Moon pushes hydrogen economy, K-culture in UAE
President Moon Jae-in in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the first leg of his Middle East tour, pushed to expand cooperation for a hydrogen economy, promote Korean culture through a visit to the Dubai Expo and strengthen the special strategic partnership with the oil-rich Persian Gulf nation.
After arriving in Dubai Saturday, Moon attended Sunday a business roundtable on hydrogen partnership with economic leaders and energy official in the UAE and called for cooperation in eco-friendly technologies between the two countries.
"The UAE's strengths are in the production of green and blue hydrogen while Korea's are in utilization, storage and distribution — including hydrogen-powered vehicles, charging stations, fuel cells and liquid transportation," said Moon. "If our two countries cooperate, we will take the lead in the hydrogen economy."
He said that Korea is strengthening its hydrogen economy ecosystem, "including production, utilization and distribution" by enacting the world's first Hydrogen Act, expanding the use of hydrogen in mobility and the power generation industry and building infrastructure to supply hydrogen.
Noting the two countries' special strategic partnership, Moon stressed that Korea and the UAE already are cooperating on energy, such as at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in Abu Dhabi, the defense industry, health care and agriculture.
He added, "The hydrogen industry is a field for future cooperation through which our two countries can make a greater leap forward."
Moon later held talks with UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and discussed the economy and trade, defense, infrastructure, climate change and culture. The two sides also discussed cooperation in the fields of hydrogen, space, desert agriculture and seawater desalination.
The UAE notably signed a deal to purchase Korea's mid-range surface-to-air missiles in an indication of bolstering defense cooperation.
As Korea aims to bid to host the world expo in 2030, Moon attended an event marking the Korea National Day at the Expo 2020, alongside Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president and ruler of Dubai.
Moon stressed Korea's growth as an industrial country and highlighted its pursuit of science and technology, as seen at the Korean Pavilion showcasing cutting-edge information and communication technologies.
"ICT is a growth engine that helped Korea join the ranks of the world's 10 largest economic powerhouses," said Moon at the Expo. "Even while striving for economic growth, the Korean people have always kept inclusion and mutual benefit in their hearts."
He said that the Dubai Expo gives inspiration to Korea in its bid to host the 2030 World Expo in the southeastern port city of Busan, which will hold the theme of "Transforming our world, navigating toward a better future."
In the process of aiming for the Busan Expo, Korea plans to promote the "spirit of solidarity, cooperation, inclusion and mutual benefit," pushing for a narrative of "humanity moving toward a sustainable future," said Moon.
He added, "I hope that we will meet again in Busan, the maritime capital of Korea, and join the bold voyage of 'transforming our world.'"
Moon attended a hybrid K-pop concert at the Expo with first lady Kim Jung-sook, featuring Korean artists including Psy, Stray Kids and Sunmi, and attracting some 6,000 people.
The president also stressed cooperation in promoting carbon neutrality and clean energy at the opening ceremony of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Monday.
Moon had been scheduled to hold talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the de facto ruler of the UAE, Monday, on the sidelines of the sustainability summit, but the talks were called off last minute upon the request of the UAE.
The talks were canceled due to a "polite request" due to an "unforeseen and urgent matter of state" on the side of the crown prince, a senior Blue House official told reporters Sunday without elaborating.
Moon's eight-day Middle East tour will also take him to Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]