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Home / Opinion / Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri

An expo for broadening horizons and exchanging Ideas

By H.E. Dr. Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri | | Updated: 2021-09-27 07:30
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China Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. [Photo provided to]

Opening on Oct 1, Expo 2020 Dubai is a six-month global festival bringing together over 190 countries, as well as multilateral organizations, businesses, and leading education establishments, to celebrate the powers of innovation, collaboration and inspiration to build a better future for mankind.

While building on the achievements of China's Expo Shanghai 2010, Expo 2020 Dubai is the perfect antidote to the stressful challenges wrought by the pandemic. It is an opportunity to envision and experience the potential of a better post-COVID world, united under the theme of "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future."

The United Arab Emirates is both honored and proud to host the first World Expo in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, particularly as it coincides with the national Golden Jubilee festivities of the foundation of the UAE in December.

The site of Expo 2020 in Dubai.[Photo provided to]

Transforming for the future

Like China, the UAE firmly is committed to the transformation of our economy, an evolution driven by the innovation and progress resulting from people and ideas coming together in inspirational ways. In pursuit of this transformation, the UAE recently introduced a new national strategy, the "Ten Principles for the Next 50 Years", which are accompanied by "Projects of the 50". Through these principles and projects, the UAE commits to open trade and investment, ongoing development and proactive diplomacy. These objectives are very similar to China's national outlook for its future. It is this shared vision for a prosperous future that has helped forge the close cooperation between our two countries in many areas of endeavor.

China's large presence at the expo

Naturally, China has established an impressive presence at the expo, constructing one of the largest pavilions in attendance, a structure covering 4,636 square meters and known as "The Light of China". This lantern-shaped pavilion highlights the enduring symbol of Chinese culture over the past 5,000 years. The displays not only celebrate the classic inventions from China's storied past, but also project forward, anticipating technological achievements that will soon be a part of everyday life. The "Light of China" will use dazzling digital light shows and creative multimedia technologies to represent brightness, reunion and happiness.

Chinese companies are already deeply involved in preparations for Expo 2020 Dubai. Terminus Technologies from Beijing is a leader in smart technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics. Terminus will provide over 150 programmable robots to interact with visitors and enhance their experience during the expo. Subsequently, a R&D center will be established with a regional headquarter for the Middle East. From Shanghai, Atlas Capital Holding is building a blockchain campus of over 15,000 square meters.

The site of Expo 2020 in Dubai. [Photo provided to]

A dynamic enhanced strategic partnership

At present, China is the UAE's largest trading partner while the UAE is China's largest export market and the largest non-oil trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa. Currently, the UAE-China trade relationship is valued at over $50 billion by trade volume and is on track to expand to $200 billion by 2030.

The UAE was among the first countries to join the Belt and Road Initiative and we have raised our bilateral relations to the status of Enhanced Strategic Partnership with China. The UAE is now the largest logistics hub for China in the Middle East and a major destination for Chinese investment. It is estimated that the UAE is now home to about 300,000 Chinese expats while more than 60 percent of China's trade in the region now transits through the UAE.

Supported by BRI connectivity, more than 6,000 Chinese companies are presently operating in the UAE. Numerous MOUs have been signed, which have initiated new partnerships in areas such as food, services, petrochemicals, e-commerce, education and technology. The scope of our partnership is already expanding and diversifying, including climate change mitigation, food security, energy security, financial services and international humanitarian assistance. Thanks to a partnership with Huawei, the UAE is the fourth country in the world to establish nation-wide 5G networks.

The site of Expo 2020 in Dubai. [Photo provided to]

Close Bilateral Cooperation throughout COVID

These sustainable logistical links between our two countries have become invaluable over the last 18 months as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage global populations and shut borders. They enabled the UAE to become the gateway for the flow of anti-viral equipment coming from China - first PPE, and then vaccines.

As a result, the UAE has become the vaccination hub of the Middle East for China's Sinopharm vaccine. To date, more than 88 percent of the UAE's population has already received a free vaccine. In cooperation with Sinopharm, the UAE has begun producing Hayat-Vax, the first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine in the Middle East. While these are all already impressive achievements, it is projected that the UAE's vaccine production capacity will eventually reach 200 million doses per year, a splendid result of its fruitful relationship with China.

Expo organizers have made great efforts to ensure all attendees to Expo Dubai 2020 will have a safe and enjoyable time. Thirty thousand expo volunteers are to be vaccinated and prepared to guide visitors around the grounds, made-up of a diverse and inclusive mix of UAE residents and expats.

The site of Expo 2020 in Dubai. [Photo provided to]

Redefining world expos to come

The UAE is committed to building a meaningful long-term legacy from Expo 2020 Dubai. Therefore, we aim to set a benchmark for future world expos. More than 80 percent of the expo infrastructure will live on and continue to be used in the future city known as District 2020. Within six months following Expo 2020, District 2020 will be reconfigured to attract business – including that of Chinese companies such as Atlas Capital – tourism and will in part realize the vision of our founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to transform our arid country into an oasis.

District 2020 will only be one part of the road to the founding father's vision. To ensure that the advances made today are preserved, the UAE has made climate change mitigation an important focus of Expo 2020 Dubai. By taking strong measures to transition to renewable energy, the UAE has already become a regional leader for clean energy technology and cooperates closely with countries all around the world to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.

Inspiring innovation for all nations to embrace

From its opening on Oct 1, China's national day, and through the following half-year, Expo Dubai 2020 welcomes visitors from across the world to reboot the post COVID-era. Extensive planning has taken place to ensure safety for all, establishing strict vaccination and testing procedures. A warm welcome awaits all Chinese business representatives and tourists, who will be pleased to learn that Chinese-passport holders have been entitled visit the UAE visa-free since 2016.

The UAE and China have both shown the world what is possible through their remarkable transformation and progress over the past half-century. I sincerely believe that our continued relationship, inspired by Expo 2020 Dubai, will inspire the next generation and spark innovations that guarantee another 50 years of purposeful progress, contributing to our nations' continued prosperity and enabling growth worldwide.

The author is ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to China. The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.

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