I returned to Seoul this afternoon (February 21) after a 5-day visit to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE. I was invited to give a keynote speech at the ceremony for the Dubai Awards for Sustainable Transport 2013. I met the country’s important political figures, introduced Seoul City’s transportation administration and e-Government, and joined in marketing activities for Korean businesses.
There, I saw Koreans engaged in construction work; they impressed me deeply. They were working in a distant country to earn money, but I consider them to be patriots. I heard that desalination and power plants are the major works they do there. I think it’s time we turn our attention to sectors with higher added value, such as consulting, knowledge industry, culture/arts-related industry, architectural design, or city building project like the one implemented by Siemens in Turkey.
We should upgrade our competiveness in areas such as sophisticated consulting against that of Europe, United States, and Japan. That reminds me of something: the need to set up a strategy for exporting our experience in city building.
The trip to the UAE gave me a good opportunity to check what grand visions small countries in the Middle East have and what policies they are formulating to realize such visions. They are making preparations for a post-petroleum era by taking sustainability into account. As a small nation surrounded by large countries, the UAE is making efforts to emerge as a regional hub. Its people are engaged in culture/art-related projects and ecological experiments. They are broad-minded enough to utilize talented people from all over the world yet still adhere to Islamic principles. I think I learned a lot of things there. It will help me set desirable directions concerning the future development of Seoul.
Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon explaining the public transportation system of Seoul to the Chairman of the National Transport Authority of the UAE at a meeting during his visit to the UAE