The UAE and China's economic, aviation and cultural ties are set for a major boost through a host of initiatives announced on Saturday as part of the Hala China plan, which will bring more investments and tourists into the UAE and vice-versa, according to senior UAE and Chinese officials.
"The whole UAE is motivated towards preparing the Chinese president. The visit has special importance and historical meaning and it will be a new milestone in relationship between the two countries. The three-year Hala China plan is not adding glory but also increase cooperation between the two nations," said Li Lingbing, Consul General of China in Dubai, during a Press conference attended by a number of senior representatives of Hala China partners who signed a cooperation agreement.
Mohamed Sharaf, chief representative of Meraas Beijing Office, said Hala China is intended to complement Dubai's rich calendar of events which has been created as a result of fantastic work by Dubai Tourism and other stakeholders.
Sharaf was speaking at a press conference to announce the establishment of board of directors of Hala Dubai initiative launched by Meraas and Dubai Holding earlier this year. Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, divisional SVP commercial operations at Emirates airline, will head the board of directors.
"One of the most important point of Hala China is the student exchange programme which offers Chinese students the opportunity to study at 27 academic institutions located in Dubai International Academic City. Through the programme, Chinese students will be able to take advantage of internship and job opportunities and return to China with a new perspective of Dubai's economy, culture and heritage. The exchange programme will be promoted by universities, schools and government educational institutions," he said.
Beyond that, cultural exchanges are also high on agenda, Sharaf said, adding that "We will be organising Chinese National Day Movie Week at Roxy Cinema in October; this will be accompanied by a special musical festival that will bring something new to Dubai to celebrate traditional and contemporary music."
Li Lingbing added that there will be a lot of celebrations during China week to be marked from July 17 to 21 during the upcoming visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to the UAE.
She stressed that the UAE has become the Middle Eastern country that has deepest collaboration with China.
She revealed that currently, there are over 4,000 Chinese businesses in UAE.
"The number of are too small and we need to add one more zero to it. We have over 200 flights between China and Dubai and tourists from China numbered 900,000 to Dubai in 2017 and if we add Abu Dhabi it was over a million."
Mohamed Sharaf said: "We are also encouraging collaboration in fashion sector; this will be achieved through new Chinese incubator with flagship stores as well as events such China Fashion Week and Kids Fashion Fair. Chinese designer, planners and photographers will be encouraged to participate in these fashion shows."
In addition, Sharaf revealed that they are also exploring opportunities for Chinese senior citizens to enjoy retirement and medical travel in Dubai with a number of entities from medical, hospitality and real estate sectors coming together to provide preventative medical treatment with accommodation options.
"The fast growing sports and entertainment sectors is another area that we are also exploring. We are committed to creating an annual schedule of experiences that will appeal to a broad range of Chinese visitors. We acknowledge the diversity that exists in terms of demographic and many cultures that have shaped China.
"We have also launched a dedicated concierge for Chinese visitors and residents in Mandarin language to inquire about tourism, investment, education, events and other activities. Visitors can ask for itinary about the city. Our aims to help Chinese visitors to feel confident when visiting the country," he said.
What does Hala China offer?
> Internship and job opportunities for Chinese students in Dubai
> Chinese National Day Movie Week in October
> Special Musical festival
> Chinese food competition
> China Fashion Week and Kids Fashion Fair
> Retirement and preventative medical treatment for senior Chinese citizens
> Annual schedule of events for Chinese visitors and residents
> Hotline and concierge services for Chinese tourists, residents in Mandarin language
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