Masdar City, the Abu Dhabi Government's carbon-neutral development, gained a tenant from Seoul yesterday in a sign of the deepening relationship between the capital and South Korea.
The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), created by the South Korean government, opened an office in Abu Dhabi and plans to move into a space in Masdar City once it has been built. The institute has partnered with 10 countries, including the UAE this year, to drive environmentally sustainable economic growth.
"In green growth as well as renewable energy, the UAE is at the forefront," said Han Seung-soo, the institute's chairman, a former South Korean prime minister. "There's a lot of room for us to cooperate in this particular area."
The institute is the latest element in a strategic partnership between the two nations, one with scant natural energy resources and the other rich in fossil fuels. In its relationship with the UAE, South Korea brings healthcare expertise and counter-piracy military training.
But the most prominent aspect of the relationship is a plan for the South Korean utility Kepco to build four nuclear reactors, worth US$20 billion (Dh73.45bn), in Abu Dhabi. In March, the emirate awarded Seoul a stake to develop one or more oilfields with at least 1 billion barrels of reserves, which is expected to boost South Korea's self-sufficiency in oil and gas from 10.5 to 15 per cent.
"We'd like to have a more close relationship in the area of energy, including exploitation of oilfields and gasfields," Mr Han said yesterday.
The new tenant is welcome news for Masdar City, the 6-square-km development planned by Masdar, which has signed up major corporations such as General Electric and Siemens as anchor tenants but faced an uphill struggle amid the economic crisis and rising office vacancy rates in Abu Dhabi.
A GGGI official said the institute had been given favourable terms on rent and that much of the UAE's contribution would go to its own green-energy programme. "Most of the money from the UAE Government will be spent for the sake of the UAE," said the official.
Last year, Kwon Tae-kyun, South Korea's ambassador to the UAE, said the Emirates must offer incentives for South Korean companies to set up here.
"You have to think in the minds of potential investors. You have to induce. You cannot just ask them to come," Mr Kwon said last July. "If the UAE Government puts some money in, we can also put money there."