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‘The time is now’: Emirati and Chinese investors eye increased collaboration

‘The time is now’: Emirati and Chinese investors eye increased collaboration
23 Apr 2024 09:04

KHALED AL KHAWALDEH (ABU DHABI)

In 2016, the Dubai Chamber opened its first office in China’s financial capital, Shanghai, to bolster increased collaboration between the two-growing economies. Since then, the Asian powerhouse has grown to be the Emirates largest trading partner, but investors and businesses are now eyeing even deeper ties centred around capital markets and industrial collaboration.

At an event held at the Dubai Chambers’ Deira Headquarters on Monday, Chinese and Emirati investors, businesspeople and officials met to discuss new investment opportunities in Shanghai’s prestigious Jiang’an district, and connect trade and industrial partnerships.

“It’s prime, the time is now, it’s a great time because there’s a need on both sides. We need them and they need us. So, it’s a very complementary discussion,” Hamdan Zakaria Doleh, head of the China Innovation Centre in the UAE told Aletihad on the sidelines of the event.

“We need new technologies and to transfer knowledge, we want new ideas and brands, nowadays wherever you go whether Dubai or anywhere else, it’s becoming quite similar so we want to bring retail brands from China to the Middle East to offer different flavours in the options and choices customers have.”

“It goes both ways as Chinese companies come and set up in Dubai and the UAE, with many taking advantage of the financial markets and doing second listings on UAE exchanges.”

Dolah comments were echoed by the Dubai-based CEO of Mathlevi Consulting, Bin Peng, who said the country had emerged as a favourable location to conduct business particularly in the post-COVID era. Originating from Shanghai, Peng believes the city he now calls home is increasingly seen as a gateway to the world by his fellow compatriots.

“The relations between UAE and China have reached the highest level this year. I’m saying this, because over the last 10 to 20 years, a lot of Chinese companies, preferred business with Western countries. But after COVID, there’s been a change because of the geopolitical issues, the industry shift and transformation of technologies.” Peng told Aletihad.

“A lot of Chinese companies, they are not satisfied with the domestic market anymore, they want to do more international business, so Dubai is the gateway for the companies to expand to the Middle East and even the Western world.” Peng, said there were abundant opportunities, particularly for the establishment of manufacturing facilities in the UAE, as labour costs back home rose.

He said this presented an opportunity for the Emirates to establish a thriving industrial base. Moreover, he believed the increasing transparency of the country’s capital markets, mainly through the Dubai Financial Market and Abu Dhabi Global Markets, was bringing wary investors onboard.

The strong interest of the Chinese business community espoused by Peng was on full display on Monday, where the room was packed with first time visitors to Dubai keen to leave a mark.

Daniel Wang, the CFO of Shanghai-based Ping An Asset Management, was in the UAE on a tour of Dubai and Abu Dhabi searching for deeper ties with the region. He told Aletihad that whilst he did not have any customers in the country yet, he felt optimistic that collaboration was on the horizon.

“We got a very deep first impression of the UAE through Dubai, it’s a very international and dynamic city but also is a traditional Arab country. So, this gives us a great interest and it is very attractive,” he said.

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