Seoul, South Korea — President Yoon Suk Yeol is scheduled for a five-day state visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week, aiming to bolster economic and security relations between South Korea and these two key Middle Eastern nations, his office announced on Thursday.
Yonhap News Agency reports that President Yoon will visit Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from Saturday to Tuesday. He is set to hold a summit with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. The summit follows the signing of 26 memorandums of understanding worth approximately $29 billion last year when the crown prince visited Seoul.
Following his Saudi Arabian visit, Yoon will travel to Doha, Qatar, from Tuesday to Wednesday for another summit, this time with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Yoon will be the first South Korean president to make a state visit to either country.
Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo stated in a press briefing that the upcoming visits aim to go beyond existing ties in energy and construction. "Now, our partnership with the Middle Eastern region will move to a new stage that includes hydrogen, IT, autos, shipbuilding, renewable energy, culture, entertainment, and other future industry sectors," he said.
The state visits come against the backdrop of ongoing conflicts between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Kim added that discussions on the regional security situation are expected to be a part of the summits.
In Riyadh, President Yoon will also attend a South Korea-Saudi Arabia investment forum and speak at King Saud University. Additionally, he will be a guest of honor at the annual Future Investment Initiative forum. His visit to Doha includes a bilateral business forum and a visit to the 2023 International Horticultural Exposition.
Choi Sang-mok, senior presidential secretary for economic affairs, revealed that Yoon will use the summit meetings to discuss ways to stabilize oil and gas supplies, especially in light of rising uncertainties due to wars in Ukraine and Israel.
Yoon will be accompanied by large business delegations during both visits, including prominent business leaders like Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong and Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung.
President Yoon is expected to return home early next Thursday, joined by first lady Kim Keon Hee.