In collaboration with Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), H2O Hospitality (H2O), a South Korean digital innovation company, has established its regional headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

ADIO provided H2O, which operates in the accommodation and leisure sector, with a comprehensive range of growth-enabling support, including financial incentives, setup enablement and connections to the Abu Dhabi ecosystem and international trade opportunities.

The move highlights the strong economic cooperation between South Korea and Abu Dhabi, which has become increasingly focussed on innovation and technology. In the past 10 years, South Korea has been ranked as the most innovative nation six times by the Bloomberg Innovation Index. Abu Dhabi was also named the smartest city in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region for 2023 in the IMD Smart City Index, released by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD). 

Badr Al-Olama, Acting Director General of ADIO, said: Both Abu Dhabi and South Korea are globally known for their approach to innovation, sharing similar visions for digital transformation, and are natural partners to navigate the tech-enabled future.

“At the same time, Abu Dhabi has become renowned for its diverse investment climate, enabling ecosystem and global status as a hub for digitalisation, making it the perfect choice for innovative companies like H2O Hospitality to realise their growth ambitions. At ADIO, we remain focussed on partnerships that create real-world impact, and we’re here to welcome the world’s most innovative companies to join our vibrant economy.”

H2O’s new headquarters in Abu Dhabi’s Global Market (ADGM) will advance the next phase of its international growth as it seeks to emulate its success in Asia and capture opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) hospitality market. The regional tourism market is expected to continue growing with passenger volumes fully recovering in 2024, reaching a projected 400 million travellers.

For the UAE, during the first quarter of 2023, hotels generated revenues of more than AED 12.2 billion, and over 7.2 million guests visited the country. Hotel room rates are also expected to rise by 7.1 percent in Abu Dhabi in 2024.

H2O’s solutions will also contribute to Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector.  The company is connected to more than 85 online travel agencies, in addition to managing over 190,000 units and 680 properties. It provides solutions which automate the front and back-end processes of hotels by digitising the process flow, enabling paperless and contactless procedures that improve efficiency and profitability for operators. H2O’s solutions in Abu Dhabi will enhance guest experience with mobile-based booking, check-in, smart locks, in-room services and payments.

John Lee, Founder and CEO of H2O, said: “Digital transformation has become an even more pressing matter for the hospitality industry. H2O will make maximum use of its technologies and know-how for Abu Dhabi customers seeking to be on the cutting edge of the era’s trends. We plan to make every effort to support Abu Dhabi to develop the tourism sector through our full-fledged business expansion in Abu Dhabi with the support from ADIO.”

Salem Mohammed Al Darei, CEO of ADGM Authority, said: “We congratulate H2O Hospitality for choosing ADGM, the International Financial Centre of the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, as their regional headquarters and gateway to the EMEA region.

“The establishment of H2O in ADGM reflects the appeal and value proposition of this financial centre, making it a preferred destination for global entities in various innovative sectors. This also highlights the strategic collaboration between ADGM and ADIO in establishing a robust platform that fosters investments and innovation, aligning with Abu Dhabi’s vision for growth and economic diversification.”

ADIO opened an office in Seoul in 2021 to develop new relationships with South Korean companies. H2O joins other key players that have collaborated with ADIO to establish their Abu Dhabi operations, including Bespin Global, a leading cloud technology consulting and management company, Korean Best Team for Smart Farm Consortium (K-BTS Consortium), consisting of Pomit, Nongshim, Agro Solution Korea and MS Group, and Neoply, a blockchain technology company.