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UPDATE 1-China's Xpeng signs partnership with UAE's Ali&Sons, eyes Italian market

(Rewrites paragraph 1 with Italy expansion, adds details, background on hiring, R&D in paragraphs 4-6)

BEIJING, Feb 22 (Reuters) - China's Xpeng on Thursday said it has established a strategic partnership with UAE-based Ali&Sons and added Italy to its Europe plans, as the electric vehicle maker ramps up overseas expansion.

The announcement adds to Xpeng's partnerships with local dealers for the Egypt, Azerbaijan, Jordan and Lebanon markets.

Multiple Xpeng models will go on sale in the five Middle East and North African countries starting in the second quarter of this year, the company said in a statement on its WeChat account.

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Xpeng will begin offering the G6 and G9 SUV models in the UAE from the third quarter, while deliveries of the P7 sedan and G9 SUV will start in Jordan and Lebanon from the second quarter and in Egypt from the third quarter.

The firm also expanded its European market plans to include Italy. It had previously said it was planning to expand into Germany, Britain and France at the IAA Mobility motor show in Munich last September.

Other than a bigger global footprint, Xpeng also eyed more hiring and artificial intelligence R&D investments, as it seeks to survive what it describes as a "bloody sea" of competition in the world's largest auto market. (Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Varun H K)