[photopress:hotels_Hangzhou.jpg,full,alignright]True, you would not normally associate the Arabian nights with Hangzhou. Still Muslim Chinese were a strong influence in trade in Huangzhou and several relics linking China to the Arab world exist. These are featured at the Arabian Travel Market 2008. This tourism promotion of Hangzhou made it the first ever Chinese city to aggressively promote tourism within the UAE and in the Middle East.
In fact, Arabian link or no, Hangzhou is a remarkably attractive city. Marco Polo visited Hangzhou in the late 13th century and referred to the city as ‘beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world.’
He called the city Kinsay which simply means ‘capital’ in Chinese (actually Polo used a Persianized version of the word). Although he exaggerated — Marco Polo was not always a teller of the absolute truth — and said the city was over one hundred miles in diameter and had 12,000 stone bridges, still he thought the city remarkable.
He wrote: ‘The number and wealth of the merchants, and the amount of goods that passed through their hands, was so enormous that no man could form a just estimate thereof.’
Which gave Li Hong, Director of Hangzhou Tourism Commission, a running start when, at the Arabian Travel Market, he urged Arab tourists to come to Hangzhou and see for themselves the Phoenix Mosque, one of four ancient Islamic mosques in China built during the Tang Dynasty between 618 and 907 A.D.
Plus the tomb of Bhatia, the Arabian scholar and doctor, who came to the capital of ancient China, Lin-an (now known as Hangzhou) in Southern Song Dynasty, fell in love with the city and settled there spreading Islam in the area dating back to as far as 800 years ago. And as an added benefit more than 700 Lanzhou hand-extended noodle shops selling halal traditional Muslim food and qualified Hangzhou cuisine.
The tourism official said that their participation in the Arabian Travel Market 2008 demonstrated their commitment to a long friendly relation with the UAE, especially Dubai.