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(LEAD) S. Korean biz heavyweights, Saudi crown prince discuss cooperation

Economy 20:10 November 17, 2022

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; ADDS photo, details in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korean business leaders met Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Seoul on Thursday to discuss business cooperation, including the construction of a futuristic mega city.

Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and Hyundai Motor Group's Chairman Euisun Chung were among the eight South Korean business leaders who attended the meeting held late in the day with the crown prince at a hotel in downtown Seoul.

South Korean companies are seeking to participate and win construction deals in Saudi Arabia's $500 billion project, known as Neom, to build an automated, sustainable city, operated by robots and powered by solar energy, in the kingdom's northwest province of Tabuk.

Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong arrives at Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul on Nov. 17, 2022, to meet Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman. (Yonhap)

Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong arrives at Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul on Nov. 17, 2022, to meet Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman. (Yonhap)

The project was unveiled by the crown prince during an investment conference in Riyadh in 2017.

Mohammed bin Salman, known as Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, arrived in Seoul early Thursday. He is expected to leave the country late in the day.

His first -- and the last -- visit to the country was in June 2019, when he also met South Korean business tycoons, including Samsung's Lee.

The Saudi crown prince has been pushing to reshape the country's economy under the Vision 2030 initiative, to which the Neom project belongs, by moving beyond oil and boosting foreign investment and tourism.

In June, the consortium of Samsung C&T Corp., the construction unit of Samsung Group, and Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., won a part of the drill and blast tunneling contract of the Neom project.

While the exact amount of the contract was not made public, it was considered one of the world's largest transportation and utility infrastructure projects.

Samsung is also seeking to strengthen science and technology cooperation with Saudi Arabia for the kingdom's Neom project, for which advanced technology, like artificial intelligence and Internet of Things, and wireless communication are essential.

Details of the meeting were not made public.

"We talked about enhancing cooperation in future projects, just like we have been doing for many years," Chung Ki-sun, CEO of Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings Co., told reporters after the meeting.

Earlier in the day, the Saudi crown prince expressed his hope to enhance cooperation in the infrastructure, energy and defense sectors, in particular, to realize the Vision 2030 initiative during his meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won arrives at Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul on Nov. 17, 2022, to meet Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman. (Yonhap)

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won arrives at Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul on Nov. 17, 2022, to meet Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman. (Yonhap)

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) talks with South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo after arriving at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, around 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 17, 2022, in this photo released by the Prime Minister's Office. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) talks with South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo after arriving at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, around 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 17, 2022, in this photo released by the Prime Minister's Office. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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