Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s first nuclear power plant at Barakah, being built by a Korean company, has spawned “bilateral cooperation on all fronts”, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is on his first visit to the UAE, has said.
President Moon Jae-in arrived in Abu Dhabi on Saturday on a three-day state visit.
Suhail Mohammad Faraj Faris Al Mazroui, Minister of Energy and Industry, and a number of senior officials received the South Korean president and the accompanying delegation at the Presidential Flight facility.
Ahead of the visit, President Moon — in written responses to the Emirates News Agency (WAM) — had singled out the Barakah plant as having established “a strategic partnership” between the two countries.
Following the signing of the contract in 2009, he said, Korea and the UAE “went on to expand and diversify bilateral cooperation not only in conventional areas of collaboration, such as energy and plant construction, but also on all fronts, including national defence, health care and medical services, culture, government administration and even space exploration”.
‘Miracle in the Desert’
Speaking about his first trip to a Middle East country, and his expectations of his visit to the UAE, President Moon said: “More than anything else, it is truly meaningful for me to visit the land that achieved the ‘Miracle in the Desert’ through unceasing endeavours for reform and innovation as well as socioeconomic progress.”
He added: “The magnificent skylines of Abu Dhabi and Dubai that I have seen in pictures are very impressive.
“I pay my respect to the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan; President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan; His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and to other leaders and people of the UAE for accomplishing such remarkable development in the middle of the desert.”
Besides the Barakah project, other sectors for cooperation include health care, science and technology, and ICT, President Moon said.
He pointed out that Korea had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on health care and medical services with the UAE in 2011, the first with a Middle Eastern country. “And our two countries are now actively working together for the treatment of UAE patients at state hospitals in Korea and for Korea’s consignment operation of hospitals in the UAE …”
He added that the two countries are working together “in areas of the treatment of patients at government expense and consignment operation of hospitals”.
As a result of the ongoing cooperation, “the number of patients visiting Shaikh Khalifa Speciality Hospital, which has been managed by Seoul National University Hospital since 2014, is rising every year”, President Moon highlighted as an example.
Regarding cooperation in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, President Moon said, “Bilateral cooperation so far for the establishment of the UAE patent administration information system, for which the inauguration ceremony was held on February 28 this year, merits attention as an example of successful cooperation. Korea will continue to work together with the UAE to help it emerge as a hub of intellectual property rights in the Middle East.”
In the interview, President Moon said that during his visit, “a Korea-UAE Joint R&D Centre will be launched at Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research, through which industry professionals and academics from our two countries will meet for research and discussions”. He also spoke about “brisk” cooperation in satellite development.
“Korea exported DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2 to the UAE, and KhalifaSat, the first satellite developed by the UAE’s own technologies, has been in Korea for the final inspection since February this year before its launch. As such, cooperation between our two countries is expanding into the area of high value-added technology in preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I hope these kinds of cooperation will continue in the years to come.”
President Moon also drew attention to cultural ties.
“I heard that many people in the UAE have recently been showing great interest in Korean culture. Their soaring interest in Korea’s pop culture, such as K-pop and K-drama, as well as in Korea’s history, traditions and cuisine will serve as a significant stepping stone for the advancement of friendly ties between our two nations,” he said.
President Moon added that this year, the Korean Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi will organise all of its cultural programmes in celebration of the Year of Zayed.
Korea plans to hold this year’s Korea Festival in October to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Shaikh Zayed, the Founding Father of the UAE.