The UAE-China relationship in 2021: A golden year, a golden future: UAE Ambassador to China

BEIJING, The 2021 is a highly significant year for the United Arab Emirates and as the Emirati people stand in solidarity with global efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, ”we are also celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the UAE’s foundation on Dec. 2”, Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri, UAE Ambassador to China, said.

In an Op-Ed written for China Daily on the occasion of the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, Al Dhaheri said: ”The Golden Jubilee is a great milestone for reviewing the UAE’s achievements over the five decades. The country has been transformed from a society once reliant on the trading of pearls to a regional economic powerhouse, with technological and ambitions for space exploration. In 1971, the UAE’s total volume of GDP was valued at approximately $11 billion. By 2020, our GDP totaled $421 billion and enjoys a GDP per capita of approximately $43,000, one of the highest in the world.

These achievements did not happen in isolation, but rather through cooperation with like-minded neighbors, partners and friends like China. Our strategic partnerships and engagements with China are making investments into future generations, supported by our national initiatives like “Projects of the 50”, “UAE Net Zero by 2050” and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. These projects are the cornerstone for the UAE’s next 50 years of prosperity and sustainable growth.

This year marks the 37th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the UAE and China. The UAE is China’s largest export market and the largest non-oil trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa. Conversely, China is also the UAE’s largest trading partner.

Currently, our bilateral trade relationship is valued at $50 billion by trade volume and is on track to expand to $200 billion by 2030. This accelerated growth is in part due to the UAE being among the first countries to join the Belt and Road Initiative and our strategic comprehensive partnership. As a result, the UAE is now the largest logistics hub for China in the Middle East and more than 60 percent of China’s trade in the region now transits through the UAE.

In the past few years, more than 6,000 Chinese companies have located operations in the UAE and numerous MoUs and agreements have been signed, which have opened new opportunities in areas such as sustainable energy, food and energy security, financial services, education and international humanitarian assistance. The Emirati and Chinese peoples have grown closer through these commercial ties, in addition to our existing cultural and language exchanges.

Expo in the city of tomorrow Expo 2020 Dubai is an example of the UAE’s ability to be an international platform for global exchange. It is the first world expo held in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. As the largest cultural global event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UAE will welcome over 25 million visitors and 192 participating countries from around the world.

The theme of Expo 2020 Dubai is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, which is predicated on the belief innovation and progress are the results of people and ideas coming together in inspiring new ways. Echoing this theme, the UAE is committed to building a meaningful, measurable, and long-term legacy from this event. More than 80 percent of Expo 2020 Dubai’s infrastructure will live on and be continued to be used in the future city of District 2020.

China’s committed participation in Expo 2020 Dubai is also remarkable. The Chinese Pavilion, known as “The Light of China”, is one of the central attractions and showcases China’s finest achievements in the fields of science, technology and sustainability. The pavilion is expected to receive over two million visitors, physical and virtual.

The campaign against COVID-19 The mutual trust between the UAE and China has become invaluable over the last 21 months, enabling the UAE to become the vaccination hub and logistics link of the Middle East for China’s Sinopharm vaccine. In cooperation with Sinopharm, the UAE has been producing Hayat-Vax, the first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine in the Middle East.

To date, more than 90 percent of the UAE’s population has already received free vaccines. While these are already impressive achievements, it is projected the UAE’s vaccine production capacity will eventually reach 200 million doses per year.

Innovation and sustainability: Laying a foundation for the next 50 years Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s visionary founding father, first laid out the blueprint to transform our arid country into an oasis. In the spirit and honor of this vision, the UAE will host COP28 in Abu Dhabi next year.

COP28 will be a great opportunity for the UAE and the world, as we come together to share experiences, standards and technologies. Having announced our ambitious UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative, the UAE will further demonstrate our commitment and leadership for climate change among the Middle East and North African nations.

We have launched transformational domestic projects such as the widespread building of solar power plants, ushered in a national transition to eco-friendly EV cars, and have constructed several green cities. Emirati cities today already enjoy solar energy cheaper than any other traditional or alternative fuel sources, and will have access to carbon-free nuclear energy.

Beyond domestic efforts, the UAE has also extended visions for a green future and invested approximately $17 billion in clean and renewable energy projects across six continents.

A golden future On the date of my country’s Golden Jubilee, let us celebrate the progress achieved over these past five fortunate decades, as well as the profound friendship that exists between the UAE and China.

The Emirati and Chinese governments will continue to work to the synergy of our strengths. Whether it be cooperating to keep the world safe from COVID-19 or perhaps planning future joint manned missions to Mars, the future is bright so long as we work toward our shared future for openness, sustainable development and raising the living standards of our peoples.”

Source: Emirates News Agency

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