Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Park Won-soon says Psy is a sign of the times. Christopher Pike / The National
Park Won-soon says Psy is a sign of the times. Christopher Pike / The National

Seoul mayor sees similarities with UAE

The Life: Park Won-soon, the mayor of Seoul, talks about the many similarities the city shares with Abu Dhabi - and why popster Psy is a great ambassador.

Park Won-soon was elected mayor of Seoul in October 2011. Mr Park gave the keynote speech at the Dubai Award for Sustainable Transport (Dast) last week, before visiting Abu Dhabi. Here he speaks about the many similarities the cities share - and why popster Psy is a great ambassador.

As well as the Dast awards, what else have you done on your trip?

I wanted to find out how we can cooperate. I found we had a lot of similarities especially in terms of geopolitical location: Dubai and Abu Dhabi have a critical position in south-west Asia and [the UAE] is also a hub at the centre of Europe, Africa and Asia; we are also very similar sandwiched between Japan and China. I looked at [the UAE's] policies and I gained a lot of insight. I also [wanted] to introduce Seoul's infrastructure policies in terms of transportation.

What were your impressions of the UAE?

We have much to learn from the UAE in terms of infrastructure and tourism.

Did you see any tourist sights?

I visited the Grand Mosque. I know people from all over the world flock to the Grand Mosque - those who have an admiration for architecture and art, they can come and inspect the very wondrous monument.

In what areas can cooperation increase?

Since the 1970s [we have] had a lot of partnership especially in the field of construction. As our relationship deepens, Korean companies advance into other areas as well. Seoul has a lot of best practices in transportation and e-government and it has a lot of know-how in managing such a large city - it's home to more than 10 million citizens. In e-government we have been ranked as top by the UN for five consecutive years. And CNN recently ranked Seoul as having one of the top nine metro systems in the world. I believe we can cooperate in the field of enhancing happiness as well because life is all about enhancing happiness.

What has been your priority as mayor?

My motto for Seoul is "From Good to Great". After the 1970s, we accomplished economic development rapidly. But the side effect of that was high stress levels or the gap between the rich and poor. And these issues call on me to focus on the welfare and quality of life of the citizens. Before we very much focused on the heavy industries. Of course those industries are important but now we need to place our focus on art and creative industries.

Psy has achieve global fame and is also very popular in the UAE. Is he a good ambassador for Seoul?

The influence of culture and arts is much larger than the influence of economy sometimes. Our respect for culture and diversity and arts is very low because we only focused on building the economy. But now as we have reached modernisation many citizens can display their potential for arts and culture and I believe that's why Psy has become so popular. Now is the time for us to revive and restore [our] culture.

lgutcher@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 A sign points the way to an outdoor market popular with German visitors on the Polish side of the German-Polish border. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

In pictures: A decade since the European Union went east

May 1 will mark 10 years since the European Union expanded east, taking in countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states as new members. And though the border region between Germany and Poland is flourishing with trade and cultural exchange, the open border has also brought a sharp rise in crime.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National