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Students of UAE Youth Ambassadors Program, future leaders visit South Korea

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the first wave of Korean migrant workers moved to Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE; the money they brought back home helped make South Korea what it is today. South Korea has achieved a remarkable record of growth and global integration to become a high-tech industrialized economy, becoming a member of the G20.About 20 university students from the United Arab Emirates visited South Korea from June 28 through July 21 as part of the UAE Youth Ambassadors Program to benchmark South Korea.

The Youth Ambassadors comprise of students from six UAE universities who are selected by the court of Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince. The program is expected to help the participating students equip, develop, and prepare themselves to take on prominent future roles in core sectors, lead key partnerships, and strengthen engagement between the UAE and South Korea, as part of the growing strategic partnership between the two countries. The fact that the program chose South Korea as its first partner country demonstrates the close friendship between the two countries and the UAE’s strong desire for future-oriented cooperation with South Korea.

Students from the UAE Youth Ambassador Program visited a Doosan Heavy Industries factory in Changwon on July 16, 2012 (photo courtesy of Doosan Heavy Industries).

The program, which lasted for four weeks, included various activities to teach about South Korea, including intensive Korean language training and visits to government entities, industrial sites, and cultural and historical sites. The youth ambassadors were invited to lectures on the history of South Korea’s economic advancement and the know-how of human resources development. They visited executive branches including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to learn about the administrative system of South Korea. Also they experienced management innovations and were fascinated by the processes of new product development in Samsung Electronics, SK Energy, and Hyundai Heavy Industries; they visited The National Palace Museum of Korea, World Taekwondo Headquarters, and Boseong Green Tea Plantation.

The UAE is South Korea’s largest export market in the Middle East. Trade between the two countries reached USD 22 billion in 2011, according to figures from the Korea Trade Information Service (KOTIS). UAE exports to Korea rose 21.2 percent to USD 14.75 billion in 2011 as oil prices increased, while Korean exports to the UAE grew 32.4 percent to USD 7.26 billion. UAE exports are dominated by oil, and the country is the fourth-largest exporter of crude oil to Korea. South Korean firms are now important participants in many key projects in the UAE, from nuclear power to infrastructure. UAE firms are increasing their role in Korea, entering partnerships that aim to ensure Korea’s energy security and running one of the country’s largest ports.

Students from the UAE Youth Ambassador Program visited the Promotion Pavilion at Doosan Heavy Industries in Changwon on July 16, 2012 (photo courtesy of Doosan Heavy Industries).

Since 2009, when the two countries became strategic partners, the cooperative relations of the two countries have expanded in all directions. In recent years, nuclear energy has assumed a pivotal role in the relations between the two nations. The UAE is interested in exploring potential cooperation with South Korea in sustainability solutions, small and medium-sized enterprises, civil aviation, automotive, technology, engineering, hospitality, innovation, health, education, construction, and sports.

The South Korean Embassy in the UAE spares no effort in broadening the areas of cooperation between the two countries. It organizes cultural events such as exhibitions of Korean modern art, performances of traditional and contemporary music, and film festivals to provide people with insights into Korean culture and heritage. The embassy also fosters ties among universities through exchanges of students and faculty to help the younger generations of the two countries develop long-term cooperative relations. The Made-In-Korea (MIK) 2012 Expo was held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company (Adnec) in Abu Dhabi on May 21-23 with up to 500 small and medium enterprises from Korea attending.

By An Myungok Staff Writer

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