Abu Dhabi Investment Forum was launched today in Seoul, South Korea. The Forum is organised by Abu Dhabi Investment Office of the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Abu Dhabi in collaboration with the UAE Embassy in South Korea as part of the ADIO’s annual programme aimed at attracting FDI to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Abdulla Saif Al Nuaimi, the UAE Ambassador to South Korea, addressed over 150 Korean businessmen and investors, saying that this Forum represents a chance to learn about the type of investments that Abu Dhabi and the UAE can offer.
He pointed out that the UAE and South Korea have been enjoying unique bilateral relations since 1980, and during that time, both countries made many achievements in the field of economic development despite the geographical distance. This encouraged the governments of both countries in 2009 to shift from traditional relations to comprehensive strategic partnership that manifested itself in the announcement of the nuclear power project, currently under construction in the UAE by a Korean consortium, a step that is regarded a milestone in the history of the UAE-Korean relations.
Al Nuaimi pointed out also that political and economic relations between the UAE and South Korea have been rapidly progressing since the visit of Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea, to the UAE. During that visit, several new agreements were signed in several domains, including renewable energy, intellectual property, science and technology, education, industry, healthcare and desalination.
The bilateral trade volume between the UAE and South Korea reached $14.93 billion in 2017 in which UAE exports to Korea topped $ 9.55 billion, as oil is considered the largest commodity that the UAE exports to Korea. On the other hand, UAE’s imports from Korea reached AED5.38 billion and consisted of household appliances, cars, electricity and electronic equipment.
Regarding mutual investments between the UAE and South Korea, Al Nuaimi mentioned that it reached a total of $1.85 billion, and the total Korean investments reached $1.4 billion, whereas the UAE investments topped $0.45 billion. He also stated that there are over 200 Korean companies operating today in the United Arab Emirates, with more than 11,000 Korean nationals currently living in the UAE; the largest Korean community in the region.
Al Nuaimi called upon the investors, businessmen and owners of Korean companies participating in Abu Dhabi Investment Forum in Seoul to take advantage of the investment opportunities that the UAE government offers in the field of media, tourism, energy, industry, transportation, logistics, financial services, insurance, health, education, technology, communications, real estate, construction and food, in order to obtain mutual benefit and reinforce the volume of investment between the two countries.
Al Nuaimi concluded his speech by expressing hope that the Forum’s sessions and the bilateral meetings held between the governmental bodies and private sector companies of both sides would fulfill their goals in reinforcing communication between the various parties in order to address promising investment opportunities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
On his part, Ahmed Bin Ghannam, CEO of Abu Dhabi Investment Office, said in his speech that the participation of a large number of government officials and representatives of the private sector in South Korea in this Forum shows how interested South Korea is in the development that the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE are witnessing these days, which would provide promising investment opportunities in the various economic fields.
He also pointed out that the strategic relations between the UAE and South Korea have become more solid and are established on the collaboration between the two countries in various fields, including energy and clean energy, which is manifested in the establishment of the first nuclear power plant in the UAE, currently being built by a Korean consortium.
Bin Ghannam added that the relations between South Korean and Abu Dhabi also featured the reinforcement of mutual cooperation in the oil sector which was manifested in the signing of two contracts valued at $3.5 billion by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and the Korean industrial giant Samsung Engineering. The contracts aim to process crude oil and recover energy and water.
He explained that the UAE is South Korea’s second largest trade partner in the Middle East, and stated that the UAE exports to South Korea reached $9.55 billion in 2017, whereas the UAE imports from South Korea topped $ 5.38 billion. Moreover, the number of South Korean companies that are registered in the UAE exceeded 200, excluding the companies operating in the free zones.
In his speech, Bin Ghannam said that the Emirate of Abu Dhabi have witnessed major developments in the business environment over the last few years. During that period, the Emirate provided some features and incentives to foreign companies, particularly the South Korean ones. These features included constant evaluation of their legislations and legal and governmental laws, as well as the facilitation of the economic licenses procedures, which enhances the investors’ trust and expands the existing investment opportunities.
Furthermore, he said that South Korea is a unique example of knowledge and innovation-based development, which is a key element in establishing a partnership with the Emirate of Abu Dhabi since the latter seeks to achieve this by adopting and transferring knowledge. Knowledge is a major part of Abu Dhabi’s development strategy, and the Emirate pays great attention to the issues pertaining to innovation, technology, industries, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Bin Ghannam, expressed hope that the Forum will significantly contribute to the attraction of South Korean businessmen and investors in order to help them take advantage of the investment opportunities that have been offered during the Forum’s sessions and the meetings of the private sector companies held on the sidelines of the Forum.
During the Forum, Fahd Al Ahbabi, Director of the Direct Foreign Investment Department at Abu Dhabi Investment Office, delivered a presentation in which he explained the important role that Abu Dhabi Investment Office plays and its strategic goals that focus on supporting foreign investments between the Emirate and the countries with which it holds strong economic relations.
He also pointed out that South Korea is among the countries that Abu Dhabi is most interested in reinforcing its economic and investment relations with, and that it is the center of focus for Abu Dhabi Investment Office and its annual program for attracting direct foreign investments to Abu Dhabi.
The Forum consisted of several events including a panel discussion that addressed the sustainable economic development incentives. Participants in this session included His Excellency Eng. Jamal Al Dhaheri, CEO of Senaat General Holding Corporation, Sultan Mohammed Al Amiri, Vice Chairman of Business Development in Abu Dhabi International Airport Free Zone, Adel Al Saeedi, Privatisation Director at the Department of Energy, and Khalid Al Rashedi, Director of Governmental Affairs at Mubadala Investment Company.
On the other hand, the second session of the Forum was dedicated to the discussion of the sustainable economic development incentives in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in which Rashed Al Baloushi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, and Steve Barnett, Director of Development at Abu Dhabi Global Market, participated.
During the Forum, Al Baloushi stated that there have been 70 Korean investors registered in Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange by the end of the first quarter of 2018, including 35 individual investors and 35 investment institutions. Moreover, he said that the total value of Korean investors’ trading (both selling and buying) reached around AED 50 million in 2017, whereas the market value of the shares they owned reached AED160 million by the end of 2017.
Regarding the value of the Korean investors’ trading (both selling and buying), Al Baloushi said that this value reached AED 25 million during the first quarter of 2018, representing 5% of the total tradings by investors from other Asian countries for the same period.
Al Baloushi called upon the Korean investors to take advantage of the investment opportunities that are available in Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, which is considered among the best in the world in terms of return on investment. He also explained that the rate of cash dividends for the companies listed in the Exchange reached 5.3% by the end of 2017, making it among the highest rates in the world. Al Baloushi further emphasised that attracting more investments is a major factor in increasing trading in securities exchanges.
In addition to that, Al Baloushi pointed out that the Exchange has signed a mutual cooperation agreement with Korea’s stock market as part of the former’s strategy to reinforce relations with the various international financial bodies and institutions in order to achieve sustainable development for the government of Abu Dhabi. According to the two agreements, an official framework for the two exchanges will be established in order for them to work on several joint projects aimed at reinforcing and developing the infrastructure of Abu Dhabi’s Exchange, as well as any other projects that the two parties may agree upon.
On his part, Abdulla Al Qubaisi, Deputy Director General of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said that the Chamber has discussed the cooperation reinforcement, experience exchange, and the promotion of investment opportunities in both countries with South Korean companies last February, especially Korea International Trade Association (KITA), Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), and representatives of the National IT Industry Promotion Agency.
He also emphasised that there are more investment cooperation opportunities that could be utilised by the Abu Dhabi’s private sector institutions and their counterparts in South Korea, and pointed out the possibility of attracting South Korean companies to Abu Dhabi. He also said it is possible to establish strategic partnerships with the private sector institutions in the Emirate, work in the various economic sectors in Abu Dhabi and achieve substantial rewards that are beneficial to both countries.
Aref Hamad Al Awwani, Secretary General of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, emphasized the importance of participating in Abu Dhabi Investment Forum in Seoul since it aims to support cooperation and partnership opportunities with the Korean institutions in various fields, including sports.
Al Awwani explained that holding this Forum in South Korea reflects the strong relations and key partnerships between the UAE and South Korea, and pointed out that Abu Dhabi Sports Council is keen to discuss the sports investment fields, reinforce cooperation with the various sports institutions in Korea, and introduce the Korean side to the developments achieved in the sports field in Abu Dhabi which has become one of the top cities that hosts major world sports events in support of our vision: (Abu Dhabi: World Capital of Sports .Practice Competition Hosting). He also described the Council’s message which focuses on creating a sports environment that helps raise awareness regarding the importance of sport, providing programs and events to practice sports in society, and apply the best international systems that qualify for professional sport competition on the local and global level.
Mubadala Investment Company participated in Abu Dhabi Investment Forum in South Korea. The Company’s representatives said that Mubadala invests $15 billion in the “Soft Bank Vision” Fund, an investment platform that focuses on investment in technology and innovation companies, in addition to a group of major investors. Moreover, Mubadala contributes by 21% to Cosmo Oil Company, one of the leading energy companies in Japan.
In addition to that, it is worth mentioning that Mubadala holds a partnership with Wooridul Spine Center, one of the leading healthcare facilities in South Korea based on its investment approach that focuses on building strategic partnerships with global companies, and its keenness to review its investment portfolio regularly to achieve its main objective of securing sustainable investment returns on international investments and expand to new sectors, such as technology.
Mubadala’s participation in Japan and South Korea, along with the governmental and semi-governmental bodies and private sector companies in Abu Dhabi, comes in line with its goals to employ its investments and fully apply its standards of integrity and innovation in order to contribute to the long-term reinforcement of economic growth in Abu Dhabi since both Japan and South Korea are regarded as strategic markets for both Abu Dhabi and the UAE.
Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs