Abu Dhabi, July 21 (Xinhua) -- An economic forum on the business opportunities between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China was held Friday evening in the UAE's capital Abu Dhabi, as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to the Arab country.
The UAE-China Economic Forum, co-hosted by China's Ministry of Commerce and the UAE's Ministry of Economy, was attended by 450 officials and business representatives from the two countries, including Chinese Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan and UAE's Economy Minister Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori.
In his keynote speech, Zhong hailed the agreement to lift the China-UAE bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership during Xi's visit.
He pointed to the bright future for the pragmatic cooperation between the two countries against the backdrop of economic globalization and diversification, stressing China's determination to uphold global free trade against unilateralism and protectionism.
Zhong said a total of six UAE companies have so far signed up for the China International Import Expo scheduled in early November in Shanghai, China's main financial hub.
The Chinese minister also encouraged to further cooperation in the areas of energy, services and new and high technology under China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Meanwhile, Al Mansoori expressed his optimism and high expectation for the prospect of the comprehensive strategic partnership with China, the largest trading partner of the UAE.
He said the China-UAE economic cooperation covers nearly all key sectors including wholesale, finance, insurance and construction, as reflected in the record non-oil trade volume of 53.3 billion U.S. dollars between the two countries in 2017.
The UAE's minister linked the UAE 2021 Vision, a national knowledge-based campaign to rely on its own talent to achieve significant economic changes, to China's BRI, adding that the UAE can become the key westward gateway for the Chinese initiative.
Proposed by China in 2013, the BRI refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road trade routes to seek common development and prosperity.
The UAE welcomes investments from Chinese enterprises, especially in the sectors of scientific and technological innovation, advanced manufacturing and infrastructure, Al Mansoori noted.
The economic forum was highlighted by the power-point presentation of Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama, UAE's minister of state for artificial intelligence, as he harked back to the exchanges between China and the Arabian Peninsular through the ancient Silk Road about 1,500 years ago, while looking forward to learning from China in developing artificial intelligence (AI).
"China is leading in the field of AI, especially in the big data," he said.
Al Olama spoke highly of China's tech giants including Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu, Xiaomi and Huawei, expecting further cooperation on digital visual technology, driverless traffic and advanced robotics.
He also praised China's leading digital economy, exemplified by Wechat, a Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment application developed by Tencent.