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Home / Opinion / Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri

Hope springs eternal in the Year of the Tiger

By Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri | | Updated: 2022-01-29 06:30
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As Spring Festival draws near, workers at an industrial park in Yangzhao village of Jishan county, Shanxi province, are busy making red lanterns. [Photo by Gao Xinsheng/For]

Starting Feb 1, China's Year of the Ox will draw to a close and China's Year of the Tiger will arrive. In centuries past, this day would have ushered in 15 days of vibrant festivities, New Year delicacies and most importantly, time with families across China gathering together. Today, the Chinese Lunar New Year remains the country's most important traditional holiday and a resolute symbol of China's 5,000 years of history.

My country, the United Arab Emirates, recognizes and honors China's long history and traditional use of a lunar calendar. After all, Emiratis also have a similarly long history with lunar holidays, and still mark important Islamic days such as Eid and the Islamic New Year using the Hijri or Islamic lunar calendar. This similarity will undoubtedly warm the hearts of many Emiratis who come to visit China or Chinese friends who visit the Emirates.

The Year of the Tiger in 2022 will inevitably present many challenges to us all. Yet, there is much cause for celebration and hope. In the face of an ever-evolving global pandemic, close international cooperation such as between the UAE and China has continued to flourish, bringing concrete advances for our peoples. Our comprehensive strategic partnership fostered ever closer medical coordination over the past two years, resulting in impressive achievements such as the development of the Middle East's first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine. It has also empowered us to host international events that can bring the people of the world together.

The UAE-China Relationship

Today, China is the UAE's largest trading partner, while the UAE is China's largest export market and its largest non-oil trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa. While the UAE-China relationship is currently valued at $50 billion by trade volume, it is projected to expand to $200 billion by 2030.
As one of the first countries to join the Belt and Road Initiative and as a country with a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China, the UAE has grown to become the largest logistics hub for China in the Middle East. Approximately 300,000 Chinese expats and 6,000 Chinese companies presently operate in the UAE, spanning industries ranging from agriculture and petrochemicals to e-commerce and technology. Thanks to Chinese companies such as Huawei, the UAE is one of the first countries in the world to establish nationwide 5G networks.

Bringing the World Together Again
Since Oct 1 last year, the UAE has been hosting Expo Dubai 2020, the world's first major international cultural event since the outbreak of the global pandemic. The expo is a six-month international festival, bringing together 192 countries, as well as organizations, businesses, and leading education institutions to celebrate the powers of innovation, collaboration and inspiration to build a better future for mankind. The UAE has been deeply honored to host the first World Expo in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia regions. Naturally, China is in attendance, operating one of the largest pavilions at the expo.

Just as Expo Dubai 2020 built upon the achievements of China's Expo Shanghai 2010, I am confident the Beijing Winter Olympics will further advance the legacy China established with the very successful Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008. Global events such as the World Expo and the Olympics serve as the vital catalysts necessary to remind the international community of our shared beliefs in the endurance of the human spirit and its tenacity to overcome all obstacles, internal or external.

A New Model for Medical Cooperation

Over the past several years, the UAE and China have made great strides through our strategic partnership, a relationship spanning multiple areas and industries. Of note was our expanded cooperation during the campaign against COVID-19. Aided by the robust and invaluable network of trade and logistical links between our two countries, the UAE became the gateway for the flow of anti-viral equipment coming from China: first PPE, and then vaccines.
Subsequently, the UAE became the vaccination hub of the Middle East for China's Sinopharm vaccine. What's more, last March, the UAE made the historic announcement of beginning to produce the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine with G42, a leading technology company based in Abu Dhabi. The vaccine, branded Hayat-Vax, which means "life" in Arabic, is the first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine in the Middle East. This past December, the UAE approved the emergency use of Sinopharm CNBG's new recombinant protein vaccine. It was only through such cooperation with close partners like China that the UAE was able to successfully host a secure and healthy global event like Expo Dubai 2020.

With the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics swiftly approaching, China has already been well-prepared. In addition to its normal zero-Covid health policies, it has implemented an immense closed-loop system for Olympic athletes and other associated persons to participate in the various competitions and events. Through commitment to such stringent measures, China ensures it minimizes risk of further outbreaks among the local Chinese people or among the attending athletes.

The Future and the Year of the Tiger

On the eve of the Beijing Winter Olympics, China will soon usher in the Chinese New Year - the Year of the Tiger. In my view, this coincidence is especially auspicious, as I've learned the tiger is a symbol of strength and agility in Chinese culture, identical to the Olympic spirit that spurs us to be "Faster, Higher, Stronger and Together." I am confident this good fortune will carry these young Olympians and the Beijing Winter Olympic Games to great success.

Together, the UAE and China have demonstrated to the world the benefits of close international cooperation. I strongly urge all countries around the world to seize upon these Olympic Games as an opportunity to take pause and be inspired to advance a peaceful, prosperous future for all future generations.

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.

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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