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UAE airline to become first Mideast budget carrier in China

January 19, 2015

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A low-cost airline from the United Arab Emirates says it plans to begin flying to Urumqi, China, next month — becoming the first discount carrier from the Mideast to tap the Chinese market.

Air Arabia’s announcement Monday underscores the growing links between China and the oil-rich Gulf region. Urumqi is the capital of Xinjiang region, which is home to China’s Muslim Uighur minority.

The airline plans to launch non-stop return flights from its hub in Sharjah three times weekly to the western Chinese city beginning Feb. 10.

The Emirates, home to the region’s busiest airport in Dubai, has emerged as a major intercontinental aviation hub. Full-service UAE airlines Emirates and Etihad Airways already fly to major mainland Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, but low-cost carrier FlyDubai does not.

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