Our relationship with the Republic of Korea is constantly evolving. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 40 years ago, we have witnessed continued growth.
Despite the geographical distance between the two countries, we have pursued a peaceful coexistence and tolerance.
In what may seem like an unlikely match, the UAE and South Korea share common interests that have brought us closer together in a collaboration that transcends boundaries and focuses on communication and exchange.
This relationship is founded on deep admiration and respect of each other’s culture.
Emiratis have always been welcoming of South Korean pop culture, drama, music, food and Taekwondo, for that matter, which continues to influence several aspects of everyday life in the UAE.
At the same time, South Koreans in the UAE have made a remarkable effort to promote the values of tolerance and intersecting traditions in South Korea.
The leadership has launched a series of dialogues and initiatives across a variety of fields focused on ongoing development and long-term planning to promote peace and understanding.
When our late Founding Father Sheikh Zayed and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Han-Dong met in Abu Dhabi in 2001, both countries signed a historic agreement, which led to the development of joint co-operation across five governmental and social fields.
Over the years, the relations between both countries continued to prosper. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces visited the Republic of Korea in May 2010, March 2012 and April 2014 and February 2019, making the UAE the only Middle Eastern country to have established such a relationship with South Korea.
During the past four decades, culture has played a pivotal role in enhancing trust and friendship between the two nations by creating avenues that help people better understand each other’s lifestyle and traditions.
The UAE’s national cultural vision is shared closely with that of the Republic of Korea, as both nations strive to spread and preserve their values, celebrate global cultures and promote cultural exchange and knowledge development in their countries.
With these shared aspirations, we are now hosting the UAE-Korea Cultural Dialogue 2020, a testament to our joint commitment to elevate art and culture in our societies and strengthen cultural co-operation.
In 2016, Abu Dhabi hosted the first-ever annual UAE-Korea Festival showcasing Korean culture to UAE audiences through art, performances, food and more.
This is now a fixture on the local cultural calendar.
Following the success of this event, the Korean Cultural Centre opened its doors in Abu Dhabi in 2016, a one-of-a-kind cultural platform in the Middle East.
The centre hosts a variety of events from cultural and language classes to art and music exhibitions and performances for Emiratis and residents of the UAE.
We are confident that this ongoing cross-cultural exchange will lead to a stronger desire for other culturally driven initiatives.
In March 2018, the UAE and South Korea entered a special strategic partnership, following which South Korea was designated as the country of honour at the 2019 Abu Dhabi Festival.
This was a testament to the strong ties and of our countries’ mutual desire to strengthen cultural exchange.
This partnership seeks to ensure that fields of literature, performing arts, audiovisual media, design, and arts education are addressed and appreciated by every member of the society.
These initiatives will undoubtedly enable us to expand on developmental programs and thoroughly understand each other’s cultures.
It is through such dialogues that the UAE has been able to strengthen stronger foundations of trust, understanding, and diplomatic relations to encourage cross-border peace, coexistence and interculturality.
As we enter this new partnership, we look forward to introducing South Korea and the rest of the world to the beauty and distinctiveness of the Emirati culture.
Noura Al Kaabi is UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development