DGR Chairman Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi (L) and Cai Xiangyin, Director-General of the Shandong Provincial Foreign Affairs Office, signing a Memorandum of Understanding Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The official Sharjah delegation to China has concluded its second stop in Shandong Province, marking a milestone in bilateral relations following the signing of agreements in diverse fields.

The visit, coordinated with the People’s Government of Shandong, culminated in the signing of a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Department of Government Relations in Sharjah (DGR) and the Foreign Affairs Office of Shandong Province. The agreement aims to facilitate an exchange of ideas and cooperation across various fields.

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Another landmark event was the signing of an MoU between the University of Sharjah (UOS) and Shandong University to strengthen collaboration and to launch joint initiatives, further solidifying the academic partnership between the two regions.

Meeting between the Sharjah delegation and entities from the People’s Government of Shandong Image Credit: Supplied

The Shandong Province visit, part of an official seven-day tour from June 2 to 8, which commenced in Beijing and will make its way to Shanghai, aims to strengthen government relations and explore cooperation in economic, cultural, and tourism sectors, as well as to consolidate ties in education, health, sports, technology, and innovation between Sharjah and China.

Collaboration across sectors

Leading the Emirate’s delegation, Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairman of DGR; and Cai Xiangyin, Director-General of the Shandong Provincial Foreign Affairs Office, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the presence of Deng Yunfeng, Vice Governor of Shandong Province. This agreement aims to enhance cooperation between economic, trade, educational, cultural, and tourism institutions in both regions, and by establishing a communication mechanism, the MoU facilitates discussions on mutual interests, ensuring coordination between the two parties.

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Sheikh Fahim noted that the newly-signed MoU aligns with DGR’s commitment to facilitating meaningful interactions and collaborative partnerships between institutions in Sharjah and their counterparts in Asia, particularly in China. This endeavour is in line with the vision and directives of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, who is a firm believer in dialogue and mutual understanding among nations and cultures, and recognises the importance of cooperation in advancing human civilization and achieving comprehensive and sustainable development across all sectors globally.

Academic and cultural exchange

Signed in the presence of Deng Yunfeng, the University of Sharjah (UOS) and Shandong University signed an agreement to enhance academic and cultural exchanges. This collaboration will involve teaching, research, faculty and student exchanges, staff development, and participation in international academic events. The agreement, signed by Prof. Dr Hamid Majul Al Nuaimi, Chancellor of UoS and Prof Jian Zhang, President, Shandong Normal University aims to strengthen education, research, and capacity building at both institutions.

Confucius Institute to open in Sharjah

As part of the MoU between the universities, a ‘Confucius Institute’ will be established in Sharjah by the academic year 2025-2026 and facilitated by UOS. The institute is a language centre with branches around the world and will offer Chinese language courses and cultural programmes to promote educational and cultural exchange.

Stating the significance of the visit, Prof. Dr Al Nuaimi said: “We are honoured to be part of the esteemed Sharjah delegation visiting China and sign this MoU with Shandong University. The University of Sharjah boasts a comprehensive network of academic and research partnerships with numerous Chinese institutions, enabling a rich exchange of knowledge and ideas. Notably, we also recently celebrated the graduation of 30 students from the Arabic Language and Culture Programme, a collaborative initiative with the International Relations Office from Jilin University of Finance and Economics; and the Beijing University of Language and Culture.”

‘Sharjah Day’ showcases emirate’s features

During the visit to Shandong Province, the emirate’s institutions organised a ‘Sharjah Day’ event, which featured cultural and commercial activities to highlight Sharjah’s strategic location, advanced infrastructure, and investor-friendly regulations. The event, aimed to attract investors, businessmen, and tourists by showcasing Sharjah’s cultural project, heritage and economic advantages.

Visits to Shandong’s landmarks and natural wonders

During their two-day visit, the Sharjah delegation had the opportunity to explore Shandong’s rich cultural and historical heritage. They visited prominent landmarks such as the Shandong Cultural Center, Shandong Museum, and the Shandong Institute of Archaeology, gaining insights into the region’s vibrant past and present. The delegation also met with the Regional Culture and Tourism Department of Shandong, fostering collaboration in these vital sectors, and the opportunity to experience Shandong’s natural wonders, including the serene Daming Lake and the majestic Laoshan, showcasing the province’s diverse beauty and appeal.

Commenting on the cultural meetings, Dr Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, Chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage, said: ”This visit underscores the depth and breadth of UAE-China relations, exemplifying a harmonious balance between our two regions. It underscores the importance of communication between peoples and cultures, fostering mutual respect and benefiting from our collective achievements.”

Business potential

Including representatives from the Department of Economic Development (SEDD), the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, Sharjah Asset Management, the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP), Sharjah Airport, and Waqaya, a subsidiary of Beeah Group, the Sharjah delegation visited leading Chinese companies such as Inspur, Lino, Haier, and Hisense. They also engaged in discussions with representatives from the city of Zibo and visited the Chizhou Software Complex and Shandong Heavy Industry Group.

Hamad Ali Abdalla Al Mahmoud, Chairman of SEDD, said: “Our participation is an ideal opportunity to highlight the unique economic and investment components in the UAE, and Sharjah in particular, as well as the advanced infrastructure and economic stability which contribute to attracting investors from various economic sectors to the emirate. This, in turn, reflects positively on the economy and contributes to strengthening Sharjah’s position on the economic map. This participation also aims to review the various investment opportunities between Sharjah and China in order to search for aspects of mutual trade cooperation and develop economic relations, especially in sectors of common interest between the two countries.”