The United Arab Emirates (UAE) strongly supports China's Belt and Road Initiative, said UAE Minister of State Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber.[Special coverage]
"The UAE strongly supports this initiative, which will foster economic growth and security both regionally and globally," Al-Jaber told Xinhua in an interview ahead of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation scheduled for Sunday and Monday in Beijing.
Al-Jaber, who is also CEO of the biggest government-controlled UAE firm Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), believes that the forum serves as an important milestone in implementing the Belt and Road Initiative, which is China's historical effort to "transform the economies of the old Silk Road, strengthen links between them and better connect them to the rest of the world."
Al-Jaber praised the "substantial progress" made with regard to the initiative since China proposed this far-sighted project in 2013.
In the past four years, he said, China has directly invested over 50 billion U.S. dollars and created the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a new multilateral financial institution designed to fund "vital public works throughout Asia's emerging economies."
"The UAE is a founding member of the AIIB and committed to its central mission of bringing the Belt and Road vision to life," he added.
China and the UAE both believe "in the essential connection between trade, peace and prosperity," said Al-Jaber.
This shared belief is "best expressed by the strength of our bilateral trade, which has grown dramatically -- almost 800 folds in the three decades since we established formal relations," he said, namely from 63 million dollars in 1984 to over 50 billion dollars in 2016.
One of the most important elements in the UAE-China trade ties is energy, the essential enabler of economic growth along the Belt and Road corridor, he said.
Foreseeing a 50 percent growth by 2040 in the energy demand in countries along Belt and Road, China and the UAE have made strategic co-investments in the energy sector, said Al-Jaber.
China National Petroleum Corp. and China CEFC Energy Co., Ltd recently took a minority share in UAE's onshore oil reserves, "beginning a partnership with ADNOC that will secure oil supplies for decades and ease market access for essential and higher-value products throughout the region," said the ADNOC chief executive officer.
In addition, "ADNOC's petrochemical company, Borouge, is celebrating seven years of operation in China during which trading volume has quadrupled," he said, adding that Borouge is gearing up for market growth in both China and other Belt and Road countries.
On the UAE role in implementing the Belt and Road Initiative, Al-Jaber said: "At the pivot point between Asia, Europe and Africa, the UAE is ideally located as a logistical hub that can facilitate trade."
Last year, Abu Dhabi Ports company has forged a partnership with China' s shipping giant COSCO to build a new terminal at Khalifa Port that will double cargo capacity, further expanding the flow of commodities between countries along the Belt and Road and the world's other major trading blocs, he added.
Looking ahead, the UAE minister believes that by 2040, countries along the Belt and Road will account for almost two thirds of the global gross domestic product, becoming the world's most significant driver of economic growth.
"In short, the success of Belt and Road can provide the foundation for a more secure, prosperous and progressive future for the world throughout the rest of this century and beyond," he said.