China flags. Picture: REUTERS
China flags. Picture: REUTERS

Abu Dhabi — China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a raft of economic agreements on Friday as President Xi Jinping held "extensive talks" in Abu Dhabi that will strengthen political ties, the UAE said.

Xi met UAE vice-president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is also ruler of Dubai, and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan on the second day of a three-day visit.

"We have substantial political and economic agreement and a solid base of projects in energy and technology sectors and infrastructure," Dubai’s ruler said in a tweet. "More than that, [we have] a strong political will to start a larger phase of co-operation," he added.

China and the UAE had already agreed oil and trade deals in the run-up to Xi’s visit. The two delegations signed more "memorandums of understanding and agreements" on Friday, Crown Prince Mohammed said on Twitter.

This takes the total number of memorandums of understanding and deals struck this month to 13, official UAE news agency WAM said.

A strategic co-operation framework between state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) was among the deals signed on Friday, Adnoc said. The agreement "outlines opportunities for possible future collaboration across Adnoc’s upstream and downstream value chains and support for China’s growing energy needs"..

Adnoc announced on Thursday that it had awarded two contracts worth $1.6 to BGP, a subsidiary of CNPC, for a seismic survey in the emirate. The survey will search for oil and gas in onshore and offshore sites covering an area of 53,000km².

Also on Thursday, the UAE’s state-owned DP World announced an agreement between the two countries to build a new trade zone in Dubai. 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.

In a further sign of strengthening ties, on Wednesday, Dubai-based real estate developer Emaar Properties 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 SA.