2022 CIFTIS: Recognizing UAE's capacities in trade and services
Updated 11:45, 04-Sep-2022
Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri

Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for decision makers to share their insights on events shaping today's world. Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri is the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the People's Republic of China. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Since its initial launch in 2012, the China International Fair for Trade in Services or CIFTIS has steadily evolved into one of China's three primary platforms promoting economic liberalization and international cooperation. In 2022, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is attending the fair as the CIFTIS Country of Honor. As such, we are the first Middle East and North African (MENA) country to receive such distinction, a tangible recognition of the UAE and the Emirati people for their advanced capacities in trade and services.

CIFTIS, as the largest international comprehensive fair for trade in services, is an excellent platform for companies around the world to elevate their profile and to engage with peers. The UAE, in recognition of this great opportunity, will be presenting its national companies in the fields of aviation, finance, and advanced manufacturing at the UAE national pavilion at CIFTIS. Drawing upon rich historic traditions, representatives from Emirati cultural and tourism organizations will also be in attendance.

Today, CIFTIS has evolved into an inclusive, sustainable, and diversified platform, promoting economic globalization. Its success is reflective of the robust performance that Chinese trade in service has demonstrated in recent years, an indication of the resilience possessed by China's service sector. This strength conforms to the commitment Chinese authorities have maintained to the opening-up of the Chinese economy and the development of internationally competitive services. The UAE, like China, is another beneficiary of open and globalized trade as both countries share a similar, forward-looking perspective and vision.

A global model for economic transformation

In the past, the UAE has been known for its oil-driven economy. In recent decades, however, the Emirates have made substantial progress in transitioning away from reliance on fossil-fuel sales. Instead, the Emirati people have strived to transform our country into an influential force for science and technology, and we aim to become a leader in the early adoption of digitization across the MENA region.

Emirati efforts have not been in vain. The UAE's digital industries already comprise a tenth of its overall annual economic output and are on track to double to 20 percent of annual GDP within the decade. As a politically and economically stable country, the UAE has been ranked first in the areas of finance and taxation, the economy, advanced technology, and energy, according to the Yearbook of Global Competitiveness 2021.

This year for the first time, UAE non-oil foreign trade exceeded one trillion United Arab Emirates dirham (AED) in just half a year, a sum worth 60 percent of our national GDP in 2021. Increasingly, the Emirati people will be known for their expertise in innovation, the digital industries, professional services, and sustainable energy, rather than for resource extraction. These achievements have gone hand-in-hand with the UAE's continued evolution into an even more innovative, open, and vibrant society.

The UAE forward-looking agenda reinforces this upward trajectory, as outlined in our Vision 2021 and the Centennial Plan 2071 strategies, which have worked to position the UAE as a world-leading trade and investment gateway.

Thanks to its strategic geographic location, the UAE is directly connected to more than 250 cities around the world. Home to 10 civil airports, 27 airlines, 105 cargo companies, 12 commercial ports with a capacity of cargo tonnage of 80 million, the UAE is connected to a shipping network reaching over 400 cities. Dubai, the city of the future, exemplifies Emirati shipping capabilities, ranking among the top ten container ports in the world. It is no surprise that 60 percent of cargo destined for the Middle East and African states arrives via Emirati ports.

In addition to port and logistics infrastructure, the UAE boasts the most advanced digital infrastructure in the region, ranking first in the Arab world and eighth globally in the Online Services Index (OSI) by the United Nations E-Government Development, as well as seventh globally in the Telecommunication Infrastructure Index (TII). Investment continues without slowing pace. Site Selection Magazine's Global Groundwork Index for 2020 ranked the UAE third globally for investment in infrastructure projects and facilities.

The UAE national pavilion at the 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, capital of China, September 1, 2022. /UAE Embassy in China

The UAE national pavilion at the 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, capital of China, September 1, 2022. /UAE Embassy in China

Another dimension for fruitful cooperation

China, like the UAE, is a pioneer in technological innovation and the digital economy. Both countries are among the most advanced economies in the world in the development of digital industries and have already made great progress in the digitalization of their respective economies.

The UAE has always attached importance to maintaining close relations with China. After nearly four decades of friendship, our two countries have nourished a deep mutual respect for each other and have encouraged multiple exchanges at the highest levels. As a result, our partnership is more prosperous than ever, and the UAE and China have jointly accelerated cooperation in new and exciting areas. I believe that the digital economy will increasingly become a greater component in future fruitful cooperative efforts, under the auspices of the China-UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

In the recent years, our bilateral relations have benefited from continued, comprehensive, and rapid in-depth development. As the increasingly multipolar global community seeks innovative solutions to these rapidly rising challenges, clarity of vision and unity of purpose will be crucial for making progress. The UAE strives to work together with China and other like-minded countries, finding solutions to these urgent cross-border challenges and to re-energize global economic growth.

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