The Hala China initiative, jointly launched by Meraas and Dubai Holding earlier this year, has announced the signing of its first strategic agreements at a press conference at Bvlgari Resort Dubai.
The event was organised by Meraas, with support from the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Dubai, and also saw the establishment of a new Hala China Board of Directors.
Dubai-based Emirates Airline was appointed official carrier for Hala China, with plans to develop attractive packages and privileges for Chinese speakers across its seven routes from China. Payment services company Union Pay will be the preferred payment partner for the initiative, with Bank of China also looking to establish long-term economic relationships through its own range of financial services.
Other organisations to join the initiative include Dubai Parks & Resorts, Bank of China, China Everbright Group, Union Pay, China CYTS Tours Holding Co, Hikvision, JollyChic, Mafengwo, Utour Group, DYO Consultants, Zhongteng Tianchuang Information Technology and Sino-Union Reserve Investment. The remit of these partners spans banking, finance, travel, tourism, marketing, technology, e-commerce, education, entertainment, and the environment, and will result in direct investment while creating a seamless visitor experience.
Abdulla Al Habbai, group chairman at Meraas, said: “We launched Hala China with the intention of aligning the objectives of key stakeholders and strategic partners from across Dubai and China, with the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Signing the initiative’s first strategic agreements is the first step towards achieving shared prosperity, and is both symbolic and significant in providing Hala China with a foundation upon which to build."
"The establishment of a board of directors is also crucial in ensuring the longevity of the initiative. We are confident that the strategic partnerships signed today are the first of many, and that they have the potential to strengthen relationships between businesses, investors, entrepreneurs and travellers in the UAE and China for generations to come,” he said.
Overseeing current and future strategic partnerships will be a board that is chaired by Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, divisional senior vice president, Commercial Operations, Centre at Emirates Airline. Mohamed Almulla, chief executive officer at DXB Entertainments, will serve as the deputy chairman and Board Member. The board will be responsible for leading and directing all activities organised by Hala China, including an annual calendar of events targeting Chinese visitors.
Board Members include Huda Buhumaid, chief marketing officer at Dubai Holding; Mohammad Saeed Al-Shehhi, chief executive officer at D3; Sally Yacoub, chief Malls officer at Meraas; Adel Ebrahim, general affairs – group chairman’s office at Meraas, and Liang Xiao Qian, chief China affairs officer at Meraas.
The selection of members of the Board of Directors will bring together a broad range of expertise from the tourism industry and the wider economy, as well as the experience to be able to plan, oversee and manage exciting events capable of leveraging opportunities in travel, trade and investment sectors.
In his capacity as chairman of the Board of Directors at Hala China, Sheikh Majid Al Mualla revealed that the board has taken steps to set up a dedicated Mandarin Chinese hotline and concierge service that can be accessed by all Chinese speakers visiting Dubai. The new service will provide tourist information about the city to Chinese visitors to help them make the most of their stay while they are in the city.
Al Mualla said: “Language is often one of the biggest obstacles business and leisure travellers face when searching for experiences that enable them to immerse themselves in a new place and start building connections and memories. In creating a dedicated service for Chinese speakers, we aim to make it easier for visitors to experience more of what Dubai has to offer and, in doing so, reconfirm our commitment to supporting Dubai’s vision as a leading destination for international visitors while introducing innovative touchpoints with key source markets.”
Hala China is focused on creating an annual schedule of experiences and tourism packages catering to Chinese visitors, across seven categories – stay, shop, eat, play, explore, wellness and concierge. As part of the yearlong pipeline of activities, the city will host a series of events and programmes including food festivals, fashion shows, sporting events, music festivals, Chinese cultural pageants and more.
Li Lingbing, consul general of the People's Republic of China in Dubai, said: “Since China and UAE began jointly promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, the two countries have actively strived to achieve mutually beneficial prosperity and development, with bilateral relations opening up a new era of cooperation. Meraas and Dubai Holding, with the support and coordination from Chinese embassy in UAE and the Chinese Consulate-General in Dubai, have initiated Hala China to enhance cooperation in the fields of trade, finance, investment, culture and tourism at a time that will help in promoting further cooperation and mutual understanding between Chinese and UAE citizens. I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude for this move, and believe the friendship and mutual beneficial cooperation between China and the UAE, under the joint efforts of both sides, will be ushered into a new future.”
Events already planned for Hala China include the stunning Chinese musical, ‘Wind from the Sea’, organised with support from The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United Arab Emirates, The Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Dubai, and Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture on July 15. This event will be followed by a week-long Chinese film festival with red-carpet events for Chinese film stars in October, a Chinese cultural exhibition in November, and a cooking competition in January that will see 15 leading Chinese chefs create culinary delicacies.
Following the success of the first Chinese New Year celebrations in Dubai in 2018, organised by Meraas in partnership with the Consulate General at City Walk, a three-week Chinese New Year event has been scheduled across Meraas destinations in February 2019. This year’s event welcomed 22,000 visitors, and featured food competitions, performances and fashion shows, which are set to return next year.