Today, the leadership, Government and people of the UAE are proud to offer a warm and sincere welcome to President Xi Jinping of China, who begins a three-day visit to our nation. The visit is highly significant for many reasons, cementing the close and cordial ties between the two nations, one that has grown and prospered across every economic and cultural sector. Indeed, President Xi is making his first foreign visit this year, an honour that we in the UAE are proud to accept and welcome him with our warmest greetings.

Trade between the UAE and China is currently worth $55 billion (Dh201 billion), and China’s foreign direct investment in the UAE was valued at $9.1 billion by the end of last year, and is spread across sectors that include oil, gas, infrastructure, finance, construction, telecommunications, trade among others. In 2017 alone, there was an increase of Dh2.95 billion in direct investment from China in the UAE — and there are currently more than 200,000 Chinese citizens and 4,200 Chinese companies contributing to the growth and success of the UAE economy, and those numbers are growing daily.

Already, the UAE provides visa on arrival access for Chinese nationals, an initiative that has greatly increased that nation’s impact on our tourism and cultural sectors. Make no mistake, the relationship between the UAE and China is strong, deep and flourishing, and both nations share a common vision when it comes to reaching out around the world and building prosperity based on the free and unfettered movement of goods, trade and commerce.

As His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has noted, both China and the UAE play a pivotal role in the stability of the region and its economic future, noting: “Over 28 years ago, the late Shaikh Zayed visited China, founded the strategic relationship between the two countries that has yielded fruitful trade and investment as well as cultural relations for more than three decades.”

President Xi’s visit offers an opportunity to further foster economic and investment ties between the two nations, and it reflects their mutual keenness to promote and nurture further growth. It’s also a recognition that the UAE is the global gateway to the markets of the Arabian Gulf and the wider Middle East. These are difficult and challenging times, but building on the long and deep friendship between our nations is a practical way to overcome the winds that are buffeting the global economy.