Dubai Image Credit: File photo

COVID-19 is pushing every country in the world into an unprecedented horror. Its impact on each country seems to be linked to the lifecycle of the virus, its effect on human life patterns, and the resilience of many countries in the future. Nobody can accurately predict, but because there haven’t been any viruses that humans haven’t overcome in the past, I think that it’ll not take many years to get life back to normal like other virus cases in the past. In the long run, I’m very optimistic about the future of Dubai, as there is still a need for a country that will serve as a central hub linking between the East and the West or centred between several continents.

First, the infrastructure that connects Dubai’s geographical location with its maritime and air routes is one of the most important elements of Dubai’s competitive advantage and geoeconomic potential. Dubai has an excellent geographical location. It has a prime maritime location too, which is in the middle between the East and the West maritime routes and has Free Zones, such as Jebel Ali with which no country can compete. Emirates aircraft are now lined up like formal military soldiers on standby but are ready to fly to the world at any time. Dubai’s geographical location is a natural blessing, and its infrastructure that connects the sea and air routes is a great asset formed by the insights and judgement of the Dubai ruler.

Second, in Dubai, cosmopolitan elements, in other words, the diversity of race, language, culture and religion, the wisdom of coexistence, the culture of tolerance, the rule of law, universal standard for governance and common language, are already established.

Once the COVID-19 situation improves...opportunities will emerge for opening more businesses and ways of cooperation not only with Dubai but also with other neighbouring countries.

- Chun Young-wook, consul general for Dubai and Northern Emirates, Republic of Korea

— In Dubai, more than 200 foreign nationalities form a big part of the UAE’s 10 million population, and they have already learned the ways and practices of coexistence. Dubai is designed to embrace all races and cultures. The overwhelming number of residents from Southeast Asia and Southwest Asia is an element of a perfect base for New Southern Policy of the Korean government.

— Dubai has a culture of tolerance. The tolerance to accept each other’s culture and way of life. For example, Dubai issues religious category visas and maintains a very flexible practice towards food. Even during Ramadan, restaurants are permitted to operate with partitions.

— Just as there is Roman law in Rome, in Dubai there are laws that apply universally to all residents of various nationalities without discrimination.

— The de facto official language in Dubai, English is also a great asset here. All classes at universities are taught in English.

— Dubai’s MICE facilities such as exhibition halls, conference halls, hotels, restaurants, and cafes are not easily matched by countries in the region.

— Besides, the labour force from the Middle East, Central Asia, India, Pakistan, Southeast Asia, and other countries is an advantageous component of Dubai.

New era of cooperation

Therefore, Dubai’s economy will recover and leap as time goes by. Unlike other countries, until all international passenger flights were suspended in the UAE on the midnight of March 24, the UAE (Dubai) government showed goodwill to allow Koreans to enter and pass through UAE when the COVID-19 confirmed cases in Korea were rapidly increasing. Once the COVID-19 situation improves, it is expected to stimulate business relations and cooperation in the medical and ICT (video conference and distance education) sectors between Korea and the UAE. Opportunities will emerge for opening more businesses and ways of cooperation not only with Dubai but also with other neighbouring countries.

The globalisation of Korea is concentrated in the United States, Europe, China, and Southeast Asia, and New Southern Policy is being promoted to supplement it. Considering that the creation of Korea’s national wealth cannot be made independent of foreign relations and the excessive dependence on trade with a single or few countries must be resolved, our policy for external relations will then need well-balanced approaches and efforts.

We hope that our Consulate’s resources, infrastructure, information gathering and services will be strengthened and that the Korean Cultural Centre in Dubai will be established soon. It can be a catalyst for sharing the Korean Wave and enhancing of mutual understanding to make the best use of Dubai as the strategic base for Korea.

— Chun Young-wook is consul general of the Republic of Korea in Dubai and the Northern Emirates