ABU DHABI • China's President Xi Jinping held talks yesterday with top United Arab Emirates (UAE) leaders on ways of bolstering bilateral relations on the second day of a visit ahead of a three-nation Africa tour.
Mr Xi met the UAE Vice-President, Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashed al-Maktoum, who is also ruler of Dubai, and Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, the Crown Prince said on Twitter.
They discussed "strengthening strategic bilateral ties as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest with the Chinese President", he said.
The visit by Mr Xi - who arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for a three-day trip - followed the announcement of oil and trade deals between China and the UAE.
State-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) said on Thursday that it had awarded two contracts worth US$1.6 billion (S$2.2 billion) to BGP Inc, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), for a seismic survey in the emirate.
The survey is to search for oil and gas in onshore and offshore sites covering an area of 53,000 sq km.
State-run CNPC already has two concession rights contracts with ADNOC worth around US$3 billion.
The UAE's state-owned DP World also announced an agreement by the two countries to build a new trade zone in Dubai.
The deal between the global port operator and the Zhejiang China Commodities City Group will see a "traders' market" built at Dubai's Jebel Ali free zone.
The project is part of China's trillion-dollar One Belt, One Road infrastructure initiative, an ambitious plan to revive the ancient Silk Road trading routes with a global network of ports, roads and railways.
The new facility will cover 3 sq km at the Jebel Ali site, which is the Middle East's largest trade zone, DP World said in a statement.
The market will host a vast range of goods from food and cosmetics to building materials and tech-nology.
DP World, which operates in 40 countries, did not announce the value of the deal or provide a timeframe for its construction.
The UAE is one of the top 15 crude suppliers to China, exporting some US$4 billion worth of oil to Beijing last year.
Some 96 per cent of the UAE's oil reserves are located in Abu Dhabi.
In a further sign of strengthening ties between the two countries, Dubai-based real estate developer Emaar Properties on Wednesday announced plans to build the Middle East's largest Chinatown in the UAE.
Abu Dhabi is the Chinese President's first stop on a tour which also includes Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa.