United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
The following article was contributed by Abdulla Al Romaithi, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, to mark its 40th National Day, which falls on Dec. 2. ― Ed.
With the theme “Spirit of the Union,” the United Arab Emirates celebrates its 40th National Day on Dec. 2, noting the great achievements it has made since the establishment of the federation in 1971 thanks to the policies of our late leader and founding president Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan al Nahyan and his fellow members of the Supreme Council. More achievements have been made under the leadership of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE, together with Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai, and General Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the armed forces.
The political system agreed to by our union’s founding fathers gave the country its stability as well as its status at the regional and international levels. Progress has been made over the past years in meeting international democratic standards with the expansion of the powers of the Federal National Council. As an important step in promoting political participation, the second parliamentary election was held last September to elect new members of the FNC. In this election, the electoral college was expanded and equal chances had been given to female and younger candidates to run and vote in the general election for the legislative body, which is considered a pillar of governance.
The last four decades witnessed comprehensive economic development in all sectors thanks to the country’s wise policies, strategies and initiatives. The UAE rationally uses its wealth in building its economy. It has later shifted to utilize this for diversifying its national income.
The good performance of the economy has fueled social prosperity. World-class facilities and services in housing, health and education are made accessible to citizens and foreign residents in the UAE. This resulted in the country’s achievements in international indicators measuring human and social progress as well as female empowerment.
The UAE has pursued a policy of openness to all nations, tolerance and peaceful co-existence with various civilizations, cultures and religions. This explains why the country is a preferred destination for international and regional gatherings, tourism and job seeking.
In foreign policy, the UAE has maintained moderate and balanced relations with other countries. It has broadened its diplomacy, which is based on the principle of non-intervention in other nations’ internal affairs.
The relations between the UAE and South Korea have gained momentum during the past few years. They have achieved significant progress in all spheres of cooperation. Thanks to the wise decision made by the leaders of the two countries in late 2009, bilateral ties were elevated to a strategic partnership against the backdrop of what had already been accomplished.
Relations have been reinforced through various efforts. Visits exchanged between the leaders, ministers and high-ranking officials of both countries played a significant role in cementing bilateral relations. During the visits, the two sides had the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest, as well as to coordinate their positions on the regional and international stages. They signed agreements in various cooperative spheres, including politics, the economy, culture, education and health.
Over the past few years, the volume of trade and joint investment has increased significantly. Meetings of the joint committee in the two countries’ capitals helped pave the way for increased cooperation and stronger economic partnerships in areas considered strategic for the collaboration between both sides. These include innovation, investments, small and medium-sized businesses, civil aviation, health care, technology and education. Investment forums played another complementary role in enhancing economic and trade ties. In addition, delegations comprised of officials and experts in economics and trade were active in helping business cooperation.
Korean conglomerates, as well as small and medium-sized firms, have a strong presence in the UAE, with branch offices established there benefiting from the opportunities available in the construction and sales of products in the UAE and the region, helped by the free economic zones and transit trade there. Companies from the UAE also found their way to the Korean business market in search of joint investments with their Korean counterparts.
Cultural exchanges have taken place with the embassy participating in many cultural events in Korea to introduce UAE culture to Koreans. The National Folk Band of the UAE visited Korea twice to introduce Koreans to some aspects of the UAE’s culture and heritage.
In the past few months, the two sides held important cultural events. Sheikh Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, member of the UAE Supreme Council and ruler of Sharjah, visited Korea accompanied by a large cultural delegation in late September. During the visit, a cultural exhibition (the “Sharjah Cultural Days”) opened in one of Korea’s prestigious museums of modern art in Gyeonggi Province. Parts of the Royal collection of Sharjah, and other artistic works from the UAE were showcased. In October, the Korea-Arab Society reciprocated the event by launching its Fourth Friendship Caravan in the UAE with the aim of introducing local residents to Korean culture.
Such events promote mutual understanding, respect and friendship between the people in the two states. People-to-people exchanges increase one day after another thanks to the daily non-stop air flights connecting major cities in the two nations, coupled with the diverse tourism attractions of both countries. In the UAE, there is a growing interest in Korean culture especially among youngsters. This is shown through the popularity of Korean dramas as well as the preference for learning Korean among college students.
At the educational level, the UAE has dispatched students and trainees to advanced Korean universities and specialized training centers. Groups of outstanding university students are sent to Korea in the summer. They tour educational centers and industrial facilities in order to learn about the technological renaissance in Korea and to get an idea about the research interests of their Korean counterparts. Educational institutions in the two countries have made agreements to increase cooperation and exchanges in the future.
There are good prospects for collaboration between the UAE and Korea in the years to come. The two nations can further reinforce their ties through more high-level visits and consultations. They can enhance their joint investments in many areas including information technology, heavy industries, oil and gas, mega-tankers and motor vehicles. Cooperation in the coming years can focus on future growth engines such as semiconductors, media, investment and financial services, among others. These will reinforce the atmosphere for expanding and deepening the strategic partnership between the two nations.
By Abdulla Al Romaithi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates