UAE China
Image Credit: Gulf News
Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri

The state visit to the People’s Republic of China by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, accompanied by a considerable UAE delegation of government and businesses, from July 21 to 23, has advanced the relationship between our two countries in very real and practical ways.

This proved to be a momentous visit, with many noteworthy achievements. What was agreed was summed up succinctly through an announcement echoed by both President Xi Jinping and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed, that China and the UAE will work towards increasing bilateral trade volume to $200 billion (Dh734 billion) by 2030. The target here is more than a threefold increase, as trade is now estimated to be worth around $60 billion annually. So, we can see extremely ambitious plans, testament to the deepening relationship between our two nations.

In order to achieve a practical way of making strides towards this target, the Chinese and UAE delegations, led by Jinping and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed respectively, signed 16 agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs), with the aim of strengthening cooperation across a vast number of areas, including economy, trade, investment, technology, artificial intelligence, culture and education, as well as protecting the environment and achieving food security. We now have a substantial result in this respect, complementing the strong synergy from Jinping’s visit to the UAE last year, with 14 MoUs and the setting in motion of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Bold vision

Cross-border investments have increased in a significant way, and Chinese companies and UAE companies are working in tandem to share technology, capital and market access. Financial cooperation is also deepening, as demonstrated by the agreement for China Everbright Group to set up its Mena financial and investment hub in Abu Dhabi Global Market.

A bold vision was outlined as Jinping and Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed sat down together, they also signed an agreement aligning them with common goals. This document included commitments to development, growth, prosperity and stability. Among other aspects, there was also an agreement to adhere to the principles of mutual interest, equality and understanding.

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Another series of milestones stemmed from the UAE-China Economic Forum, where 19 agreements and MoUs were signed by a broad range of sectors between numerous UAE and China businesses. This forum showed the level of sophistication achieved in the UAE-China ties, as opportunities for joint action for investment were explored with a high-ranking ministerial delegation and business leaders from the respective nations. Such achievements are the result of decades of hard work, since the first visit of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1990, as the first leader to China from the Arab region.

There was a fitting send-off towards the end of the visit, as a celebration was held marking the 35th anniversary of the establishment of friendship and bilateral relations between the UAE and the People’s Republic of China. A grand ceremony took place in Beijing, which was attended by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed, China’s Vice-President Wang Qishan, the staff of the diplomatic mission and many high-level dignitaries, ministers, businesses and investors. There were even more agreements and MoUs achieved on sidelines of this event, between a number of Emirati and Chinese businesses, five more to cap off an extremely fruitful trip to China.

New UAE Embassy

The celebration culminated with the unveiling by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed of a new building for the new UAE Embassy to China in Beijing. A modern and forward-looking building, this provides a physical expression of the long-lasting vision for the UAE-China relationship. The new embassy is a symbol in itself, and a physical expression of a blueprint come to life, as the comprehensive strategic partnership outlined last year is in full swing, progressing and in action. Our relationship has now reached a higher level, with bilateral cooperation in full swing.

The collective vision between our countries is bold — Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed emphasised that “The two sides are laying pillars for the next 100 years, beginning with steps to teach the Chinese language in more than 200 schools in the UAE.” The vision of Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed is supported by an MoU between the UAE Ministry of Education and The Confucius Institute Headquarters of China, which will provide high-quality Chinese Language Teaching in UAE schools, ensuring clearer communication and understanding in a shared lingua franca for generations to come.

Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed concluded his visit stating that the two sides are creating a “road map” for a century of prosperity as he concluded a landmark three-day visit to Beijing.

So, we can see, we are just a few steps along the road. This is a very Chinese long-term view to civilisation. Our countries are looking forward to the future. Setting the sail in line with the prosperous winds is something the UAE and China both share, as forward-looking nations with a vision of a globalised world.