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Home / Opinion / Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri

Golden era of China-UAE relations

By Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri | | Updated: 2019-12-02 08:41
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Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, capital of China, July 22, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

On December 2, the United Arab Emirates marks its National Day every year. This year the day is especially important for me and my country as we are celebrating the 48th anniversary of its founding. On this day, we remember the establishment of the UAE – a collection of seven Emirates (or states). As well as an opportunity to celebrate our young and dynamic nation, this anniversary provides an opportunity to consider how far we have come in building upon our foundations and the respective progress we have achieved.

This is a particularly momentous year as it is the 35th anniversary of bilateral relations between China and the UAE. For China of course it is also a noteworthy year with the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

When we take stock of the rapid progress of the UAE, we can see that it is quite dizzying, as its dynamic and diverse economy and cities have rapidly developed within a few short years. The nation's GDP has expanded more than eight times since 1990.

The UAE is a developing nation like China and their similarities underpin a golden era of cooperation and friendship between our nations.

Such work is evidenced through increased bilateral cooperation, driven forward by shared values and mutual trust, which is the cornerstone of discussions between high-level meetings by our wise leaderships and increased cooperation between our businesses and our peoples.

Advanced levels of cooperation flowered more after President Xi Jinping made a state visit to the UAE in July 2018, where together with the UAE leadership, a Comprehensive Strategic partnership was established. This relationship was refined during the visit to the Belt and Road Forum by Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The partnership was deepened still further by the state visit to the People's Republic of China by Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Much of the work that China and the UAE are carrying out together is upon the foundation of the Belt and Road Initiative. The two countries are rapidly building up from this to more refined areas of cooperation, which is increasingly moving up the value chain to more advanced science and technologies.

For instance, in energy, we are proud that both countries are moving forward toward their greener vision of the future and toward the Paris Climate Accord. China is a stakeholder in the UAE's move toward carbon neutrality. Noor Abu Dhabi is the world's largest single-site solar project with a capacity of 1,177MW. This is a joint venture with a consortium featuring China's Jinko Solar Holding. The project will enable Abu Dhabi to increase its production of renewable energy and reduce the use of natural gas in electricity generation, helping to make energy more sustainable and efficient and reducing the Emirate's carbon dioxide emissions by 1 million metric tonnes per year, the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars off the roads.

China is also working alongside the UAE for the largest single-site solar park in the world based on the independent power producer (IPP) model - the 800MWPhase 3 of Dubai's Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. Shanghai Electric is collaborating with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and ACWA Power, to support this project. The Chinese Silk Road Fund reached the financial close of the 950MW fourth phase and the financing for the 950MW solar park reached $2b.

China's Silk Road Fund has also been financing infrastructure projects in the UAE. For instance, the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Park in Khalifa Port, in our capital Abu Dhabi, is strengthening international industrial capacity cooperation between our two countries. Here, the Etihad Aviation Group and the Jiangsu Provincial Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company Limited are working together hand in hand.

As our countries evolve in tandem, so too does our cooperation. The UAE will be a major supply link to the Belt and Road Initiative with further development its logistics and shipping sectors. We are delighted that Chinese wholesale company Yiwu will now be involved in our new 5.5 million square meters logistics station, the 'Traders Market', including a $2.4 billion investment. This plan will store and ship Chinese goods from Jebel Ali port to the rest of the world and will be close to the Expo 2020 Dubai site.

As each nation accelerates into development, both are reaching for the stars. In space technology, China and its recent Chang'e 4 mission had the first soft landing on the far side of the Moon. Like China, the UAE aspires to conduct missions to Mars. The Emirates Mars Mission will blast off from Earth in July 2020 and is set to arrive at Mars in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. Our country looks forward to future opportunities with China in this field and is proud to join the growing family of technologically advanced nations exploring space.

For advanced technologies, our nations are moving into advancements at a similar rate. The Mohammed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence features Chinese academia and Chinese businessmen upon its board should prove greatly valuable to the China-UAE relationship as it will deliver great strides toward understanding and advancements in artificial intelligence. We can join our global partners including China to cooperate in advancements in artificial intelligence technology.

The energy element of cooperation will continue to be a significant pillar of the relationship between our countries. There will be more added-value business cooperation both upstream and downstream including refining and petrochemicals as well as added-value commercial partnerships along the supply chain.

Only this year, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and China National Offshore Oil Corporation have signed an agreement to collaborate in the energy sector with the world's largest oil importer. The agreement covers ultra-sour gas development in Abu Dhabi, exploration for offshore hydrocarbons and the sale and purchase of liquefied natural gas, of which China is the largest buyer in the world.

The UAE, like China, has an ancient heritage stretching back centuries, yet is, at the same time, a young, dynamic and energetic nation. This was expressed beautifully at our National Day event where we were kindly permitted to display a priceless Jade Camel courtesy of the Jade Museum. As precious as the China-UAE relationship, this Jade Camel is over 1,400 years old and dates from the Tang dynasty, at a historical time of strong trade flows between Chinese and Arab civilizations.

We are now renewing our ancient bonds for the modern era, as we build up from $70 billion in China-UAE bilateral trade flows, targeting $100 billion by 2020 and $200 billion by 2030. Our bilateral visits of leaders and trade delegations are merely laying the groundwork for the golden era of trade and relations for a great many years to come.

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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