South Korea set to expand role in capital’s 2030 plan


By Chris Stanton

South Korean companies are looking to play a central role in the industrialisation of Abu Dhabi, a senior Korean official says.

The theme for Korea’s ties with Abu Dhabi, announced at a forum on UAE-Korean commercial ties in the capital, comes a year after Korean companies’ best year in the Middle East, especially the UAE.

Key parts of Abu Dhabi’s energy architecture, including oil platforms, refineries and the first new nuclear power stations, will be built by Korean firms.

South Korea’s experience in rapidly expanding an economy without natural resources forced it to develop its human capital and left it well positioned to develop the Emirati workforce, said Park Young June, the vice minister of the government’s economic development unit.

“In the promotion of small to medium-sized businesses, renewable energy policies, health care and information communication technology … the sectors embodied in Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030, Korean companies have world-class competitiveness,” he said after the forum.

“Developing human resources is the most substantial part and Korea is strong at this, as it had the experience of developing the national economy without abundant natural resources.”

Korean companies were “ready to build the industrial base to serve Abu Dhabi”, Mr Park said.

Korean industrial contractors, which have dominated the oil and gas contracting sector in Abu Dhabi in the past two years, are increasingly bidding for a broader class of industrial projects.

Samsung Engineering, which has won contracts to build a plastics plant, fertiliser production line and part of a refinery in Abu Dhabi in the past year, was looking to “rebalance the portfolio” towards new industrial projects, said Gunther Pergher, the company’s general manager for marketing and planning in the MENA region.

Other Korean contractors are adopting the strategy, he said.

“We are actively pursuing metals and metallurgy projects in the UAE, and as part of the 2030 vision there’s also potential infrastructure industrial projects such as power plants and water desalination,” Mr Pergher said.

Samsung Engineering was “active in the industrialisation of the country, whether it was power plants, steel mills, new technology for computers … and the idea is to take that expertise we developed and export it to foreign markets”.

Mohammed Abdullah, the Under Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, lauded yesterday’s signing of a joint-venture agreement.

Hadeed Emirates Contracting, an Abu Dhabi company, will tie up with Sunglim, a Korean company, to supply pre-built steel structures across the region.