Saudi Arabia and South Korea: A fruitful and enduring partnership

Special Saudi Arabia and South Korea: A fruitful and enduring partnership
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul on Nov. 17, 2022. (South Korean Presidential Office/Yonhap via AP)
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Updated 18 November 2022

Saudi Arabia and South Korea: A fruitful and enduring partnership

Saudi Arabia and South Korea: A fruitful and enduring partnership
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accompanied by high-level delegation including ministers of energy, interior, national guard and foreign affairs
  • With 40 shared projects, South Korea is among the countries cooperating with the Kingdom to help achieve the aims of Vision 2030

RIYADH: The arrival of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Seoul on an official visit to South Korea has underscored the depth of the bilateral relationship 60 years after the two countries established diplomatic ties.

The crown prince and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol held talks on Thursday, during which they both pledged to strengthen relations in the fields of energy, defense industry and building projects.

Clearly, relations between the two G20 members have come a long way since 1962, when Saudi Arabia forged formal ties with the Republic of South Korea during the reign of King Saud bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and the presidency of Park Chung-hee.

South Korea opened its embassy in Saudi Arabia in 1973, while the Kingdom’s diplomatic mission in Seoul opened the following year.




South Korea’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, left, welcoming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Seoul. (Saudi Royal Palace)

The partnership assumed a strategic dimension in 2016 when the Saudi crown prince held talks with then-South Korean President Park Geun-hye, on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hangzhou, China.

The two leaders acknowledged the need to activate the work of the Saudi-Korean Joint Committee to enhance cooperation in various fields and encourage stronger trade relations. The committee was established more than 40 years ago to strengthen relations and common interests.

In 2017, the two countries launched the Saudi-Korean Vision 2030, forming a joint committee of representatives from relevant government agencies to review the partnership, approve projects, and implement plans.

Vision 2030 is Saudi Arabia’s social reform and economic diversification agenda, launched in 2016 to help wean the Kingdom’s economy off hydrocarbons and to promote youth and women’s participation in new sectors, from leisure and tourism to renewable energy.

South Korea is among eight countries cooperating with the Kingdom to help achieve the aims of Vision 2030, working on 40 shared projects and initiatives.

INNUMBERS

• 60 years since Saudi Arabia and South Korea established formal ties

• $26,506m volume of trade between the countries in 2021

• 132 South Korean investments in Saudi Arabia valued at $3.66 billion

These projects are divided into five sub-groups: energy and industrialization; infrastructure and smart infrastructure; digital transformation and capacity building; healthcare and life sciences; and small- and medium-sized enterprises.

The crown prince’s visit to South Korea in June 2019, at the invitation of then-President Moon Jae-in, marked another important turning point in relations, with an agreement to expand the scope of cooperation in all aspects of bilateral relations.

Those efforts appear to be paying off. The volume of trade between the Kingdom and South Korea in 2021 amounted to roughly $26,506 million.




S. Korea’s strengths in shipping and manufacturing underpin trade ties with Saudi Arabia, and plans to boost investment in energy, defense and green initiatives will forge wider economic links. (AFP)

The balance of trade that year recorded a surplus in favor of the Kingdom at a value of $19,646 million, with Saudi exports worth $23,076 million and imports from South Korea valued at $3,430 million.

Three of the most prominent Saudi companies have made investments in South Korea worth $6.35 billion. Chief among these is Saudi Aramco, which is active in the coal, oil and gas sectors, with investments worth $5.18 billion.

Others include SABIC, which is active in the chemicals sector, with investments worth $1 billion, and the Advanced Petrochemical Company, which works in the plastics sector and has investments amounting to $168 million.

South Koreans have made 132 investments in the Kingdom with a total value of approximately $3.66 billion. These cover sectors as varied as mining and quarrying, electricity, gas, air conditioning, transportation and storage, manufacturing and construction.

The companies involved in the investments include Samsung, International Maritime Industries, Rabigh Electricity Company, Alia Polymers Company, and Saudi Steel Pipes Company.




Transport makes up a sizeable chunk of trade between Saudi Arabia and South Korea.  (AFP file photo)

Samsung Engineering and Hyundai Group obtained a contract to implement work at the Jafurah gas field project in Saudi Arabia with a value of more than $11 billion.

In 2021, the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property registered 447 industrial models, 2,881 trademarks, and 543 patents among the filings of Korean companies. Samsung Electronics alone has 145 registered industrial models, while Daewoong Pharmaceutical has the highest number of registered patents, 16 in total.

Saudi Arabia and South Korea also share compatible plans to combat climate change, with the latter aiming to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the Kingdom aiming for the same goal by 2060.




South Korea’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, right, with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Seoul during their meeting.

In January of this year, on the sidelines of the Saudi-Korean Investment Forum in Riyadh, attended by former President Moon Jae-in, the Saudi Public Investment Fund, Korea’s POSCO, and the Construction Division of Samsung C&T announced a tripartite memorandum of understanding to develop a green hydrogen export project.

There is more to the relationship than business and investments, however. The two nations have forged significant cultural ties since the Kingdom opened its doors to entertainment, concerts and world cinema.




South Korean K-pop bands are frequent performers in the Kingdom, a sign of stronger cultural ties between the two countries. (AFP file photo)

K-pop stars Super Junior and BTS have performed in the Kingdom and Korean films and television series have graced its screens, provoking a growing interest in South Korea’s cultural offerings among young Saudis.

Around 175 Saudi students are now studying in South Korea, including many on special scholarships.

Given this scale of investment and the number of cultural exchanges underway, the Saudi-South Korean relationship is likely to be further strengthened by the crown prince’s ongoing visit.

 


Saudi-Indonesia kinship in spotlight as Kingdom pledges support to restore Jakarta Islamic Center

Saudi-Indonesia kinship in spotlight as Kingdom pledges support to restore Jakarta Islamic Center
Updated 22 sec ago

Saudi-Indonesia kinship in spotlight as Kingdom pledges support to restore Jakarta Islamic Center

Saudi-Indonesia kinship in spotlight as Kingdom pledges support to restore Jakarta Islamic Center
  • Major fire at JIC in late October destroyed dome of grand mosque
  • Islamic centers with ‘significant role’ in promoting tolerant Islam

JAKARTA: Indonesian officials have thanked Saudi Arabia after its pledge to finance the restoration of the Jakarta Islamic Center.

The announcement, which was made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier this month, has reaffirmed the close and important relations between the two countries.

A major fire broke out at JIC in late October, destroying the iconic dome of a grand mosque located at the complex.

The crown prince announced the Kingdom’s financing of the center’s restoration earlier this month, and the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the planned restoration “confirms his keenness and interest in Islamic centers in all brotherly and friendly countries.” 

Saudi’s financial help is expected to help speed up the restoration process which, according to the center’s management, could have taken as long as five years without assistance.

Paimun Abdul Karim, spokesman of JIC’s management, told Arab News: “We are very grateful for such help from the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“We are filled with thanks because it means the restoration will be faster.

“His action shows the solidarity between Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia’s plan to help us shows the good relations between the Saudi and Indonesian governments, and it will bring great benefits for us.

“This is another way to open up JIC’s diplomacy and connection to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.”

JIC’s work has centered on the promotion of tolerant and moderate Islam, with the complex housing not only a grand mosque, but also a research studies center and a conference hall which hosts various programs and gatherings.

Eko Hartono, Indonesia’s consul general in Jeddah, told Arab News that the support offered by Saudi Arabia “reaffirmed the closeness of friendly relations” between Jakarta and Riyadh.

He added: “Saudi’s assistance also reaffirms the country’s commitment to help the Muslim world and glory of Islam in every part of the world, including Indonesia.”

Marzuki Abubakar, researcher and lecturer at Ar-Raniry State Islamic University in Banda Aceh, said Indonesia, which is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has always had a very close relationship with the Kingdom.

He told Arab News: “Islam in Indonesia certainly has its own unique characteristics that have captured the world’s attention, and this has led to campaigns for religious tolerance and moderation, which are also important for Saudi Arabia.

“This is why Saudi Arabia’s participation in supporting programs related to tolerance and moderation, including at the Jakarta Islamic Center, has become very important.”


Amnesty International criticizes UK MPs for calls to deport trafficked Albanians

Amnesty International criticizes UK MPs for calls to deport trafficked Albanians
Updated 28 November 2022

Amnesty International criticizes UK MPs for calls to deport trafficked Albanians

Amnesty International criticizes UK MPs for calls to deport trafficked Albanians
  • Group of 50 Conservatives demands prime minister removes ‘loopholes’ in asylum law
  • Organization says returning trafficked people is likely to ‘deliver them into cruel exploitation all over again’

LONDON: A row is brewing in the UK after Amnesty International condemned a group of Conservative MPs who called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to return Albanian asylum-seekers to their home country — including those claiming to be victims of human trafficking.

The UK has witnessed a marked increase in the number of Albanians coming to the country in the past 12 months, with many who cross the English Channel in small boats claiming they have been trafficked, and are victims of modern slavery.

The group of more than 50 politicians said moves to expedite the process of deporting Albanians was necessary to dissuade migrants from making the journey from what, they said, was a safe country, and reduce significant backlogs in the UK’s asylum process.

In a letter to Sunak, the MPs said: “If they (asylum-seekers) have really been taken (to the UK) against their will, then they could not reasonably object to being returned to their own homes.

“The quirks in our modern slavery laws that prevent this are clearly in defiance of the aims of that law and should be removed.”

David Davis MP, one of the signatories, told Sky News: “The Home Office itself has not been interpreting the asylum laws correctly. The point is to turn the turnaround time for an Albanian landing on our shores from years to days or weeks.

“That’s the aim and we think it’s possible. If we don’t do it, the Home Office is never going to be able to cope with the number of applications. It’s already 420 days to get a decision. It’d be longer and longer.”

He added that fear of persecution by smugglers and criminal gangs should not enable people to claim asylum.

“I’m not scapegoating the individual Albanians. What I want to do is to close those loopholes,” he said.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International’s UK refugee and migrant rights program director, criticized Davis, telling The Guardian: “There does seem to be quite a lot of nonsense here.

“The starting point is whether your government is unwilling or unable to provide protection from persecution. It doesn’t set out who your persecutors have to be.

“It could be organized crime, or a blood feud. It can also be women who are persecuted by their own families. The question is whether the state is both able and willing to provide the protections that it is expected under international law to provide.”

He added: “Not every survivor of human trafficking is necessarily unsafe to be returned, but returning someone to where they were trafficked from is likely to deliver them into cruel exploitation all over again, unless there is some significant improvement to their circumstances in that place.”


WHO: Monkeypox to be renamed mpox

WHO: Monkeypox to be renamed mpox
Updated 28 November 2022

WHO: Monkeypox to be renamed mpox

WHO: Monkeypox to be renamed mpox
  • Bid to avoid stigmatization stemming from the existing name
  • Some 81,107 cases and 55 deaths have been reported to the WHO this year

GENEVA: Monkeypox is to be renamed mpox in English, the World Health Organization announced Monday, in a bid to avoid stigmatization stemming from the existing name.
Monkeypox received its name because the virus was originally identified in monkeys kept for research in Denmark in 1958, but the disease is found in a number of animals, and most frequently in rodents.
“Following a series of consultations with global experts, WHO will begin using a new preferred term ‘mpox’ as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while ‘monkeypox’ is phased out,” the UN health agency said in a statement.
“WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name.”
The disease was first discovered in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the spread among humans since then mainly limited to certain West and Central African countries where it is endemic.
But in May, cases of the disease, which causes fever, muscular aches and large boil-like skin lesions, began spreading rapidly around the world, mainly among men who have sex with men.
Some 81,107 cases and 55 deaths have been reported to the WHO this year, from 110 countries.


Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities
Updated 28 November 2022

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities
  • Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of shelling the site of the Zaporizhzhia reactor complex
  • UN nuclear watchdog wants to create a protection zone around the nuclear power station

KYIV: The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine remains under Russian control, authorities installed by Moscow in the nearby city of Enerhodar said on Monday, after a Ukrainian official suggested Russian forces were preparing to leave.
“The media are actively spreading fake news that Russia is allegedly planning to withdraw from Enerhodar and leave the (plant). This information is not true,” the Russia-installed administration wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
The head of Ukraine’s state-run nuclear energy company said on Sunday there were signs that Russian forces might be preparing to vacate the vast Zaporizhzhia plant which they seized in March, soon after invading Ukraine.
Ukraine, which suffered the world’s worst nuclear accident in Chornobyl in 1986, and Russia have accused each other of shelling the site of the Zaporizhzhia reactor complex.
Both sides have warned of the danger of a nuclear catastrophe. The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency), wants to create a protection zone around the nuclear power station, which is Europe’s largest.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said late on Sunday that he had no doubt that Russian forces would leave the plant, where Ukrainian staff are still operating. Many of these workers live in Enerhodar.
“The defense line is starting to retreat to the borders of the Russian Federation,” Podolyak told Ukrainian television, adding that Ukraine would “take it (the plant) back.”
Ukraine’s military said on Monday its forces late last week destroyed six units of Russian military equipment and that about 30 Russian servicemen were wounded in fighting near Enerhodar.
Reuters was not able to immediately verify the reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin moved in September to annex Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and the Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine where his forces say they have partial control. Kyiv and its Western allies condemned the move as illegal.


US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA

US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA
Updated 28 November 2022

US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA

US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA
  • Russia and the US have been discussing a deal that could see the basketball star in exchange for convicted weapons trafficker Viktor Bout

MOSCOW: The United States and Russia are discussing the release of basketball star Brittney Griner and ex-marine Paul Whelan through special channels, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Monday, citing a top US diplomat.
Elizabeth Rood, charge d’affaires of the US embassy in Russia, was quoted as saying that the United States had submitted a serious proposal for consideration but it had not received a “serious response” back from Russia.
Russia and the United States have been discussing a deal that could see Griner, who is facing nine years in jail in Russia on drug charges, return to the United States in exchange for convicted Russian weapons trafficker Viktor Bout.
No deal has materialized amid heightened tensions between the two countries.