Burj Khalifa, Dubai's iconic skyscraper, has been lit up with a new LED show in the colors of the Chinese flag ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which starts on Thursday. The Arab country has seen an increasing number of Chinese elements such as Chinese-speaking staff in shops as it strives to attract more Chinese tourists.
Tourism is a core sector contributing to the UAE's economy. In 2017, China became Dubai's fifth-largest tourist source market, with a 41 percent increase in trips by Chinese tourists to the Middle East city.
The UAE is stepping up its advertising and promotional campaigns in collaboration with Chinese travel agencies. If the UAE can develop itself into a favorite destination for transit tourism, the country is likely to enjoy much stronger growth in Chinese tourist arrivals.
The UAE is located on the southern coast of the Arabian Gulf, and it's regarded as a regional hub and commercial capital for the Middle East and Africa. Because of its geographic advantages, the country has the potential to become a transit point for Chinese tourists headed to Africa. Even if Chinese tourists have only a day - or just a few hours - to spare, they can leave the airport on a transit tour for a taste of the local culture. Africa is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination among Chinese tourists. If the UAE can make itself a rest stop for those Chinese tourists, transit tourism is expected to bring a financial windfall for the country.
Efforts to strengthen interconnections between the UAE and other destinations in the region is the prerequisite for development in the UAE's transit tourism, and China's Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative will help the UAE achieve that goal. Earlier this month, the UAE announced plans to invest $10 billion in South Africa's tourism industry and some other key sectors. China's cooperation with the UAE via the B&R Initiative is based on common interests to promote regional economic integration.
Before long, the UAE can be not just an important regional hub for Chinese tourists, but also Chinese companies doing business in the Middle East and Africa. Interconnecting and interworking projects under the B&R framework will upgrade the UAE's status as a regional business hub for transportation, trade, investment and financial activities.