Saudi Arabia Committed to
Development of
Bilateral Ties with Korea

Both countries approach a new and more vigorous era of economic cooperation, partnership

The following is a message from Abdullah A. Al-Aifan, ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to South Korea, on the occasion of the National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia -- Ed.
On this auspicious occasion marking the National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I would like to express my profound appreciation to NewsWorld for the courtesy accorded me to be able to convey my sincerest greetings of friendship to the Korean people.
The present united and modern state of Saudi Arabia was founded on the first day of the sign of Libra 1351 H corresponding to the 23rd day of September 1932, which became the National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A day the nation celebrates and rejoices as it recalls with pride the deeds of the founder King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud as he completed the unification of the divided country and proclaimed a United Kingdom ruled by the tenets of Islam.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz was proclaimed the sixth King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Aug. 1, 2005.
Since then, King Abdullah has adopted a series of domestic and international policies that have brought positive impacts on not only Saudi Arabia, but also the international community as a whole. Among these are the Kingdom's measures in fighting terrorism, holding international conferences on energy supply, international crimes, environment problems and others. Under the patronage of His Majesty, the World Muslim Congress for Dialogue was held by the Muslim World League (MWL) in Mecca from May 31 to June 2, in order to increase mutual understanding among divine religions.
The moderate and balanced Saudi policy, under the distinguished leadership of King Abdullah, led the Kingdom to play a leading role in the Islamic world, and succeeded in achieving prosperity and providing welfare for its people, and has provided a helping hand to all those who are in need.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1962,
Saudi Arabia has been committed to the development of bilateral relations with Korea through cooperation in various fields. Saudi Arabia has been one of Korea's main allies, actively supporting Korea's position on various issues including the peaceful reunification of the two Koreas, as well as being Korea's largest oil supplier and one of the largest trading partners among the Arab countries. Such a close relationship has been greatly cemented through visits by high-ranking officials and heads of state of both countries.
Moreover, such a friendly bond and cooperation between the two countries are reflected by the numerous agreements signed in various fields including technology, culture, aviation, investment, education and more.
The Republic of Korea stands as one of the largest trading partners of the Kingdom with bilateral trade totaling $25.2 billion in 2007 and there have been various exchanges of visits by high ranking officials and leading businessmen, the last of which was the visit by His Excellency President Roh Moo-hyun to the Kingdom in late March of 2007.
Indeed, such bilateral cooperative relations and exchanges are not only shown in political and economic fields, but also in educational and cultural circles of both countries through many cooperative channels. In particular, I am deeply pleased to see the satisfying achievements made this year in cultural and people-to-people exchanges, which I believe play an effective role in shortening the distances between the hearts of two peoples with different backgrounds.
We have witnessed various exchanges taking place at all levels this year such as youth exchange visits, student exchanges, cultural events including art exhibitions, as well as visits by the Saudi Folklore Arts Team to Korea.
Indeed, one such significant event is the Saudi Arabia Cultural Festival, which will run from Oct. 8 to Nov. 30, 2008. The Festival, organized and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Royal Embassy and hosted by the Korea-Middle East Association,includes a variety of art performances by the Saudi Folklore Art Team, lectures and various cultural events along with exhibitions of traditional craftworks, historical relics and paintings that represent the ancient culture and tradition of the Kingdom and contribute to introducing the lifestyle of Saudi Arabia to the friendly Korean people.
The two countries have also witnessed a big leap in exchanges in the education field since the signing of the memorandum of understanding on cooperation in higher education by the two governments in March 2007. We have had an increasing number of students each year and currently more than 50 Saudi students, funded by the Saudi government, have been studying in some of Korea's renowned universities. No doubt, students of both countries will gain priceless opportunities to broaden their views and widen their scope of understanding of each other's cultures and people of different backgrounds.
Also, one of the most meaningful activities was indeed the blood donation campaign last June, which was carried out by the Saudi Embassy, in cooperation with the Korean Red Cross, in hopes to contribute to the further development of our friendship.
Such exchanges and activities in cultural and social fields have never been so rich in form and content, and have greatly contributed to our efforts to build a solid understanding and friendship of the two peoples and eventually enhance the relations of both countries.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea are approaching a new and more vigorous era of economic cooperation and partnership. I am confident that there is still ample room for increasing the cooperative ties through bilateral investments and joint venture projects. In particular, Saudi Arabia has embarked on a series of massive projects of breathtaking scope.
One of the single largest private sector investments would be 'King Abdullah Economic City,'a multi-stage development project officially launched by King Abdullah in December 2005. With an investment of SR 100 billion ($26.6 billion), the mega project, to be built at a pristine location off the Red Sea in the north of Jeddah, will closely integrate itself into the Kingdom's ongoing drive to expand the economy, create employment opportunities for its youth and function as a catalyst to attract global trade, commerce, industry and foreign investment.
This will present new opportunities for Korea. Hence, I would like to invite Korean businessmen and companies to participate once again in the development of the Kingdom and take part in the Kingdom's future. With Saudi capital and resources and Korean technology and know-how, the opportunities are wide open.
The desire of the two countries to enter into a strategic and long lasting economic business partnership leads me to believe that such a goal is not too hard to achieve, and the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and I will spare no effort to achieve it.
Finally, I am deeply touched by the hospitality and warmth of the Korean people. I trust and hope that efforts will be further intensified to boost the constantly deepening relationship between our two countries founded on the spirit of peace, progress and prosperity for all mankind. nw

Abdullah A. Al-Aifan, ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to South Korea, speaks during the National Day anniversary.

The Saudi Arabian ambassador chats with Korean Unification Minister Kim Ha-joong during the anniversary event.

Map of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's residential area

Saudi Arabia's urban skyline.

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