New UAE and South Korean cultural exchange launched

The initiative marks 40 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries

A new cultural exchange programme aimed at strengthening ties between the Emirates and South Korea began on Monday.

The UAE-Korea Cultural Dialogue 2020 will involve a series of events held in both countries focusing on literature, food and music.

The initiative is intended to mark 40 years since diplomatic relations between the two countries began.

Government figures show about 180,000 South Korean tourists visited the Emirates in 2018, with many keen to enjoy the country’s desert landscapes.

“I believe cultural exchange is the foundation of relations between the UAE and Korea,” said Park Yang-woo, South Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism.

“We look forward to increasing mutual understanding. It will lead to more Koreans visiting the UAE for tourism.

We look forward to increasing mutual understanding. It will lead to more Koreans visiting the UAE for tourism.

“This in turn will contribute positively to the diplomacy between both countries.”

Mr Park launched the programme alongside Noura Al Kaabi, the UAE’s Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development.

When asked what South Koreans found most intriguing about the Emirates, he referred to a photo of himself posing on a sand dune in Dubai.

“The UAE, with its sea and deserts, is a great natural environment,” he said. “There’s also the modern architecture in Dubai.

“Ten years ago, the UAE wasn’t very well-known among South Koreans, but recently Abu Dhabi and Dubai have become more popular.”

The exchange scheme aims to build on the co-operation established by South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visit to the UAE in March 2018.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, also visited South Korea in February last year.

The 2020 programme will see the UAE join a number of cultural events in South Korea over the coming months.

A delegation will attend the 26th edition of the Seoul International Book Fair as well as the ninth Arab Film Festival in the capital.

Mr Park also said a variety of traditional Emirati concerts would be staged, allowing South Koreans to better understand Arabic music.

On Monday, the minister was given a tour of Zayed University in Abu Dhabi where he joined an Ayala dance performance.

“He was just happy to be among the dancers,” said Ms Al Kaabi. “They taught him how to perform with the stick.

“He was asking questions about the stick and was explaining to me the use of drums in traditional Korean music.

“You see the younger generation [in the UAE] and other countries in the [Middle East] region loving this culture. It is not just the food, it is the cosmetics and the fashion.

“But [Koreans] do not know that much about Emirati culture. They do not know about Emirati food or why we wear what we wear.

“So our job is to take these activities to Korea, providing an element of education.”