Xi's visit to UAE highlights China's rising interest in Middle East

China and UAE Sign Deals as President /xi Visits Abu Dhabi

China, UAE announce new trade zone ahead of Xi visit

The UAE's DP World announced the deal with the Zhejiang China Commodities City Group to build a "traders' market" at Dubai's Jebel Ali free zone. "Therefore, the UAE is an important second-tier country for China to develop its economic relations with", Keskin said.

China also won approval for the first Chinese state-owned financial services firm to be opened in Abu Dhabi's AGDM financial center, according to the UAE state news agency WAM.

Xi arrived here on Thursday for a state visit to the UAE.

The project is part of China's trillion-dollar "One Belt, One Road" infrastructure initiative, an ambitious plan to revive the ancient Silk Road trading routes with a global network of ports, roads and railways. Beijing has had to tread carefully, though, with Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as China also has close ties with their rival Iran.

More than a million Chinese visited the UAE in 2017 and trade reached almost $54.5 billion that year.

China and UAE Sign Deals as President /xi Visits Abu Dhabi

"We have many areas of political and economic agreement and a solid base of projects in the energy, technology and infrastructure sectors".

Upon their arrival, Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, were warmly received by the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. "More importantly (we have) a strong political will to start a greater phase of cooperation and integration", Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid wrote in a Twitter post in Arabic on Friday.

State-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. said it had awarded two contracts worth $1.6 billion (1.4bn euros) to BGP Inc., a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Co., for a seismic survey in the emirate.

People from all walks of life in the UAE are eagerly looking forward to Xi's visit, which they think will be of historical significance and will help further promote the development of bilateral strategic relations in a forceful way, said the UAE leaders.

Dubai-based property developer Emaar meanwhile announced plans to build the largest Chinatown in the Middle East in the UAE.

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