Dubai in the spotlight as UAE strengthens ties with China

The first day of an event to showcase Dubai’s position as a global gateway for economic development and cultural exchange began today in Shanghai

Dubai Week in China: Shanghai kicked off with the signing of an agreement to increase trade and investment cooperation between the twin cities.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI) and Invest Shanghai set the tone for the event, co-hosted by Invest Shanghai and supported by the Shanghai municipal commission of commerce (SMCC).

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the UAE in 1984, the two countries have built strong and deepening bilateral ties.

China has been Dubai’s biggest trading partner since 2014 and it has been the second-largest trading partner of the UAE as a whole since 2011. China’s investment in the UAE is close to US$2.33bn, according to Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Attendees at the Dubai Week event include Abdulla Al Saleh, the Under Secretary of the UAE Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade and Industry Affairs, and Liu Min, the vice chairman of the SMCC. The event aims to build on the success of the inaugural Dubai Week in China in Beijing last year and create connections for future mutual growth.

“Dubai Week in China: Shanghai signals the importance the UAE places on our strategic partnership with China and that we are committed to collaborating on new opportunities and enhancing economic and cultural bonds between our two great nations,” said Mr Al Saleh, addressing more than 250 Chinese government officials, business and thought leaders, entrepreneurs and investors. “Strategically located at the crossroads of East and West – with a network of air, sea and road links which enable seamless connectivity with the world – the UAE is a global hub for trade, travel, finance and investment and a perfect partner for China and the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Tourism from China to Dubai is growing rapidly. In 2015, Dubai welcomed 450,000 Chinese tourists, an increase of 29 per cent on the previous year and 13 Chinese cities including Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as Hong Kong and Taipei, are connected to Dubai with more than 100 weekly flights.

“The Shanghai-Dubai relationship is flourishing and the increased cooperation between us is creating greater opportunities for cultural understanding and exchange which in turn is helping unlock economic growth,” said Ms Min.

Many UAE residents get a taste of Chinese trading culture at Dubai’s Dragon Mart, the world’s largest Chinese trading hub outside China. The enormous mall welcomes 120,000 visitors every day and of its 5,000 shops, more than 1,700 are run by Chinese retailers.

Dubai investment in China is also strong. Among numerous deals between China and UAE companies over the years, DP World signed an agreement this year to invest $1.9bn in ports at Tianjin and Quanzhou and it also has interests in Hong Kong, Qingdao and Yantai.

“With our two cities sharing a similar vision of a future built on innovation, finance, shipping and trade, there is tremendous potential to enter meaningful dialogue in the pursuit of common goals,” added Ms Min.

Commenting on the MoU signing, Fahad Al Gergawi, the chief executive of Dubai FDI, said: “The relationship with China is built on solid foundations. We look forward to working in partnership with Invest Shanghai to help facilitate mutually beneficial investments and take our levels of economic exchange and cultural understanding to new levels through opening more doors and creating more opportunities for Chinese companies to use Dubai as a platform for growth and expansion.”

Luo Zhisong, the director of Invest Shanghai, pointed to the growing presence of Chinese firms in Dubai.

“Ties are already strong – 4,200 Chinese companies operate in the UAE – and Chinese investment in Dubai is already significant across a number of sectors.”

China is the top trading partner with Jebel Ali Free Zone, with 2015 trade valued at $12.6bn.

“As both cities and their economies continue to expand, there is great potential and we look forward to working with Dubai FDI to help increase levels of collaboration in shared areas of strength such finance, shipping and trade,” Mr Zhisong said.

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