Chinese president Xi Jinping visits UAE amid push to increase influence

Blanche Robertson
July 21, 2018

China and the United Arab Emirates signed a raft of financial, business and trade agreements on Friday during a visit by President Xi Jinping to the UAE, underscoring energy-hungry Beijing's rapidly growing interest in the Middle East.

Dubai's iconic Burj al-Arab adorned China colors on Wednesday evening as the country prepared to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday.

The UAE sent 12 F-16s and Mirage aircraft to escort the Chinese leader's plane into Abu Dhabi on Thursday and gave Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan a 21-gun salute on arrival. The uptick pushed China to fourth spot among the emirate's global source markets after the UAE eased visa rules for Chinese nationals in 2016, according to figures from Dubai Tourism.

"Discussions are ongoing to develop and operate Address branded hotels in key cities in the country, given the strong appeal and familiarity that the brand enjoys among Chinese tourists", Emaar said.

Mr. Xi, his Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and other Chinese officials held morning meetings on Friday with Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, the crown prince of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktuom, and others at the presidential palace in Abu Dhabi.

A 21-gun salute was sacked while Xi and his wife Peng inspected the guard of honor.

On behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese people, Xi sent honest greetings and good wishes to the UAE government and the UAE people.

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China's commerce minister Zhong Shan said that his country was ready to cooperate with the UAE to promote globalization.

Xi said that he has felt the enthusiasm and friendliness of the UAE people as soon as he had arrived in Abu Dhabi, and that he was deeply moved by that.

The Chinese president said he looks forward to exchanging views with the UAE leaders in an in-depth way on advancing bilateral relations.

The UAE vice president and the crown prince warmly welcomed Xi's state visit, calling Xi an old friend and a good friend of the UAE people.

"This is a historic visit and represents a new stage of cooperation in all fields, which will bring growth, development and prosperity to the people of our nations", said the crown prince of the UAE capital.

After his three-day stay at the Gulf state - the first by a Chinese leader in almost three decades, Xi will head to Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa for the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, before stopping over in Mauritius on the way home. But Senegal, Rwanda and Mauritius were not among Chinese top partners in the continent.

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