Air Arabia (AIRARABI:DFM) will become the first low-cost airline from the Middle East and Africa to connect the region with China next month. Starting on February 10, 2015, the Sharjah-headquartered carrier will fly regular non-stop services to Urumqi, the largest city in Western China.
Located in the Xinjiang district of China, Urumqi is a modern industrial city of 3.3 million people and a major transportation hub in the region. It has been described as the gateway to the vast region of Xinjiang, which offers some of the best bazaars, hiking, outdoor sports and natural beauty in the country, as well as being the location of large oil and natural gas reserves.
Beginning its operations in Sharjah in October 2003, Air Arabia now serves over 100 destinations in the Middle East, North Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia and Europe. The airline recently announced plans to open a new international hub at Amman Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan, opening up the possibility of adding more European routes. The new Jordanian hub will bring the airline’s number of international hubs to five.
According to Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD), bilateral trade between Sharjah and China could grow by 11 percent during 2014 to reach US$5 billion (AED 18b). Trade between Sharjah and China has grown sharply over the past few years, and is already five times the level of trade in 2010. Overall, the United Arab Emirates registered US$46 billion (AED 169b) of bilateral trade with China in 2013 and diplomatic sources, expect a sharp increase in bilateral kitrade with China in 2014/2015.
The UAE has become increasingly popular with Chinese tourists and, in 2014, a group of more than 16,000 Chinese businessmen, tourism delegates, journalists, government officials and individual tourists visited Sharjah in cooperation with one of the United Arab Emirates’ leading in-bound tour operators.
Source: Air Arabia, media