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From right: Shaikh Salem Al Qassimi, Assistant Undersecretary for Heritage and Arts at Ministry of Culture, with others Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: UAE and the Republic of Korea launched a year-long series of events to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations at the Abu Dhabi National Theatre in the capital on Monday.

Under the theme ‘Converging Cultures’, the UAE-Korea Cultural Dialogue 2020 includes the roll out of events, workshops and public talks that celebrate and recognise Korean and Emirati culture in both countries starting this month.

Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development and Park Yang-woo, Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Kwon Yongwoo, Korean ambassador to the UAE, among others, attended the inauguration.

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A Korean and Emirati band play music

Speaking at the ceremony, Al Kaabi said, “The long-standing relationship between the two countries was initiated by the UAE’s founding father Shaikh Zayed in 1980. This dialogue is not only commemorative of 40 years of our relations that focus on continued growth regardless of geographical distance, but also of a future that will further bilateral ties of cooperation between our friendly nations and our global understanding of each other’s culture and traditions.

“We place special importance on the cultural and creative industries sector, nurturing young talent and encouraging a future generation of cultural creators, artists and leaders,” she said.

Special partnership

The UAE and Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in December 2019, building on the Special Strategic Partnership, established by bilateral visits between both nations; the most recent of which was by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who visited Seoul last February.

The dialogue is to converge the efforts of the cultural sectors of both nations through cultural exchange, events, initiatives and ideas across the fields of heritage, literature, visual and performing arts, design, artificial intelligence and education.

The bilateral trade between both countries stands at $15 billion where Korean exports to the UAE include automobiles, construction materials and electronics, including mobile phones and televisions, while UAE exports petrochemical products, such as oil.

Positive vibes

Speaking to Gulf News after the launch, Kwon Yongwoo, Korean ambassador to the UAE, said, “Closeness in terms of cultures of both countries could be the backbone to further enhance relations in all areas. Cultural ties send positive vibes to the other side and cement trust. Cultural exchanges based on friendship and trust help to develop such relations.

“We have sound relations with the UAE and our bilateral trade stands at $15 billion,” the ambassador added.

Kwon added that about 200,000 Koreans visit the UAE every year and 20,000 Emiratis travel to Korea, while the population of Korean expats in the UAE stands at around 13,000.

Park Yang-woo, Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said, “Culture progresses when it is mixed with other cultures. I am confident that the UAE and Korean cultures will witness a substantial development in intercultural dialogue through diverse cultural events planned throughout the year under this significant initiative.

“Strengthening cultural exchange lays an important foundation for expanding bilateral cooperation further in the political, diplomatic and economic fields,” the Korean minister added.