China’s Deepening Arab Ties: The Dragon in the Desert

Reuters takes a look at China’s deepening economic ties with the United Arab Emirates:

If it weren’t for the veiled women and men in Arab garb, this could be a corridor in any of China’s factory cities, crammed with merchandise and the cacophony of electric toys.

Inaugurated in 2004, Dragon Mart, a retail property division of the Dubai government’s investment vehicle Dubai World, is one of the largest trading centers for Chinese products in the world outside China.

According to the Federal Customs Authority of the United Arab Emirates, non-oil trade between the Emirates and China reached around 42.6 billion dirhams in the first 10 months of 2010, up 3.4 percent from the same period in 2009.

There are almost 200,000 Chinese residents and more than 3,000 companies in the Emirates, according to the Chinese Consulate. That compares with an estimated total population in the Emirates of about five million.

“The Chinese economy is resource hungry, and there is a need to access Gulf markets,” said Mark McFarland, emerging markets economist at Emirates NBD in Dubai, who had previously worked in Hong Kong. “The commerce with China is a symbol of its rise as an economic power.”

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