Dragon Mart traders upbeat about presidential visit to UAE

Chinese traders wish to see their president, hope UAE-China Week will attract more business

Dragon Mart on Hatta road in Dubai.

Dubai: Traders in Dubai’s Dragon Mart are upbeat about the Chinese presidential visit and the ‘UAE-China Week’, which begins today.

The news of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s three-day UAE visit from Thursday has brought excitement and cheer among the traders in the mall,

Speaking to Gulf News, some traders hoped that they would be able to see the president.

While it is not clear if the head of the state is likely to visit the largest trading hub for Chinese products outside mainland China, the traders said they are wishing for the President to pay a visit to Dragon Mart.

Hailing the UAE’s decision to celebrate UAE-China Week annually, coinciding with Chinese New Year celebrations, the traders hoped that they would also be able to attract more customers during the week with special offers.

Jia Jia, whose family runs a stone-carving and flower shop, said the Chinese community is excited about the President’s visit to the UAE.

“I was so excited when I heard the news. I felt this is how our country is showing they care for us … He is bringing love from China … Truly this was my feeling.”

She said the visit was the talk of the town. “Everyone was chatting about it. He is our big boss. It is a great feeling to know he is visiting the UAE.”

Mother of an eight-month-old girl, Jia said she badly wishes to see Xi. “We hope he will visit Dragon Mart and I will be able to show him to my baby though she wouldn’t recognise who it is. We never know. Maybe he will give us a surprise!”

Adoph Huang, who runs two shops, said he was full of hope that the president will make an appearance at Dragon Mart. “It is very difficult to see the President in China. But when he is coming here, we have a better chance.”

Fillip for business

He said the President’s visit will give a much-needed fillip to the business that has been dull in the recent past.

Though he also wished to see the President, Wang Wengeng, who runs an electronic accessories’ shop, was a bit apprehensive.

“It will be good for Dragon Mart if the President visits here … I also want to see him … but maybe it is impossible,” said Wengeng who claimed to have seen the then Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2006.

He said he happened to catch a glimpse of the former president when the latter visited a helicopter manufacturing company in which he worked earlier in China.

Wengeng hoped the China Week will attract more business.

“It takes too much of bargaining even to sell one item. It is a big headache. I think the management must be thinking of how to attract more customers. This is the right chance.”

Offering a unique platform for traders of Chinese goods in the region, Dragon Mart 1 is a 1.2km-long, 150,000 square metre dragon-shaped retail complex divided into seven zones with more than 3,500 outlets offering a wide variety of products. With one million square feet of retail space, Dragon Mart 2 features nearly 1,000 shops, restaurants and entertainment outlets.

Jia said the traders would be happy if they are allowed to hold a mall-wide sale during the UAE-China Week.

However, it is not yet clear if that will happen.

In a statement to Gulf News, the developer Nakheel noted that Dragon Mart is the central hub of Chinese activity — be it business or leisure — in Dubai.

“We are honoured and proud to be celebrating the presidential visit to the UAE,” it said, without elaborating on its plan.

Huang pointed out that the visit will offer a win-win situation for UAE and China.

“China is a very big country. Not many people there know much about the UAE. Now it is the time for us to let them know. With this one visit of the President, everyone in China will know about the UAE and the opportunities here.”

He expected more Chinese investors and tourists to come to the UAE. “I am sure this will attract Chinese people to even buy property here. They are known for buying homes around the world.”

At the same time, he said, he is happy that his country will be in focus in the UAE during the week. “It will be nice to see lots of activities highlighting China. We hope this will get us more business here in Dragon Mart.”

Second home

The traders said most of them have made the UAE their second home in the recent past while many plan to stay back here for long.

“My husband left his good job in China to come and stay here with me. Now this is our second home,” said Jia.

Hailing the visa reforms in the UAE, she said the Chinese people have been finding it easier to live and do business in the UAE over the past few years.

“When my dad first came here 10 years ago, things were not very smooth. He couldn’t even get most of our traditional food items in Deira where he lived. He would mostly have noodles or Indian food. Now, we have so many Chinese food outlets.”

The UAE has more than 4,000 registered Chinese companies and 200,000 Chinese residents, while the number of Chinese tourists to the UAE rose 26 per cent year-on-year from 600,000 in 2016 to 880,000.

China’s top four banks have branches in the UAE, and there are 100 flights a week between the UAE and China. Though she misses her country, which she hasn’t visited for nearly three years, Jia said she loves to live in Dubai.

“It is an open city. I like the traffic rules and the way people give respect to women and so many nationalities living in harmony. I want my daughter to study here, speak English.”

A father of two, Huang has been living in Dubai for 14 years. Though he initially planned to relocate his family from China to Dubai, he said now his plan is to send them to the US.

“But I will stay here and make money for them,” Huang said, laughing.

Wengeng said it is a good experience to live in the multi-cultural environment in Dubai.

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