June 25, 2024

United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ) arrived in South Korea on Tuesday for a two-day visit that will seek to boost economic and defense ties between the two nations. 

The visit marked by a high-level reception saw MBZ’s presidential flight escorted by military aircraft as it entered South Korean airspace “in a gesture of respect and welcome,” the official Emirati state news agency said.

The president is accompanied a large delegation of ministers and officials from Emirati business entities. He is scheduled to meet with his South Korean counterpart, Yoon Suk Yeoin.on Wednesday for talks on defense industry cooperation, business and investment as well as energy initiatives.

“Today I arrived in Seoul, where I will join Yoon Suk Yeol in discussing ways to advance the Special Strategic Partnership between the UAE and Republic of Korea,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote on X on Tuesday. “Through economic partnership and close people-to-people ties, our nations are determined to achieve further progress that benefits all.”

Prior to his meeting with the South Korean president, Sheikh Mohammed met upon his arrival in Seoul on Tuesday, with heads of South Korea’s top business groups, including Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor Group and SK Group, to discuss ways to boost cooperation in the fields of advanced technology, defense and energy.

“We continue to look for ways to collaborate in the field of ship building, including general merchant ships, construction machinery and green energy,” HD Hyundai vice chairman Chung Ki-sun told reporters before the meeting.

According to local Korean reports, around 200 businessmen and government officials from both countries, including South Korean Trade Minister Cheong In-kyo and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, attended a forum hosted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the UAE Embassy in Seoul.

The participants agreed on the need to boost cooperation in clean energy as well as information and communications technology.

“The cooperation between our countries has evolved from developing plants and oil fields into that of a special strategic partnership, exemplified by the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant,” Cheong said in a speech. “We will provide support so that the seeds of cooperation can grow.”

In 2009, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation awarded a South Korean consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation a $20 billion contract to build a nuclear power plant in the UAE, South Korea’s first overseas nuclear project. The Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in Abu Dhabi is the Emirates’ first nuclear power station.

Since establishing diplomatic ties in 1980, the UAE and South Korea have deepened their relations in various other sectors.

According to the Emirati government media office, the UAE is South Korea’s second-largest Arab trading partner and 14th globally, with the volume of Emirati non-oil foreign trade with the Asian country reaching 19.4 billion dirhams ($5.28 billion) in 2023. South Korea’s direct investments in the UAE amounted to 8 billion dirhams ($2.17 billion) in 2023.

During Yoon’s visit to Abu Dhabi in January 2023, the two countries inked 13 memorandas of understanding in the fields of energy, arms and climate change, among others. Sheikh Mohammed also pledged to invest $30 billion in the nuclear power, arms and energy sectors in South Korea.

The UAE’s direct investments in South Korea reached 2 billion dirhams ($544 million) in 2023, according to the same data provided by the Emirati government media office.

Sheikh Mohammed’s visit to Seoul is his first since he came to power in May 2022. The Emirati president will then head to China, where he is expected to take part in the 10th Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum.


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