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UAE president, Hyundai Motor chief discuss green mobility partnerships in Seoul

May 29, 2024 - 16:15 By Moon Joon-hyun
United Arab Emirates President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrives for a meeting with Korean chaebols chiefs, including Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun, at Lotte Hotel Seoul on Tuesday. (Newsis)

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun met with United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Seoul on Tuesday to discuss enhancing private-sector collaboration in sustainable mobility during Al Nahyan's visit to Korea this week.

The UAE President's visit, his first to South Korea, also included meetings with leaders of other major South Korean conglomerates, such as Samsung Electronics' Lee Jae-yong and SK Group's Chey Tae-won. These discussions preceded his summit with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Wednesday, which covered defense industry cooperation, business and investment opportunities, and energy initiatives.

Though the specific details have not been officially disclosed, Hyundai is likely to strengthen its comprehensive alliance with the UAE to develop a robust supply chain for future mobility solutions. This partnership includes collaborative efforts in hydrogen technology, aluminum produced with solar energy, eco-friendly transportation and advanced air mobility.

"As Middle Eastern countries pivot from oil, Hyundai is in an excellent position to leverage this shift with its lead in electric and hydrogen mobility tech," an industry expert noted.

In December last year, Hyundai established a future mobility alliance with Mubadala Investment Company, a UAE state-owned investment firm founded in 2002. One of the initial steps of this partnership involved sourcing aluminum made with solar energy from the UAE for the production of Hyundai's electric vehicles.

Hyundai is also pioneering hydrogen technology within the UAE. In November, Hyundai signed an agreement with the UAE's BEEAH Group to pilot hydrogen-powered trucks in Sharjah and Dubai. These hydrogen-electric trucks, if successful, could lead to BEEAH converting its entire fleet of over 2,000 waste collection vehicles to hydrogen power. This initiative aligns with the UAE's goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In addition, Hyundai plans to increase the supply of eco-friendly vehicles to the UAE, the second-largest automobile market in the Middle East. This move is in line with Dubai's objective to convert all taxis to hybrid or electric vehicles by 2027.

Hyundai is expanding its footprint in Saudi Arabia too, with the introduction of the Stargazer minivan. The Stargazer, modeled after Hyundai's flagship Staria, is tailored for emerging markets. Hyundai's regional headquarters in the Middle East and Africa has been strengthening its local supplier network by recognizing and rewarding key suppliers.

"Our work in the Middle East and Africa is key to mitigating challenges in China and Russia, and we're committed to rolling out models that really meet the needs of emerging markets," a Hyundai Motor Group official said.

Hyundai is also investing over $500 million in a joint venture with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund to establish a Complete Knock Down plant in King Abdullah Economic City. This facility will enable Hyundai to assemble vehicles locally from imported kits, reducing manufacturing costs and improving supply chain efficiency.