written by Caline Malek on December 21, 2017
Emiratis will soon be able to travel to China visa-free thanks to an agreement signed between the UAE and China on Tuesday.
The deal exempts UAE nationals carrying regular passports from obtaining pre-entry visas, with the possibility of staying for up to 30 days on each visit, starting from January 16, 2018.
“The move by the Chinese government reflects the stature attained by the UAE and contributes to strengthening bilateral relations and opening new avenues for growing tourism and trade between the two friendly countries,” said Ahmed Al Dhaheri, assistant under-secretary for consular affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. “The UAE has become a model for good governance, moderation and peaceful co-existence and a symbol for achievement and excellence at the international levels.”
The UAE and China established diplomatic relations in November 1984. In 1987 the UAE opened its first embassy in Beijing followed by consulates in Hong Kong in 2000, Shanghai in 2006 and in Guangzhou last year.
In turn, China opened its embassy in Abu Dhabi in April 1985 and its consulate in Dubai in November 1988.
The UAE is an increasingly popular destination for Chinese tourists, with between 800,000 to a million visiting the country in the past year, up from 600,000 in 2016 and 450,000 in 2015.
In contrast only 10 000 Emiratis visited China in 2017, says the Chinese embassy.
In September, China opened its first Middle East’s visa application centre in Dubai.
The country has been Dubai’s biggest trading partner since 2014 and it has been the second-largest trading partner of the UAE as a whole since 2011.
Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $45 billion last year and Chinese companies have increased ties with secure and stable countries in the Middle East such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia in recent years.
A total of 13 Chinese cities including Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as Hong Kong and Taipei, are also connected to Dubai with more than 100 weekly flights.
UAE residents are also able to get a taste of Chinese trading culture at Dubai’s Dragon Mart Mall, the world’s largest Chinese trading hub outside China. The massive mall welcomes 120,000 visitors every day and of its 5,000 shops, more than 1,700 are run by Chinese retailers.