DUBAI: Emirates Airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China's Ningxia autonomous region signed a memorandum here on Thursday on joint marketing and tourism promotion.
The document was signed ahead of the planned inauguration on May 3 of direct flights between Dubai and Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
Li Lingbing, China's Consul General in Dubai, Badr Abbas, Emirates' Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations for the Far East, and Xue Gang, deputy secretary general of the People's Government of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, attended the signing ceremony.
Representatives from local Emirati and Chinese tour operators were also present at the event.
Abbas said Emirates will work with Ningxia "to enhance efforts to support the tourism industry and increase our trade ties with Ningxia, which will ultimately grow inbound leisure and business traffic."
In 2015, 450,000 Chinese tourists visited Dubai, a major factor contributing to the city's 29 percent jump in overall tourist arrivals, according to figures issued in January by Dubai authorities.
Ningxia has 6.7 million inhabitants, including 2.3 million ethnic Hui people who follow Islam.
Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia, lies to the west of the Yellow River. With a large Muslim population, it serves as a gateway connecting China to the Middle East, and is positioned as a hub for economic and trade cooperation and cultural exchange between China and the region.
Xue invited Dubai residents and tourists from around the world to explore Ningxia and its culture of the Hui ethnic group, its vast deserts and mosques, the famous Xixia Museum and Xixia Imperial Mausoleum known as the oriental pyramid.
The Ningxia official also encouraged visitors to experience the region's rich cuisine and discover its traditional Chinese medicine.
Businesses in Dubai have already reached out to companies in Ningxia, notably in the sectors of Islamic (halal) food and fashion.