Two sessions 2022: Inspirations for common actions
This is my fifth year attending China's two sessions meetings, the country's single most important annual political event. Like every year, I am impressed by China's deliberate planning and sound action plans.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still rampant around the world, 2022 is expected to be a turning point for all countries to tame this infectious disease. Since the beginning of the outbreak, the UAE has actively partnered with China on the manufacture of vaccines and their distribution. We provided our citizens and residents free access to the Sinopharm jab and managed to have over 95 percent of our population fully vaccinated as of March 2022. The Emirati government also approved the Sinopharm protein-based booster shot, which was made available to the public starting from January 2022.
The UAE takes pandemic prevention seriously and has effectively managed COVID peaks as they arose. The Expo 2020 Dubai, to be concluded on March 31, took special precautions to ensure the safety of guests visiting from the event's 192 participating countries. Organizers dutifully managed vaccination, PCR tests, masks, social distancing, and hygiene onsite. China has also successfully hosted the two sessions and Winter Olympic Games, whilst providing safety and comfort for both national and overseas participants. I appreciate all the dedicated organizers, staff, and volunteers for their dutiful work!
As emphasized by Premier Li Keqiang in the Government Work Report, China aims to open up on a wider and deeper scale in the course of 2022. The UAE currently ranks first as the most competitive emerging market among the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) and third globally, according to the annual Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index, which scores countries based on their logistics strength, business climate, and digital readiness. We are confident to partner with China in ensuring regional and global supply chain stability, with our proprietary ports, as well as our air and logistics capabilities.
China is our integral partner for an economic reboot post pandemic at full speed. According to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Development Index Report, the UAE ranked eighth amongst all participating BRI countries. I am grateful to see the fruitful progress of many of our continuous infrastructure collaborations. On March 1, China Railway Construction Corporation completed the final tracklaying of the 256km Dubai – Abu Dhabi railway line.
China is determined to reduce carbon emissions across the entire industrial value chain, and this effort also converges with the UAE's next steps. The two sessions meeting outlined priorities on new energy transitions, upgraded industrial technologies, and green financing. Similarly, the UAE government is setting out plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 while overseeing an AED 600 billion ($163 billion) investment in renewable energy. This investment is bound to create new growth opportunities and economic partnerships.
The Emirati government focuses on ensuring the diversity of power generation to reduce dependency on sole energy sources. In May 2021, the UAE inaugurated the Green Hydrogen Project, the first industrial-scale solar-powered green hydrogen plant in the Middle East and North Africa region, at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai. The project involves collaboration with Expo 2020 Dubai, which has sustainability as a pillar objective and features numerous clean energies, reduced water consumption, and waste solutions.
The UAE and China are both member countries of the "global village", and therefore uphold our joint commitments to future generations. China has been our foremost long-term partner in solar thermal, photovoltaic, clean coal, and seawater desalination infrastructure projects. Chinese companies have contributed to the success of projects such as the Hassyan clean coal power station and Al Dhafra solar power plant.
In 2023, the UAE will host COP28, which will revisit international sustainable development plans. We look forward to China's participation, as the country has played an active leadership role in global greening endeavors.
The Chinese government has also indicated many goals for social progress in 2022. These tasks include protecting women and children from criminal infringements as well as ensuring that the elderly and disabled are adequately cared for. The UAE believes these priorities are essential metrics for successful societies. For instance, we are keen to ensure female leadership and participation across all government agencies and sectors. Figures show that there are 50 percent female representation in the UAE Federal National Council and women contribute to 80 percent of the scientists at the UAE Mars mission team.
China recently unveiled its 14th Five-Year Plan for the disabled. At China's initiative, the UN Human Rights Council has proceeded to discuss the rights protection of vulnerable groups. This direction coincides with our actions in the UAE: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, issued its Law on the Rights of People of Determination (people with disabilities) in the Emirate of Dubai. The UAE also launched a complementary Digital School which aims to provide certified online education for one million disadvantaged students by 2026.
The UAE and China have much to trade, exchange and learn from each other. I am inspired by China's missions and find significant common ground for mutually beneficial actions. Traveling extensively across China in the past few years, I have witnessed the diligence and openness of the Chinese people.
With solidarity and common actions, 2022 will be a hopeful year of regeneration. I am confident that the UAE-China partnership and each country's economic growth will surpass pre-pandemic levels, especially as the UAE prepares for the next 50 years of development.
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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