DUBAI, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Leaders and officials of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said their country welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit and sees it as an opportunity to enhance bilateral cooperation in all aspects.
Xi is traveling to the UAE on Thursday for a state visit at the invitation of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The visit will be the first by a Chinese head of state in 29 years.
UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was quoted by UAE state news agency WAM as saying the "historic visit" will celebrate the strategic relationship between the two countries and establish a new phase of fruitful cooperation and promising future.
"We have a strong economic relationship with the People's Republic of China and close cultural and social ties," he said.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said the strategic relationship between the two countries has yielded fruitful economic, trade and cultural results, WAM reported.
The UAE Minister of Economy, Sultan bin Saed Al-Mansouri, told WAM that the UAE and China enjoy high levels of dialogue and coordination.
"We believe that the growing levels of cooperation between the two countries will stimulate the growth of investment, trade and tourism, reflecting on promising prospects for further cooperation and mutual benefits in various strategic economic sectors," Al-Mansouri said.
Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al-Jaber, UAE minister of state and chairman of the National Media Council, said the relationship between the UAE and China is a long-term strategic one in political, economic, cultural, social and many other areas.
In a statement, Al-Jaber said: "The UAE-China relationship is rooted in the principles of mutual respect, constructive dialogue and meaningful cooperation to achieve their common interests in a variety of sectors."
Al-Jaber said the strategic cooperation between the UAE and China aims to realize the interests of both countries.
"The leaderships of the UAE and China are committed to working towards security, peace, stability, growth, prosperity and progress for humanity as a whole," he said.
The UAE is the first Gulf country to forge a strategic partnership with China. In recent years, bilateral cooperation has enjoyed comprehensive, result-oriented, efficient and rapid development.
China has been the UAE's largest trading partner for several consecutive years while the UAE has become China's second largest trading partner and largest destination of exports in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Chinese official statistics show that bilateral trade reached 41 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, a 1.06-percent increase from the previous year. In 2017, Chinese visitors to the UAE surged to over 1 million. In January this year, the UAE became the 11th country to have mutual visa exemptions with China for ordinary passport holders.
Huang Jang Zhang, president of the Chinese Business Council in the UAE, said Xi's visit will boost the political and economic ties between the two countries.
The economic ties between the two countries reflect their keenness to promote investments and development projects, Zhang was quoted by WAM as saying.
"The coming period will witness the establishment of new partnerships between Emirati and Chinese companies in many key sectors, such as industry, manufacturing, finance, culture, education, energy and agriculture," Zhang said.