x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE ambassador transfers to Chile

His former posting in South Korea involved arranging a nuclear power agreement between the two countries.

BEIJING // The UAE's ambassador to South Korea, whose time in post saw the signing of a nuclear power agreement between the nations, is leaving Seoul and moving to South America.

Abdulla al Ma'ainah is taking up a diplomatic posting in Santiago, Chile, just over a year after the UAE awarded the US$20 billion (Dh73.5bn) contract to build four nuclear power plants in the Emirates to a consortium led by the South Korea-based Kepco.

Speaking to The Korea Herald newspaper, Mr al Ma'ainah said he "worked both ways to get that deal", which was signed in December 2009 and saw South Korea fend off competition from French, Japanese and US rivals.

"There were many offers from many countries but we built the trust between our two governments to get that deal," Mr al Ma'ainah said.

"We also put Korea in the spotlight so that our government could see what Korea has to offer. We spoke, explained and put a lot of effort behind the deal, a lot of legwork too."

Other highlights of Mr al Ma'ainah's five-and-a-half years in South Korea included the launch by Etihad Airways in December of a direct service between Abu Dhabi and Seoul. Mr al Ma'ainah was at Incheon International Airport near Seoul to welcome the first flight.

A month later, ties were further cemented when 130 South Korean special forces arrived in Al Ain. The troops came as part of a two-year agreement to train and conduct exercises with their Emirati counterparts.

"I'm also proud of the rapprochement and communication made between the two countries at the leadership and business levels as well as at the people-to-people and cultural levels," Mr al Ma'ainah said.

Mr al Ma'ainah's wife, Aida, told the Herald she "enjoyed exchanging and finding similarities between the two countries".

"If one of my children doesn't do their homework, or I get a complaint from their school, then I get crazy like a Korean mother," she said.

dbardsley@thenational.ae