Under the patronage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, the 19th Korea Middle East Cooperation Forum was co-organized by the Diplomatic Institute at Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Middle East Council on Global Affairs the Korea-Arab Society (KAS), Jeju Peace Institute (JPI), and Ibn Khaldon Center at Qatar University on November 6, 2023, at the Ritz Carlton Doha, Qatar.
Hosted for the first time in Qatar, this year’s forum, held under the theme: “Korea and the Middle East: Towards Stronger Cooperation and Partnership”, took place in the backdrop of increased interaction and cooperation between the Republic of Korea and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This collaboration spans a wide range of areas, including diplomacy, culture, and politics. The forum was attended by prominent figures from Korea and the Middle East involved in various political, economic, and academic fields.
To launch the forum, H.E. Dr. Ahmad Hassen Al-Hammadi, Secretary-General at Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave congratulatory remarks, noting that this year’s forum takes place on the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations between Qatar and Korea, and 20 years after the launch of the forum. He stated: “The State of Qatar and the Republic of Korea share common visions on many regional and international matters.” His Excellency then expressed gratitude to the Korean people and human rights organizations who are standing in solidarity with the people of Palestine amidst Israel’s ongoing genocide of Palestinians.
Additionally, H.E. Byung-Won Chung, Deputy Minister for Political Affairs at the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that “This year’s forum is especially meaningful as it is being held for the first time in five years in the Middle East.” He also highlighted the importance of dialogue and democracy to overcome conflict in the MENA region.
The forum’s opening ceremony included opening remarks from H.E. Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Horr, Director of the Diplomatic Institute at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, who said: “We have to set ambitious and bold goals to reinforce bilateral ties, and to be partners to find solutions to global issues like climate change and sustainable development.” Afterwards, H.E. Young-hoon Kang, President of the Jeju Peace Institute, delivered his address, expressing his gratitude to the organizers and conveying Korea’s anticipation to the forum’s 20th session next year which will take place in Seoul Highlighting the importance of the forum, he said: “This forum will be an avenue through which we will enhance collaboration in key sectors like defense and energy, while also expanding the scope of cooperation to address new challenges.”
Following that, Dr. Nayef bin Nahar, Director of Ibn Khaldon Center at Qatar University, delivered welcoming remarks, emphasizing the importance of cultural collaborations and exchanges between Korea and the Middle East, as a way to establish new centers of knowledge production. He emphasized the timeliness of the forum, “it is happening in the context of the self-discovery of the East and the discovery of the relationship between the countries of the East. The Middle East needs to discover our strengths, and the Korean example is rich with lessons for us.” H.E. Khalid Bin Ibrahim Al-Hamar, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the Republic of Korea, also shared his perspective by saying: “Bilateral relations between Korea and Qatar have witnessed a big transformation in the past few decades across multiple sectors, from those previously established like infrastructure, energy, and construction, to new areas like agriculture, renewable energy, and hydrogen, as the two countries have partnered to advance industry, technological partnership.”
The forum featured three sessions: “Future Prospects for Korea and the Middle East,” “Promoting Economic Partnerships in an Era of Green Transition,” and “Culture and People: The Future of Korea-Middle East Ties.” Each session hosted both Korean and Middle Eastern expert speakers, followed by questions from the audience.
H.E. Chang Mo Kim, Secretary-General of Korea-Arab Society (KAS) delivered the closing remarks, followed by Dr. Tarik Yousef, Senior Fellow and Director of Middle East Council on Global Affairs who concluded the forum with remarks on the importance of these types of dialogues to overcome the challenges that the uncertainty of the future of globalization present to the wider region.
For more information about the speakers and the Forum’s agenda, please visit the website: https://events.mecouncil.org/The19thKoreaMiddleEastCooperationForum