ABU DHABI // The King Sejong Institute, the first organisation in the UAE teaching Korean language and culture, has opened at Zayed University.
Designed to further ties between the UAE and South Korea, the institute, based at the university's International College, will reach out to students and the community. About 50 students have signed up for classes at the organisation.
Demand for Korean language courses and classes about the Asian country's culture has come from many students at the university. In a poll taken last year at Zayed, Korean was voted the second most popular foreign language, behind only French.
The Korean Club, which now has about 150 members, was founded at the university in April last year.
Asma Omar, 20, is the club's president. "It raises global awareness and allows the students to experience Korea's rich cultural offerings, as well as enhancing their communication skills," said Ms Omar.
Business and economic ties between the two countries are growing, and South Korean companies are the main contractors behind the UAE's nascent nuclear power programme.
The South Korean ambassador to the UAE, Kwon Tae Kyun, said that the institute's founding is "timely, given the heightened bilateral relations that so happily exist between the UAE and Korea".
Sarah Juwaid, 18, a student at Zayed, is desperate to learn Korean. Although she wants to work in human resources, she said learning the language is a personal desire.
"I know a little Korean from watching so many movies. I love them. I love the culture, the music, the whole thing. The stories are different to the American or Arabic dramas."