Xi ends state visit to UAE with raft of deals signed

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan presents an Arabian horse as a gift to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday.—Reuters

This is to mark the celebrations of UAE-China Week, now underway until July 24, that includes a visit from Chinese president Xi Jinping in what will be one of the largest state visits that the UAE has ever hosted.

Working hard behind the scenes, the UAE's Presidential Palace is prepared to roll out the red carpet as soon as the Chinese premier steps on UAE soil.

A strategic cooperation framework between state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) and China National Petroleum Company was among the deals signed on Friday, the UAE company said.

The agreements and memoranda of understanding also played up Xi's signature Belt and Road Initiative and included a deal to allow state-owned financial services firm Industrial Capacity Co-Operation Financial Group to set up a lending platform in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE is also one of the 15 leading crude suppliers to China, exporting some US$4 billion (RM16 billion) worth of oil to Beijing previous year.

After the UAE, Xi will pay state visits to Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa, attend the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg, and visit Mauritius during a stopover.

Dubai Municipality had earlier announced that it has joined the celebrations of the UAE-China Week, being held from 17-24 July 2018 in honor of the Chinese president's visit to the country. About 60 percent of China's exports to the Middle East enter the region via the UAE, which itself accounts for about 25 percent of China's trade with all the Arab world.

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ADNOC announced on Thursday it had awarded two contracts worth $1.6 billion (1.4 billion euros) to BGP Inc, a subsidiary of CNPC, for a seismic survey in the emirate.

The newly signed deals come on the heels of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing last week, where Xi pledged US$20 billion in developmental loans to Arab States.

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.

"The UAE is a major Arab partner for China and this trip represents that", he said.

Tugrul Keskin, director of the Centre for Global Governance at Shanghai University, said the Middle East is vital to China's security and energy reasons.

"Instability in the Middle East will definitely have a negative impact on China's foreign and domestic politics that China can not ignore".

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