By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik, Business Editor Sung Jung-wook
The National Day of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was celebrated in the grandest scale in Seoul on Dec. 2, 2019 at Hotel Shilla, among the few largest in Korea for this year. An estimated total of over one thousand distinguished guests attended the function, including Korean government leaders, ambassadors of many countries accredited to Korea and leading figures from all walks of life in the Korean and international communities.
Ambassador Abdulla Saif Alnuaimi of the UAE spoke on a wide range of topics regarding the good progress made in all fields between Korea and his country.
“With regard to the bilateral relations with the friendly Republic of Korea,” he said, “the ties witnessed a significant progress over the past decade.” Then he said, “They had been elevated to 'Strategic Partnership' in 2009 and again upgraded to 'Special Strategic Partnership' in 2018 and, as a result, the existing fields of cooperation have substantially expanded.”
Ambassador Alnuaimi then went on to say, “This has been reinforced with high-level visits made between the leaders of the two countries and a recent visit was made by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to Republic of Korea last February.”
“The visit,” Ambassador Alnuaimi noted, “also opened prospects for increased bilateral cooperation in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” (See excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Alnuaimi at the end of this report.)
As was noted earlier, the reception was attended by all but unprecedented number of VIP guests.
Among them were Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neunghoo, National Assemblyman Kim Jung Hoon, Vice Minister of National Defense Park Jae-min and National Assemblyman Jeong Kab-yoon(concurrengly chairman of the Chairman of Korea-UAE Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group).
Among the Korean guests from the media came many publishers and editors as well as reporters, who included Publisher-Chairman of The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean media outlets for the past 34 years since 1985.
The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs also had very nice words about relations between the two countries.
According to the MOFA, the UAE is a rapidly growing and prosperous country widely known for her harmonious society inheriting the greatest cultural asset of each of the seven Emirates. The UAE is also a nation who has successfully positioned itself as a hub of the Middle East and a gateway to the region.
The UAE, a home to people with diverse ethnic backgrounds, has also been a successful promoter of religious diversity. This is evident more than ever from the fact that the UAE celebrates 2019 as the Year of Tolerance.
The year of 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Korea and the UAE and, as Korea’s only “Special Strategic Partner” in the Middle East and Africa, the country hosts the largest Korean community in the region alongside some 180 Korean companies. The successful progress of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant Project has also been a driving force of strong partnership between the two countries.
Cultural and People to People ties are also growing stronger. Abu Dhabi hosts the only Korean Culture Center (KCC) in the Gulf region, and more than 20 direct flights connect Korean cities carrying people travelling for medical treatment, tourism, education and business purposes.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Alnuaimi:
His Excellency honorable Park Neunghoo, Minister of Health and Welfare, as representative of the Government of the Republic of Korea, His Excellency H.E. Kim Jung Hoon, Member of the National Assembly - Chairman of Korea-UAE Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group, His Excellency Jeong Kabyoon, Member of the National Assembly, His Excellency Park Jae-min, Vice Minister of National Defense, Their Excellencies fellow ambassadors and members of diplomatic corps, Media personalities, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,
Today we celebrate the 48th anniversary of the announcement of our Union and the establishment of our country; today marks the anniversary of the unification of the seven Emirates in 1971. On this day, our country embarked on a bold and optimistic journey of progress and development in order to achieve its vision across different fields by 2021, a vision which aims to make the UAE among the most competitive countries in the world by the Golden Jubilee of the Union.
Today the UAE, with its wise leadership, continues this journey with energy and determination, and looks to its children to continue the achievements of the nation and its citizens.
The progress, development and prosperity that we enjoy nowadays in the UAE goes hand in hand with a balanced foreign policy based on moderation, tolerance, humanitarian assistance and political openness that allows our country to gain greater respect in its diplomatic presence and further boosts its friendly relations around the world.
On December 2nd of each year, we reflect on our nation's achievements, and what we need to accomplish in the coming year. Ours is comprehensive development agenda, which aim to look after the present as well as to plan for the future, and to compete with confidence on the world stage relying on proper planning, technological know- how, and our extensive human capital – the most important resource of the country.
Our leadership declared 2019 as the Year of Tolerance, to reinforce the fact that we are a country where more than 200 different nationalities live in an atmosphere of openness, mutual respect and coexistence based on the principle of tolerance.
There can be no better illustration of this tolerance than the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the UAE; the first visit by a pontiff to the Arabian Peninsula, and his signing with the Sheikh of Al-Azhar the document of “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.” This document enshrines the country’s determination to instill a spirit of tolerance in society, establishing a culture of openness and dialogue, and rejecting all kinds of discrimination based on religion, gender, race, color or language.
Our Year of Tolerance also encapsulates the vision of the UAE’s Founding Father Sheikh Zayed, who believed that a successful, tolerant and progressive society can only be achieved by empowering women and ensuring their full participation in the construction of this country. A third of the UAE’s Cabinet is women; women represent a majority of the workforce of our civil service and our university graduates; and the representation of women in the Federal National Council is now at 50 percent.
2019 also saw the launch of the “Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence”, the first graduate level, research-based artificial intelligence university in the world. This university aims to empower students, businesses, and governments to advance artificial intelligence and use its extraordinary potential as a global force for positive progress.Another highlight of this year was the remarkable progress made by UAE diplomacy in terms of the strength of the UAE passport, which now ranks the most powerful in the world, according to the global Passport Index. Hence, more visa exemptions were granted with 177 countries where UAE nationals are allowed to enter without a visa.
Moreover, the UAE has spared no effort in empowering young people, as evidenced by the Emirati leadership’s support for Hazzaa al-Mansoori, the first Arab astronaut to visit the International Space Agency, who has become an inspiration and a role model to many young Emiratis.
It is well-known that the UAE has always been at the forefront in carrying messages of peace and cooperation to the world, and this no doubt assisted us in winning the right to host Expo 2020 Dubai, the largest event to be staged in the Middle East. Expo 2020 Dubai will showcase human achievements in many fields, with the participation of more than 200 countries, companies, organizations and educational institutions. This global event confirms our nation's ability to connect and inspire millions of people around the world to celebrate human progress, solve global challenges, and create a better future.The UAE has an international reputation for both security and stability, and this has enabled us to become a magnet for many creators and talented individuals, who seek an environment that supports their skills and talents, and appreciates and rewards their intellectual prowess.
On this occasion, we remain grateful to our leadership, which spares no effort to raise the nation and achieve the well-being and happiness of its citizens and residents.
With regard to the bilateral relations with the friendly Republic of Korea, the ties witnessed significant progress over the past decade. They had been elevated to “Strategic Partnership” in 2009 and again upgraded to “Special Strategic Partnership” in 2018. As a result, the existing fields of cooperation have expanded. This has been reinforced with the high-level visits made between the leaders of the two countries. The recent visit was made by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to Republic of Korea last February. The visit also opened prospects for bilateral cooperation in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Thank you all for your presence and participation in our celebration, and we hope to see you and welcome you again in future occasions. Kamsa-hap-nida