The UAE will this week build on its economic, trade and cultural ties with China as it hosts president Xi Jinping and a senior delegation of ministers with a view to beginning a new phase of long-term, mutually beneficial, co-operation, its leaders said.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said: "We welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping in this historic visit that celebrates the strategic partnership between the two countries and establishes a new phase of fruitful co-operation and promising outlooks."
"The UAE currently hosts 200,000 Chinese citizens and 4,000 trading companies. We seek to build long-term economic, cultural, and trade and investment ties with China. We are happy to celebrate China's rich and continued historical culture on an annual basis," he said, according to Wam.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said China and the UAE play a pivotal role in the stability of the region and its economic future.
"Over 28 years ago, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan visited China, founded the strategic relationship between the two countries that has yielded fruitful trade and investment as well as cultural relations for more than three decades," he added.
China is an international commercial giant with a global political weight playing an active role in stabilising the global economy and attaining peace and security, he said.
Mr Xi's visit follows a number of exchanges going back decades.
The UAE's founding president, Sheikh Zayed travelled to China in 1990 and six months earlier, in December 1989, the then Chinese president, Yang Shangkun paid a one-day visit to the UAE as part of a trip to the Middle East.
In December 2015, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed wrapped up a three-day official tour of China declaring that it had been “outstanding”. In 2008, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid met with senior officials in China, and held several meetings across Beijing and Shanghai.
Mr Xi's visit includes a series of high-level meetings aimed at strengthening ties between the countries. Mr Xi is scheduled to visit Louvre Abu Dhabi and cultural exchange will be an important part of the week. Chinese cinema, literature, fashion and art will be celebrated as part of events at Manarat Al Saadiyat.
UAE-China Week will run from July 17 to 24, aimed at placing a spotlight on the bilateral relations between the two nations, and to enhance trade cooperation and cultural exchange. The UAE will celebrate UAE-China Week annually, coinciding with Chinese New Year celebrations.
An economic forum will be held in the capital on Friday evening, which will be attended by Sultan Al Mansoori, the Minister of Economy and Zhong Shan, China's Minister of Commerce.
Recent years have witnessed a rapid growth in the UAE-China economic partnerships, with the annual trade volume between the two countries exceeding US$50 billion, making the UAE for successive years the second largest trading partner of China in the world.
The UAE is also China's largest partner in the Arab region, with 23 per cent of the volume of Arab trade with China being acquired by the UAE. The number of Chinese tourists to the UAE rose 26 per cent year-on-year in 2016 to 880,000.
China's top four banks are also located across various branches in the UAE, and there are 100 flights a week between the UAE and China.