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Stone laid for monument of legendary Chinese explorer

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MUSCAT: A foundation stone was laid for the construction of a memorial dedicated to famous Chinese mariner and explorer Zheng He at a seafront site in Salalah in Dhofar Governorate on Tuesday.

The foundation laying ceremony was organised by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Sultanate of Oman, in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry and Dhofar Municipality.

In attendance at the event were senior officials from Oman and Embassy of the People's Republic of China, including Dr Ahmed bin Mohsin al Ghassani, Chairman of Dhofar Municipality; Li Lingping, Chinese Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman; Ambassador Abdullah bin Khalid al Sulaimani, Acting Director-General of the East Asia Department in the Omani Foreign Ministry; and Dr Khalid al Saidi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Omani-Chinese Friendship Society.

Speaking at the ground-breaking event, Abdullah al Sulaimani of the Omani Foreign Ministry said: "With the advent of the 52nd glorious National Day of Oman, today we are celebrating the laying of foundation stone for a memorial dedicated to the famous Chinese mariner and explorer Zheng He, who visited the Sultanate of Oman in the 15th century AD. It is considered as the beginning of communication between Oman and China."

Citing the increasingly robust trade ties between Oman and China, the official urged Chinese investors to increase the flow of investments into Oman in various fields, especially in renewable energy.

Chinese Ambassador Lingping noted that Zheng He was a frequent visitor to Dhofar, bringing pottery, silk, tea and other merchandise from China, while returning with frankincense and other local goods.

“Zheng He's voyages to the Western Ocean contributed to the promotion of friendly exchanges between ancient China and the countries on the coast of the Indian Ocean, economic, trade and cultural exchanges between China and these countries,” Lingping stated.

Oman and China has established diplomatic ties on May 25, 1978, opening a new page in the contemporary Sino-Omani relationship, she said. A new milestone in the relationship was celebrated on the 10th National Day of Oman with the historic sailing of ‘Sohar’, a wooden sailboat, from Suhar to Guangzhou.

“This trip is a rare achievement in the history of contemporary exchanges between China and Oman, even between China and Arab countries. It is the beginning of the renewal of the historical friendship between China and Oman, as the friendship between China and Oman has entered a new stage,” the ambassador stated.

Building on these ties, the two countries agreed to install a memorial to Zheng He in Salalah to commemorate his multiple visits. The project, designed by the China Transportation Corporation, will be constructed based on 3D printing technology. Work on the monument will be completed in 2023.

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