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Why UAE is appealing to Chinese residents Filed on July 17, 2018
Why UAE is appealing to Chinese residents
Dubai-based journalist Jade Zheng

An estimated 200,000 Chinese live in the UAE.

Twenty-year-old Yalan Ma, a student at American University of Sharjah majoring in Finance, has been calling Dubai her home for the past three years.

Previously, she has been travelling between the UAE and China every year as her parents have established trading business in the country 20 years ago.

"Dubai is actually a very famous tourist destination for Chinese travellers," said Yalan, whose family hails from Ningxia, in central China. "The city is well known for its high-end and luxury architectures plus its multi-ethnic cultures."

"Hundreds of thousands of Chinese come here every year to explore the country and after seeing its beauty and the opportunity, some made up their mind to settle here," added Yalan, whose parents run a trading company at Dubai's Dragon Mart. Their business is one the 4,000 registered Chinese firms in the UAE.

Yalan, who is a born Muslim, said the open and tolerant culture in the country is a big attraction for Chinese expats to live here (an estimated 200,000 Chinese live in the UAE).

She also sees a big opportunity in business as the average annual trade volume between UAE and China is around $50billion, which is expected to grow to $80billion in next two years, according to government figures.

Yalan also sees the fraternal ties between the UAE and China to develop further with the upcoming state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping from July 19-21.

"This will create a more positive environment for many Chinese people to come and live in the UAE. The UAE has a welcoming policy and so a lot of Chinese people see this as a good opportunity to come to the country and make a good future for themselves," she said.

Jade Zheng, former editor of Aviamost Chinese, added: "In fact, since the news has been out, everywhere I go, I hear people talk about it. The unique culture, hospitality, desert, economic environment and tourism appeals are very attractive to the Chinese people. Xi's visit will definitely boost trade, inter cultural exchange, education and tourism between the two countries."

Zheng is also one of the long-time Chinese expats living in Dubai. "Initially, I thought of working as journalist here for one or two years then return to China. But I got hooked by Dubai's charm and decided to stay," she said.

Zheng has been a resident of Dubai for eight years. Her close friend, Maggie Chen, 30, also sees herself becoming a long-time Dubai resident. "I love Dubai's international lifestyle, the ever booming opportunities and its various cultures," said Chen, who has been working at one of Dubai's shopping malls for four years.

For Liu Tao, 38, owner of China Way restaurant at Dragon Mart, Dubai is a good place to raise a family. He said: "My family has been living here for almost two decades. My eldest son, who is already 18, has grown up here."

However, Liu said that business competition has become very competitive throughout the years. "A lot of Chinese restaurants are coming up in Dubai and we have to compete with all of them," said Liu who established his first Chinese hotspot restaurant in Deira in 2000.

"But Chinese food is very popular in Dubai. We just have to be innovative to get ahead of the competition. Likewise, we expect more Chinese to arrive in the coming years and that means better business for us," he added. 

Angel Tesorero

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