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UAE-China ties a model of global cooperation

By Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri | | Updated: 2021-04-02 09:06
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Visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) meets with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, on March 28, 2021. [Photo provided to]

Last week's high-profile conversations between the UAE and China have brought fresh hopes and possibilities to the post-COVID era. The Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's meeting with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, has monumental importance for inaugurating a new chapter in our historic and distinguished relations. The UAE and China relationship has become a model of global cooperation in the 21st century.

China's burgeoning relationship with the Middle Eastern region has been underpinned by interests within the energy sector, however, China and the UAE's comprehensive strategic partnership has evolved to encompass an ever-broadening range of collaborations, including joint projects and initiatives in renewable energy, logistics, infrastructure, life sciences, as well as next-generation information technologies such as artificial intelligence. The UAE is China's largest non-oil trading partner in the Middle Eastern and North African region. UAE-China trade volume has reached over $50 billion and the target is to expand further to $200 billion by 2030.

To ramp up the transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the UAE has embarked on a 50-year national development plan and 10-year industry strategy "Operation 300bn", with aspirations that the UAE would establish a world-class industrial ecosystem. This would enable a transformation of our economy that attracts talents, developers and experts from all over the world. Our ambition is to have a leading regional and global hub for future industries.

With the 14th Five-Year Plan, China is similarly striving to restructure itself into a digital and innovative economy. This common purpose will bring a wealth of opportunities for UAE-China exchanges in investment and technology. Recent large-scale economic joint projects include the UAE-China Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone and the Hassyan clean coal power plant. The UAE will also advance side by side with China in scientific and technological R&D, by setting up joint research institutions and labs. One of the most notable examples of cooperation is Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), which spearheads artificial intelligence, internet of things, machine learning applications and research.

With COVID-19 recovery an active topic of conversation in the global media, the foreign ministers of both UAE and China highlighted the importance of joint vaccination initiatives between the two countries. Until March 31, the UAE has provided up to 8.3 million doses of vaccines, which makes the UAE the second-most vaccinated country in the world. This speed attests to the success of our joint initiatives with China and the importance of solidarity during hard times.

On March 28, the UAE made a historic announcement to begin producing the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine with leading pharmaceutical company Julphar. The vaccine, branded Hayat-Vax, will be the first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine in the Middle East.

It is anticipated that the UAE's vaccine production capacity will eventually reach 200 million doses per year. This is in keeping with the ambition for the UAE to be the main regional distribution hub for vaccines. UAE and China are both active members of the World Health Organization's COVAX initiative, which promotes distribution of vaccines across the developing world. Abu Dhabi is also hosting the virtual World Immunization and Logistics Summit with global leaders in healthcare and philanthropy. Working with partners, the UAE pledges to develop a capacity to safely deliver 18 billion vaccines worldwide.

With safety protocols in place, the UAE is supporting upcoming plans by nations throughout the Asian region to restart tourism and travel sectors. As the two most prominent international events to reboot the post-COVID era, the UAE and China mutually supports each other's efforts to successfully host the Dubai World Expo and Beijing Winter Olympics, respectively. I visited the preparation site for Beijing 2022, and I was very encouraged by the staff and organizers' professionalism and enthusiasm. I can assure you that the UAE will give a warm welcome to all Chinese tourists and business people attending the Dubai Expo 2020. It opens on Oct 1, coinciding with China's National Day.

As the world recovers from the pandemic and communications can resume, the peoples of the UAE and China have also been drawn closer together. Last year witnessed the opening of Chinese School Dubai, which is supported by the UAE Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). There are currently 118 schools offering Chinese language courses nationwide, attracting more than 30,000 students. These numbers are growing quickly. As understanding between the peoples deepen, we will cement our friendship and unlock new avenues and possibilities for working together.

2021 is a big year for both the UAE and China. In December, the UAE is celebrating our Golden Jubilee since its foundation, while the Communist Party of China marks its 100th anniversary in July. This year we also commemorate our 37th year of diplomatic relations. At these important junctures, both the UAE and China are looking forward to accelerating growth of strategic industries whilst reinforcing economic resilience. With shared objectives, the UAE-China comprehensive partnership is bound to be increasingly fruitful. This will also serve to achieve peace and prosperity for all peoples of the Middle East and China.

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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