The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) today welcomed the latest two South Korean companies to the UAE capital’s innovation ecosystem. H2O Hospitality (H2O) and Korean Best Team for Smart Farm Consortium (K-BTS Consortium consisting of Pomit, Nongshim, Agro Solution Korea and MS Group) announced plans to set up in Abu Dhabi during South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s state visit to the UAE.

H2O, a digital transformation company in the hospitality and leisure industry, and K-BTS Consortium, an AgTech consortium that will grow Korean strawberry varieties from six new smart farms, will benefit from Abu Dhabi’s innovation ecosystem and commitment to transform sectors like agriculture and hospitality through technology.

Abu Dhabi is an established growth market for South Korean companies and in 2021 ADIO opened an office in Seoul to develop new relationships across the two ecosystems. With support from ADIO, Bespin Global, a leading cloud technology consulting and management company, recently opened its MEA headquarters in Abu Dhabi, featuring a Cloud Operations Centre and the Bespin Global Training Academy. In December, Bespin Global formed a joint venture with the UAE’s e& enterprise, part of e& (formerly known as Etisalat Group) to offer cloud managed and professional services in the Middle East, Turkey, Africa and Pakistan (METAP) region.

Eng. Abdulla Abdul Aziz AlShamsi, Acting Director General of ADIO, said: “Collaboration between the UAE and South Korea spans decades and is interwoven across many sectors. In recent years, Abu Dhabi’s ecosystem and infrastructure has proven to be the ideal foundation for innovative South Korean companies like Bespin Global, H2O and K-BTS Consortium looking to establish or expand their regional operations. ADIO is delighted to welcome the latest generation of South Korean companies to Abu Dhabi and looks forward to them building on our shared history to bring new ideas and solutions to life.”

H2O automates the front and back-end process of hotel operation by digitally converting existing manual hotel tasks, enabling paperless and contactless hotel operations that increase greater efficiency and profitability. H2O currently manages over 40,000 rooms in Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia, and will establish its MEA HQ in Abu Dhabi, including an R&D facility and digital transformation academy for the hospitality industry. Once operational, H2O MEA will support Abu Dhabi’s leadership in the smart tourism and hospitality digital transformation spaces.

John LEE, Founder & CEO of H2O Hospitality, said: “H2O leads Digital Transformation of hotels in major tourist cities around the world, allowing hotels to reinforce sustainability without relying on booking agencies. Recently, the tourism industry in the Middle East, such as Dubai Expo, GITEX, D33 and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, is attracting attention worldwide. We want to create synergies together and support the UAE to become the centre of the global tourism industry.”

K-BTS Consortium will leverage Abu Dhabi’s AgTech leadership to operate six smart farms producing fresh Korean strawberries year-round in the UAE capital. Korean strawberry varieties are known for their size, sweetness, and taste.  Korean Best Team for Smart Farm Consortium is a joint venture with local strategic partner Al Marina Holding and consists of Pomit, Nongshim, Agro Solution Korea and MS Group. The estimated investment into Abu Dhabi’s economy is USD 16 million. The Korean consortium will benefit from Abu Dhabi’s innovation ecosystem to increase the efficiency of sustainable farming and continue expanding the availability of quality, locally grown produce.

Sang Hoon YANG, Managing Director of MENA Office, Pomit, said: “First of all, we, K-BTS Consortium, would like to thank Korean Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, KOTRA and ADIO. Without a second thought, we have chosen Abu Dhabi as the first country in GCC to localise Korean Strawberry Smart Farm technologies because the strawberry Smart Farm requires the highest end AgTech-related infrastructures and markets for premium and high-end products. We plan to expand to other Middle East countries, Africa and Europe based on the success in Abu Dhabi in near future. K-BTS Consortium will go with the local partner beyond K-Strawberry to other high value crops.” 

H2O and K-BTS Consortium were in the UAE to attend the Korea-UAE Business Forum in Abu Dhabi attended by more than 120 Korean government officials and businesses.