Emaar Properties, Dubai's top listed developer, plans to build the Middle East’s biggest ‘Chinatown’ shopping complex in the emirate and expand its Address hotel brand across China.
“The development of the new Chinese retail and lifestyle district at Dubai Creek Harbour – as well as Emaar’s expansion into China, both in property and hospitality – highlight our commitment to the country and our focus on contributing to the strength of UAE-China relations,” said Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, in a statement on Wednesday.
The announcements come a day before Chinese President Xi Jinping begins a three-day state visit to the UAE. The Chinatown development will compete with Dragonmart, the Chinese mall built by Dubai-based developer Nakheel.
The UAE and China share strong bilateral trade and cultural relations, helped by the presence of more than 200,000 Chinese expats in the UAE and thousands of Chinese visitors the nation welcomes annually, Mr Alabbar added.
Dubai is boosting its profile in China to attract more tourists after their number surged to 401,000 between January and May, a 9 per cent rise from the same period in 2017. The uptick pushed China to fourth spot among the emirate’s global source markets after the UAE eased visa rules for Chinese nationals in 2016, according to figures from Dubai Tourism.
The planned Dubai Chinatown retail and leisure precinct will be located within the six square kilometre Dubai Creek project, and more details will be revealed over the coming months, Emaar said.
The company will also expand its premium luxury hotel and serviced residences brand, Address Hotels + Resorts, to China.
“Discussions are ongoing to develop and operate Address branded hotels in key cities in the country, given the strong appeal and familiarity that the brand enjoys among Chinese tourists,” Emaar said.
Mr Alabbar told CNBC Arabia on Tuesday that Emaar plans to sell non-core assets including its hospitality portfolio bar a handful of key valuable assets – to finance business growth.