The South Korean President, Yoon Suk Yeol, left for the United Arab Emirates on Saturday as part of a two-nation tour aimed at promoting South Korean exports, particularly those related to the energy and defense industries.
Yoon is scheduled to arrive in Abu Dhabi on a state visit, the first such visit by a South Korean leader since the two nations established diplomatic ties in 1980. During his time in Abu Dhabi, Yoon will meet with President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates.
A symbolic measure reaffirming his commitment to scrapping the nuclear phaseout policy of his predecessor Moon Jae-in, he will visit the Akh unit, which is a South Korean military contingent, as well as the Barakah nuclear power plant, which was built by South Korea, during the course of his four-day stay in the region.
National security adviser Kim Sung-han had this to say to reporters earlier: “Choosing the UAE for the first foreign trip of the year and the first visit to a country in the Middle East reflects President Yoon’s firm commitment to focusing our diplomacy on vitalizing the economy and increasing exports.”
It has been stated that the two parties are in the final stages of finalizing around 30 memorandums of understanding including the governments and the commercial sector. Energy, armaments, and investment are among the primary areas of cooperation between the two parties.
According to a top presidential official, an announcement on an agreement to transfer South Korean armaments to the UAE is scheduled to take place soon.
The official stated that “the situation is exceptionally ripe for security or military collaboration between South Korea and the UAE including the weapons sector. The atmosphere is extremely ripe for security or military cooperation between South Korea and the UAE,”
Yoon will also be accompanied by a business delegation comprised of officials from approximately one hundred South Korean companies. The purpose of this delegation is to support the expansion of South Korean companies into the UAE and discuss potential avenues of collaboration with the sovereign wealth funds of the UAE.
Yoon will fly from the United Arab Emirates to Zurich, Switzerland, on Tuesday. While there, she will meet with people who are from South Korea and then go on to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum on Wednesday and Thursday.
The President will meet with the CEOs of key global corporations at Davos to explore ways in which the private sector and the government can work together to solve the complicated global crisis and secure sustainable growth.
Among the leaders of South Korean companies, the CEOs will include Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, and Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung. Also included will be the CEOs of Intel, IBM, Qualcomm, JP Morgan, and Sony.
The President will deliver a special presentation to the forum on Thursday, the topic of which will be the ways in which the world community can work together to overcome the current economic crisis.
He will present ideas for international cooperation and solidarity for the strengthening of supply chains, the transition to clean energy, and the construction of a digital order, while also stating South Korea’s role and commitment to achieving those goals. He will also present ideas for international cooperation and solidarity for the construction of a digital order.
On the same day, Yoon will travel to Zurich, where he will visit the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology to meet with researchers and discuss future collaborations in the fields of science and technology.
UAE and South Korea Relations
The recent trend in UAE-South Korea bilateral commerce, according to the UAE’s senior diplomat in Seoul, demonstrates the strength and resilience of the two nations’ economic ties.
UAE Ambassador to South Korea Abdulla Saif AlNuaimi stated at the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, held on Jeju Island in South Korea, that non-oil bilateral trade between the UAE and South Korea increased by 19 percent to US$1.3 billion in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same period last year.
In his address to the Arab Ambassadors’ Forum, he stated that the United Arab Emirates is the only country in the Middle East with a Special Strategic Partnership with South Korea, which has aided in the expansion of bilateral relations in all areas, particularly in the economic and commercial spheres.
AlNuaimi noted that bilateral collaboration between the UAE and South Korea is expanding in various sectors, including renewable energy, infrastructure, health and medicine, future-oriented technology, and innovation.
He stated that the Barakah nuclear power station and many oil fields are the largest projects conducted by South Korean firms in the UAE.
The diplomat disclosed that South Korean Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the UAE reached $2 billion in 2019.
As of 2020, the UAE had invested $637 million in South Korea, mostly in important industries such as oil and gas, real estate, automotive equipment, manufacturing, coal, and entertainment.
In addition to being the regional economic hub of the Middle East and a gateway to the world’s main economies, the UAE’s well-planned strategic initiatives have made it an appealing investment destination, according to the ambassador.
He emphasized that the signing of more than 100 agreements to prevent double taxation and 67 bilateral investment treaties with the world’s leading nations represented a significant stride.
AlNuaimi disclosed that a massive influx of FDIs has been attracted by the country’s more than 40 free zones that provide several benefits to investors.
Moreover, investors are drawn to the UAE by tax exemptions, stable currency rates, 100 percent firm ownership without the requirement for a national agent, and long-term visas, including 10-year renewable golden visas.