Twin cities bolster economic and cultural ties at Dubai Week in China

Dubai FDI and Invest Shanghai agree on trade and investment on first day of Dubai Week in China

An agreement to increase trade and investment cooperation between Dubai and Shanghai set the tone for what hopes to be the first in a series of economic and cultural exchanges between the two cities, during Dubai Week in China.

The first day of the three-day event, initiated by Falcon and Associates and supported by the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce (SMCC), saw an MoU signed between Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI) and Invest Shanghai, also a co-host of the event.

“Dubai is a city of opportunity with a diverse and robust economy,” said Luo Zhisong, Director of Invest Shanghai. “Ties are already strong – 4,200 Chinese companies operate in the UAE – and Chinese investment in Dubai is already significant across a number of sectors. As both cities and their economies continue to expand, there is great potential and we look forward to working with Dubai FDI to help increase levels of collaboration in shared areas of strength such finance, shipping and trade.”

This collaboration was the starting point for the event, which aims to build on the success of the inaugural Dubai Week in China in Beijing last year. In their opening remarks, His Excellency Abdulla Al Saleh, Under Secretary of the UAE Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade and Industry Affairs, and Mdm Shang Yuying, Chairwoman of SMCC, celebrated the thriving relationship and potential for future mutual growth between the two cities.

“Dubai Week in China: Shanghai signals the importance the UAE places on our strategic partnership with China and that we are committed to collaborating on new opportunities and enhancing economic and cultural bonds between our two great nations,” said His Excellency, addressing more than 250 Chinese government officials, business and thought leaders, entrepreneurs and investors.

“Events like this contribute enormously to bilateral relations and take long-standing ties to new heights – especially in a dynamic city such as Shanghai. No one can deny the economic growth witnessed by Shanghai and this city is a melting pot of culture. At the same time Shanghai’s increasing economic power and China’s rapid economic development is remarkable. The UAE attaches great importance to increasing its economic and investment partnership with China.”

“With our two cities sharing a similar vision of a future built on innovation, finance, shipping and trade, there is tremendous potential to enter meaningful dialogue in the pursuit of common goals,” added Mdm Shang.

A series of high-level panel discussions on sectors ranging from Expo 2020 Dubai to infrastructure and the Belt and Road initiative featured senior figures from Dubai’s leading entities.

Representing Strategic Partner, Expo 2020 Dubai, Manal AlBayat Vice President of Engagement said the Expo was a “global window for Chinese business’ innovations, exports, products and services. We are on the hunt for solutions that generate real value, the kind that leave a mark on all mankind, the kind that leave a legacy”, she said. “Expo 2020 is a search not just for the right answers – but for asking the right questions.”

Legacy of Expo 2020 was a key talking point for Gillian Hamburger, Vice President of Commercial, who said pioneering “incremental and breakthrough relations” would be the product of unexpected connections wrought by 180 nations coming together at the ambitious event.

“World Expos are defined by what they leave behind”, AlBayat said. “From landmark structures to transformed perceptions. It’s about breaking down barriers between people, building bridges between future and present and creating the future.”

Beyond Expo 2020, continuing to build Dubai’s world-class infrastructure creates a unique environment for Chinese companies to drive growth in the Middle East, Africa and beyond, and opportunities to forge closer ties between the twin cities, said Khalid Al Marzooqi, Head of Asia Pacific, Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA). “We would like to place Dubai as the logistical hub for the Middle East and Africa and provide much needed hard and soft infrastructure for China”, he said.

“Dubai is a service-oriented city. We do the networking and bring everyone to link in Dubai, to network, and to use Dubai’s financial services. In the free zone we have built many warehouses and logistics services and small factories to make more efficient business for the Chinese by reducing the total cost to their logistics and to make a new market, new buyers for them. In 2008 I said we only had 65 Chinese companies, today we have 208 companies. The investment of Chinese before was mainly exporting but now there’s more direct investment."

Of course, the Belt and Road initiative is crucial to this relationship, emphasised Chief Executive Officer of Dubai FDI, Fahad al Gergawi. “It’s a no-brainer to look at Dubai right now as a pivotal location for the upcoming Belt and Road initiative”, he said.

“The dynamic of the city allows it to give that extra push in terms of helping China expand into other markets. Traders originating from emerging markets which the Belt and Road initiative will touch are already in Dubai, and have proved that they are dynamic and their exchange of products and services will continue.”

Elsewhere, spokespersons from Official Partners included: His Excellency Hisham Al Shirawi, second Vice Chairman of Dubai Chamber; Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC; Gautam Sashittal, CEO of DMCC; Issam Kazim, CEO of DCTCM; and Graham Kiy, Regional Vice President for Greater China and General Manager of Jumeirah Nanjing, Jumeirah Group.

Also represented in the Dubai delegation at the event staged across The Langham Hotel and The House in the bustling Xintiandi district, were Supporting Partners: Dubai Duty Free, DIFC Courts, Emirates and KHDA, while Dubai Sports Council, Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management and Emirates Aviation University are also participating.

Liu Min, Vice president of Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce eloquently summarised the three hopes for the two cities based on "the history of collaboration" established on the ancient Silk Road.

Firstly, that Dubai and Shanghai will further the flourishing Free Zones corporation. “We encourage Shanghai to collaborate with free zones like Jafza. Meanwhile we hope to share experiences and help with Dubai (regarding) Expo”, she said.

Secondly, that Dubai and Shanghai expand the scale of its investment, as Dubai is the gateway for Shanghai-based SMEs and international organisations alike to access the MENA region.

Finally that Dubai and Shanghai explore the great potential of collaboration in science, finance, tourism, and trade, she said.

“Shanghai has its science and innovation centre, Dubai also has its advantages, we welcome all kinds of international innovative co-operation between the two places.

“The ancient Silk Road witnessed the history of collaboration, and now we are entering the new development phase. Shanghai hopes to work with Dubai to seize the opportunity brought by the Belt and Road initiative.”