The language barrier is among the difficult areas for the Chinese community in the UAE. The Arab China Television channel, the first and only Chinese TV channel in the Middle East, is trying to build a social, cultural and economic bridge between the two cultures. China Arab TV (CATV) broadcasted from Dubai Studio City is a Chinese language channel (with Arabic and English subtitles).
The channel aims to provide up-to-date news and entertainment to a growing Chinese population in the UAE and Chinese state companies and private businesses that use Dubai as a regional hub for doing business with the region.
Liu Haijiang, Chairman on Board, CATV, told Emirates 24|7 that CATV channel is the first Chinese television channel available in the Middle East as an attempt to open a new window of mutual understanding between Chinese people and Arabs.
“Our effort is to build CATV as the informative bridge between China and Arab nations and to improve bilateral economic and trade cooperation,” Liu said, adding that there are nearly half a million Chinese nationals resident in the UAE and other GCC countries and nearly a million tourists who visit the UAE every year. CATV was founded by the Chinese entrepreneurs Liu Haijiang in partnership with a major UAE investor.
UAE-China bilateral trade is estimated to grow up to $150 billion by 2020. The UAE, especially Dubai, is a regional base for Chinese state companies and private Chinese businesses and traders. Svina Wong, Vice-President, CATV, said the channel reaches over to one million Chinese viewers spread across the UAE, Middle East and South East Asia.
Over half-a-million Chinese visit the UAE and the region for tourism and business annually. As per a latest DTCM report, 450,000 Chinese tourists visited the UAE in 2015 The ‘People’s Daily’, the leading Chinese newspaper, has a Middle East edition from Dubai.
The Chinese community in the UAE constitute largely traders and business people, and the channel is a source of news and information to the growing Chinese community in the region. The channel, which was launched in September 2015 has around 50 employees including some broadcast journalists who specialise in the UAE and Chinese news.
“Language barrier is a big problem for the Chinese community. We try to give English and Arabic subtitles for our Chinese programmes. Some of the interviews are in English and we put Chinese subtitles for the Chinese viewers,” she said. “Our aim in the near future is to have English, Chinese or Arabic subtitles for all our programmes. While half of the programmes are with Chinese voiceover (with Arabic subtitles), half of the programme is Arabic (with Chinese subtitles),” she added.
The channel caters mainly to the news and information requirements of the Chinese community.
Svina said: “Dragon Mart is the biggest overseas Chinese trading market in the world. There are many Chinese businessmen and traders doing business there. Chinese business plays important role in various markets in the UAE – trade relation between the UAE and China has been growing.”
She said Chinese partners are keen to play an important role in the UAE business scenario, and CATV gives a platform for the community here and for UAE companies and investors who want to tap the huge Chinese market.
Similarly, UAE investors are equally keen to tap the huge Chinese market. The news broadcast in Chinese language covers almost everything pertaining to life and business in the UAE – covering areas like road traffic, new rules, regulations and major announcements.
The Chinese population in the UAE is poised to grow further. “The UAE Government has been encouraging Chinese investors and tourists to come to the UAE. Policy-wise also, it is easy for the Chinese to travel to the UAE.
“As of now our TV channel is focused on news and infotainment. So far, we don’t have music, movies or other entertainment programmes. We have a series of Chinese dramas and Chinese cartoons with voice-over in Arabic.”