China-UAE industrial zone sees first operational project
In the Khalifa Industrial Zone in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, one building is particularly eye-catching, featuring facades decorated with red patterns that resemble Chinese seals. It is situated amid modern new factories, with asphalt roads extending in various directions.
The landscape is part of the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone, a landmark cooperation project between the two countries under the Belt and Road Initiative.
The demonstration zone, with a total planned area of 12.2 square kilometers, is aimed at promoting bilateral cooperation in areas such as high-end manufacturing, new energy, fine chemicals, warehousing and logistics, metal processing and other industries. Construction began in May 2018, with an initial area of 2.2 sq km.
After four years of construction, the park management service center and the customized factory buildings have been officially put into use, while the living service area has been completed along with an internal road and pipe network measuring 8.5 km. Alongside the infrastructure, 80,000 square meters of buildings have been constructed so far.
It is estimated that by mid-2023, all the infrastructure projects in the zone will have been completed, said Hao Sihuan, deputy general manager of Jiangsu Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company, which is responsible for the investment, construction, operation and management of the demonstration zone.
"The property services, workplace safety, personnel and goods management in the zone have higher requirements. We need to improve our comprehensive service capabilities on all fronts and promote capacity cooperation between the two countries to bear more fruit," said Hao.
With the improving infrastructure, the demonstration zone has seen great progress in attracting investment. So far, nine Chinese enterprises have officially signed contracts to settle in the zone, with one company already starting production and another one due to launch operations soon. Six regional headquarters or trading companies have chosen to set up business there.
On Oct 3, Superview Metals Manufacturing Industry Ltd held a commencement ceremony and became the first project to start production in the zone.
"The UAE has a superior geographical position and is an important commercial distribution center. The society is stable, the foreign labor resources are abundant, and the energy prices and tax policies are quite competitive, which is very much in line with the company's development needs," said Tang Jianxiong, manager of the Chinese company's project in the zone.
"The company sent staff to inspect the demonstration zone in July 2021 and signed a contract in December of that year. The project that was put into operation can now produce 3 million non-refillable welded cylinders per year," Tang said.
The company sees improving operating conditions in the UAE and Tang is full of confidence in its development prospects there. "If everything goes well in the next two years, we plan to expand the investment and make it an important distribution hub for the company's global footprint."
Scientific and technological cooperation is an important element of China and the UAE's joint construction of the Belt and Road. The UAE attaches great importance to the introduction of high-tech industries such as aerospace. In recent years, more of China's high-tech aerospace enterprises have set their eyes on the UAE market and settled in the demonstration zone.
Chinese company Origin Space signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the zone in September 2022. It officially entered the zone in December and will set up a subsidiary, a research and development center and an exhibition center there. Currently, the R&D and exhibition center have entered the construction phase, which is expected to be completed in mid-January next year.
"Under the framework of high-level cooperation between the two countries, we are actively striving for the landing of commercial space-related projects," said Wu Xian, vice-president of Origin Space. "I hope the company's business will expand to new space fields, such as new space infrastructure, space tourism, training science popularization and the digital economy."
According to Hao, the construction and operation of the demonstration zone will not only help China's manufacturing industry and other advantageous industries tap the Arab market, but also help the UAE develop new energy, high-end equipment, aerospace and other industries, as well as accelerate its industrial diversification and high-quality development.