The UAE and Qatar lead the Middle East in use of the yuan in direct payments with China and Hong Kong, according to the financial messaging firm Swift. Last year, the UAE’s use of renminbi or yuan comprised 74 per cent of all payments by value to China and Hong Kong, up by 52 per cent from 2014. In Qatar, it accounted for 60 per cent, up more than twofold in the same period. The yuan’s use has been boosted by a number of agreements signed last year. In 2015, Qatar became the first country in the Middle East to host a yuan clearing and settlement facility, after a deal between the Qatar Central Bank and the People’s Bank of China.