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Miracle of Han River & Miracle of Desert
Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Founds UAE
Special Contribution
By UAE Embassy in Seoul
Portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of UAE

Though geography has set physical distance between the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Korea, the two countries have much in common. Both are young and modernised nations and stand as great models for the whole world. Located in the Gulf region, the United Arab Emirates, is at the heart of the desert, in the Middle East. Under the leadership, grand vision and wisdom of the founding father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE became one of the pioneering nations in the world.

Let’s first talk about the UAE, the miracle of the desert or as some call it the Eden of the desert. The journey began on Dec. 2, 1971. It was the vision and leadership provided by President Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, and the first prime minister, vice-president Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Dubai — that made it possible. They transformed a handful of remote fishing villages and trading outposts in the desert into a prosperous, peaceful country. Emiratis have been playing a decisive role in the development and progress of their nation.

It is this political harmony and tolerance that they attracted world-class professionals from around the world, making the UAE a truly multicultural melting pot and, arguably, one of the best places on earth to work in. The same balanced approach was adopted in the UAE's foreign relations with the rest of the world. While passionately championing Arab and Muslim causes, the country strives to maintain friendly relations with nations in the region and beyond.

As this miracle in the desert celebrates its 46th year, the audacity of its vision remains breathtaking. There seems no limit to its ambition and plans. The future seems to have even more exciting and interesting things in store for it.

With its exuberant optimism, the UAE serves as a bright example to others in the region and further afield. It demonstrates that dreams, even the impossible, can come true as long as you really believe in them and work to make them a reality.

UAE Ambassador to S. Korea Abdulla Saif Alnuaimi

On the other hand, or the other side of the world, South Korea is a testament to how economic policies can transform a country. By the end of the 20th century, South Korea was already a global powerhouse able to host major international events. The country is now among the largest economies in the world and adhered to the G20 in 2010.

South Korea is quite justly considered to be a miracle on the Han River. This country of over 50 years has practically risen from the ashes after the war of 1950-53. The Korean people worked hard to rebuild their nation. Whereas many other countries used the loans to survive, Koreans used them for development, nurturing the distinguishing feature of great nationalism, which in turn served as a main driver in the reconstruction process.

An important component of the country’s success was also the political will of the South Korean leadership, which in the 1960s could formulate a clear program of reforms and involve the majority of the society in its realisation. So, at that time certain harsh administrative measures were taken, but it produced a needed result on the whole. Koreans understood that they would not cope with the renewal of the country and integration in the world economic system on their own.

Therefore they actively involved international aid from certain countries and international financial structures that supported South Korea. These factors produced a result. But I would put the peculiarities and the distinguishing features of the Korean people first, and their renowned ability to work in a very organised way. The most important thing is that they had a concrete goal and they have achieved it.

Beyond the amazing journey and the magnificent achievements of both countries, it is easy to notice a plethora of similarities between the UAE and South Korea, for the Korean culture and history features aspects similar and common to Arab culture and society.

The Koreans are reserved and have strong family bonds. The hospitality aspect is also quite identical to the Arab hospitality. The Korean people see the UAE as a country that offers security as well as a connection to other major countries. The number of Koreans visiting the UAE is increasing monthly which means the relationship is growing exponentially and faster.

A connection between two countries like the UAE and Korea can only lead to good things, as they their peoples interact, as they exchange knowledge and build bridges of cooperation. The two miracles became great partners with a special strategic partnership that binds them.

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