Obaid Ali Al Dhahiri, UAE Ambassador to China, and Ni Jian, Chinese Ambassador to UAE, who gave their speech are seen in a discussion during the Symposium on China-UAE Relations at ECSSR Auditorium in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Photo: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News (story: Samir)

Abu Dhabi: The state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the UAE will chart the future course of the strategic partnership between the two countries, envoys said on Tuesday.

Ali Obaid Al Daheri, UAE Ambassador to China, said President Xi’s visit to the UAE is a historic trip and is associated with high ambitions that it will take the strategic relations to higher levels.

Al Daheri told the audience at a symposium held at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) that many agreements are expected to be signed during the visit that will further enhance the UAE-China ties, and boost the strategic and long-term vision of the two countries.

“A lot of bilateral agreements are to be signed (during the visit), not one agreement. The plate is very full,” Al Daheri.

Al Daheri said at the symposium themed ‘Prospects For UAE-China Relations’ that the expected deals are of strategic nature and will enhance the economic relations in various fields.

He said the UAE hopes the current economic figures would increase multifold, and the bilateral relations would continue to grow.

In the early eighties, the trade volume between the two countries was around $60 million. Today, it is more than $53 billion, Al Daheri said.

“Trade between the two countries last year reached around $53 billion (Dh194 billion). China is the biggest trading partner to the UAE, and the Gulf state is China’s largest non-oil trading partner and an important gateway to Africa and Europe,” he said.

Al Daheri added the UAE is also a strong supporter of China’s Belt and Road Initiative which aims to connect Asia with the Middle East, Africa and Europe through a network of trade routes, including railways, roads, pipelines and utility grids.”

Earlier this year, UAE citizens were exempted from pre-entry visa to China and now are allowed to stay for 30 days. The decision came after the UAE announced it would grant Chinese citizens visa on arrival in 2016.

“This is a great step to bring the two peoples closer,” said Al Daheri.

Ni Jian, Chinese Ambassador to the UAE, said the Chinese President’s visit marks a milestone in the UAE-China relations with great political, historical and strategic significance.

“It will be a visit of friendship, a visit of cooperation and a visit that will chart the course for our future ties,” the Chinese envoy said.

Stressing that the China-UAE relationship is at its best, ambassador Ni said the state visit of President Xi will be the first made by a Chinese head of state to the UAE in nearly 30 years. (The last visit was in 1989).

He added the two countries are joining forces to advance the Belt and Road Initiative and create a community with a shared future for mankind.

Ambassador Ni praised the China-UAE relationship as an exemplary model of mutual respect, friendship and win-win cooperation.

Nearly one million Chinese visited the UAE in 2017. According to the Chinese Embassy in Abu Dhabi, 10,000 Emiratis visited China in the same year.

There are some 100 flights a week by UAE national carriers, Etihad and Emirates, to several Chinese cities.

It is estimated that nearly 200,000 Chinese nationals are living in the UAE, while there are nearly 4,000 Chinese businesses operate in the Gulf state.