UAE president visits South Korea with defence and energy on agenda

The President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, arrived in South Korea on Tuesday for his first state visit to the country. Upon landing, his plane was greeted by a special escort of four fighter jets. During his visit, the President is scheduled to hold a summit with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to discuss defense industry cooperation, business and investment, and energy initiatives. South Korea has emerged as one of the world’s largest arms exporters. The two leaders will also focus on strengthening their “special strategic partnership.” As Sheikh Mohammed’s plane entered the South Korean defense identification zone, it was accompanied by four F-15K Air Force fighter jets and landed at a military airfield just south of Seoul.
Following Yoon’s state visit to Abu Dhabi last year, during which the UAE pledged $30 billion in investment in South Korean businesses, Sheikh Mohammed is now reciprocating. He recently met with leaders of top South Korean conglomerates, including Samsung Electronics, SK Group, and Hyundai Motor Group.

South Korea and the UAE have had strong business ties for over a decade, with South Korea previously winning contracts to build nuclear reactors in the Gulf state.

Furthermore, South Korea has signed significant defense contracts as part of its goal to become the world’s fourth-largest defense exporter by 2027. Recent agreements include a deal with Poland, which aims to strengthen its defenses due to its proximity to Ukraine, currently engaged in a conflict with Russia.
In recent months, South Korea has been actively seeking to enhance its defence cooperation with Saudi Arabia, aiming to boost arms sales in the region. According to the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, South Korea’s weapons exports to the Middle East have increased nearly tenfold from 2013 to 2022. This growth has been attributed to the recent agreement between South Korea and Saudi Arabia. The positive impact of this agreement was evident in the stock market, as Hanwha Aerospace, LIG Nex1, and Korea Aerospace Industries experienced significant increases in their stock prices, rising by more than 5% and 7.1% respectively, following the UAE state visit.