By Sam Bridge
Ni Jian, the Chinese Ambassador to the UAE, says bilateral trade is expected to .maintain the momentum of rapid growth throughout 2020 and beyond'
Bilateral trade between China and the UAE reached $34.7 billion in the first nine months of 2019, up 6 percent, according to a top Chinese diplomat.
Of the total bilateral trade, China’s exports to the UAE amounted to $23.5 billion, up 9.9 percent, while imports from the UAE fell 1.4 percent to $11.2 billion due to lower oil prices in 2019.
Ni Jian, the Chinese Ambassador to the UAE, said in an interview with state news agency WAM: "China-UAE trade and investment are expected to maintain the momentum of rapid growth throughout 2020 and beyond."
He added: "In recent years, China and the UAE have maintained frequent high-level exchanges, and our cooperation in political, defence, economic, cultural, people-to-people and technological spheres has been elevated significantly across the board."
The ambassador said that between January and September last year, China’s direct investment in the UAE reached $660 million, a year-on-year increase of 171 percent, which also accounted for 54 percent of China’s investment in all 22 members of the Arab League.
Of up to 6,000 Chinese companies in the UAE, most of them are based in Dubai. Many large Chinese corporations have also stepped up their interest and participation in the UAE market, he added.
Jian highlighted the importance of the visit Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to China in July.
"Our cooperation in various areas such as infrastructure development, industrial capacity, engineering, investment and banking, has also deepened, further substantiating the China-UAE comprehensive strategic partnership," he said.
About 1.2 million Chinese tourist arrivals in the UAE in 2019 also shows the thriving cultural exchanges between both countries, Jian added.
The UAE hosts the largest number of Chinese businesspeople, workers and tourists in the Middle East – estimated at over 200,000 – and most of them live in Dubai and Sharjah.
Jian also said the interest in Chinese language is rising in the UAE with the initiative of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to teach Chinese in 200 UAE schools while there are over 200 educators teaching the Chinese language in more than 60 Emirati schools, and 50 more schools are scheduled to teach Chinese by September.