Posted : 2012-12-02 18:56
Updated : 2012-12-02 18:56

ROK, UAE strengthen strategic partnership

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest building in the world.
/ Courtesy of the UAE Embassy
Abdulla Al Romaithi, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, contributed the following article to The Korea Times on the occasion of the country's 41st National Day on Sunday. — ED.

Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
President of UAE

On. Dec. 2, it was a special day in the United Arab Emirates. On this day 41 years ago, the country was founded with the unification of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain and Fujairah.

The National Day of the UAE means commemorating the unity of the seven emirates. It also means celebrating another year of success and achievement, thanks to the visions and guiding principles laid down by the country's founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Abdulla Al Romaithi
Ambassador of UAE

The march of growth has continued under the wise leadership of President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Vice President, Prime Minister and ruler of DubaiSheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, their fellow members of the Supreme Council of Rulers and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, General Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

One of the principles emphasized by late President Zayed was that the country's real wealth is its people. This has been translated in the people's participation in political life through the Federal National Council (parliament) either as members or voters who bestow their trust on representatives. This has been applied to both men and women in line with the policies designed to empower women.

The country witnessed expansion in the transport sector with the growth in the number of passengers seen by the three major airports in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, as well as the turnover of the three national carriers, Emirates, Etihad and Air Arabia, together with the formal opening of new Khalifa Port at Taweelah. The GDP is expected to grow by 3.5 to 4 percent in 2012 despite the difficulties faced by the global economy.

At a social level, official expenditure has focused on the development of infrastructure, social, health and educational centers and services as part of the efforts made toward improving facilities for citizens and expatriates.

The country is committed to its foreign policy of moderation, openness to other nations and cultures.

The policy has resulted in reinforcing existing as well as establishing new strategic partnerships in politics, economy, trade, culture, education, and health with a number of countries.

Relations with Korea

With regard to its bilateral relations with the Republic of Korea, the UAE has continued its efforts to reinforce its strategic partnership established in late 2009. Over the course of the year, visits between high-ranking officials and delegations representing different sectors have been exchanged.

During the visits, the two sides discuss issues of mutual interests including bilateral cooperation. They also coordinate their positions in regional and international arena as well as reaching important agreements in several areas.

The visit made to the UAE by President Lee Myung-bak only 10 days ago was the latest in a series of such visits. During the visit, progress of the joint projects already in place was assessed including nuclear plants, oil and gas, among others. Agreements on new projects were also reached in energy, stockpiles, health care and other areas.

Bilateral trade totaled $22 billion last year despite the slowdown witnessed by global economy. The figure topped more than $18 billion in the period from January to October 2012.

Direct investments made by each country in the other nation also made steady progress. The nuclear power plants project executed by the Korean consortium in the UAE has proceeded smoothly during the past year.

A significant agreement was concluded between the two nations in the oil and gas industry. A Korean consortium was awarded concession last March to develop important oil fields in the Abu Dhabi emirate, thanks to the UAE's established policy in allowing foreign firms to enter this highly-rewarding market.

Collaboration has continued in other areas such as construction projects and renewable energy, to mention a few.

Korean companies, large, medium and small have established branch offices in major cities free zones in the UAE searching for projects, showcasing their products and services or re-exporting commodities to other countries in the region and beyond. The UAE has also shown keen interest in Korea's human resource by dispatching trainees to some training institution to learn more about Korea's expertise in many fields.

Exchanges in other areas have continued steadily. The new area of collaboration has been the medical and health sector. Health authorities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai have signed agreements with some Korean major hospitals and medical centers. They have started sending patients to receive treatment here. The new agreement signed during the latest visit of President Lee to the UAE will help further expand collaboration in this industry. The agreement calls for the UAE to send members of its armed forces and their families to Korea to receive medical treatment.

At educational and cultural levels, the UAE continues its interest in higher education in Korea, sending students to study in Korean universities as well as groups of university students to visit Korea during their summer holiday to learn more about Korean education and technological advancement. The embassy actively participates in cultural events organized in Korea for a better cultural understanding between the people of the two friendly nations. There is promising room for bilateral collaboration in the future in all the above-mentioned industries.

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