Beijing: General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, yesterday inaugurated the newly-renovated Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Centre for Arabic Language and Islamic Studies in Beijing.
The centre was previously set up on the orders of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1990. Shaikh Mohammad ordered the refurbishment and renovation of the centre in 2009.
Shaikh Mohammad also met with Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping and held talks on bilateral relations in all fields and ways to develop them.
They discussed the latest developments in the Middle East and in the international arena, as well as issues of mutual interest.
Shaikh Mohammad stressed the UAE's keenness to develop relations with China which has become an influential player in the global political and economic arena.
Earlier, Shaikh Mohammad unveiled the plaque of the Shaikh Zayed centre, and wrote in the VIP Register.
"I congratulate the Beijing University for Foreign Studies, and the faculty and students of the College of Arabic Language, on this happy occasion and thank them for their sincere efforts, wishing them all success," he said.
Shaikh Mohammad hoped that the centre would serve as a bridge between Arab and Chinese civilisations and help deepen the concepts of dialogue, understanding and noble human values.
Omar Ahmad Al Bitar, UAE Ambassador to Beijing, announced that Shaikh Mohammad had made a grant of $1.12 million (Dh4.1 million) to the centre to support its educational programmes.
At the centre, Shaikh Mohammad visited the exhibition of Emirati artist Mohammad Mandi, which features painting under the theme "China-UAE". He also visited a photography exhibition of old and modern pictures of the UAE, and the Shaikh Zayed Mosque.
He then headed for the conference hall, which hosted the opening ceremony, during which Professor Yang Xueyi, chairman of the Beijing Foreign Studies University Council, gave a speech welcoming Shaikh Mohammad and his accompanying delegation, reminding them of the historical visit of the late Shaikh Zayed to China in 1990 when he ordered the centre to be set up.
Xueyi praised Shaikh Mohammad's gesture of renovating the centre and providing it with state-of-the-art equipment in a style that combines modern architecture with Arab aesthetics.
Shaikh Mohammad donated 1,000 books to the centre, while the Shaikh Zayed Book Award also donated books and the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre presented a model of the mosque to the university, as well as a collection of paintings and drawings.
Shaikh Mohammad, along with the university chairman, planted a "Tree of Friendship" in the centre's garden.