE being sold in China, but now it’s different and you can find things like camel soap and dates being sold in China. Dates, in particular, have become popular in China,” Qian said.

Qian also highlighted the local friendly attitude towards different communities as a reason why Chinese people find it so easy to settle down in the UAE.

“On a community level, the relationship is a very good one, we face no troubles and instead what we find is a very hospitable and friendly environment. Being from different cultures also lets us learn from each other, which is always a good thing.

“Many of my customers are Emiratis and they can now speak some Chinese, whenever they come to the shop they like to speak a few words in Chinese and they like to talk about China,” he adds.

Nancy Yang, a Chinese saleswoman at Dragon Fly Mall in Abu Dhabi, also spoke on the growing presence of the Chinese community in the country.

“In the four years that I’ve been working in the UAE I’ve seen a lot of Chinese people coming to live here. A lot of it is because many Chinese people see the UAE as an attractive prospect where they can settle down and make a good business.

“There’s also a strong local market for Chinese products, the products that we’re importing from China are popular with the locals and there’s always an interest in things coming from China,” she added.