Showing off Korean strength

Korean firms are rapidly making their mark in the region as fast-paced development creates vast opportunities in the construction sector. Harrison Cho, CEO of Sungwon’s Dubai Branch, tells CW why he thinks that Dubai is a good place to set up shop.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  September 9, 2006

|~|136int200.gif|~|Sungwon is the latest Korean construction firm to hit the Gulf. Cho says: “Dubai is an international hub covering all of the Middle East – its thriving construction and real estate industry was a major factor [in our decision].”|~|What is Sungwon Corporation’s principal area of business?

Founded in 1978 in South Korea, Sungwon Corporation is a large-scale integrated real estate development, construction and engineering company employing over 2,000 staff. It is a publicly traded firm, which is listed on the Korean Stock Exchange with a group-wide turnover of over US $800 million (KRW766.8 billion).

The company focuses on luxury residential and commercial complexes, civil works, environmental plants and special projects such as championship golf courses and world-class stadia and resorts.

Sungwon is also active globally in the UAE, Qatar, Kazakhstan and South East Asia.

What type of major projects has Sungwon been involved in?

Sungwon is one of Korea’s leading developers and contractors of award-winning luxury high-rise residential complexes. It has developed, constructed and sold over 140,000 units to date, with a further 10,000 more units due to be completed this year alone.

It is also involved in bridge, highway and tunnel construction, as well as railroad infrastructure, port facilities and the design and construction of water and sewage treatment and recycling plants.

Some of Sungwon’s key projects in South Korea include the Jeonju 2002 World Cup Stadium, Santehill Golf Course, Seoul Subway, Kyeongbu High Speed Railroad, Yeongdong Express Highway and Yongdam Bridge.

Why did Sungwon Corporation choose to set up its Middle East Headquarters in Dubai?

Pursuing its mission to develop its business globally, Sungwon launched its Dubai branch in July. The company became interested in the Dubai market through bidding for civil work in Doha, Qatar. This helped us to understand that Dubai is an international hub covering all of the Middle East, hence we chose Dubai as the site for Sungwon – its thriving construction and real estate industry was a major factor.

In addition to building residential apartments, Sungwon also carries out large-scale civil works and engineering projects. The Middle East offers a tremendous opportunity for the firm with respect to roads, highways and plant construction contracting work. With this, Korean investors are becoming more and more interested in Dubai.

What is the benefit of having a permanent base here in Dubai?

Sungwon’s office in Dubai will be used as a base for all of its new business in the Middle East and Africa. It will house not only development experts but also engineering and construction experts. However, a permanent presence for Sungwon in Dubai provides its potential clients with the sense of security that the company is committed to the region.

What prompted Sungwon Corporation to recently invest in Dubai’s Business Bay and Culture Village?

We believe that Business Bay will be the centre of Middle East business. It will soon have dozens of luxury office buildings where thousands of professionals from all over the world will work. With this in mind, the company chose to build a super-luxury residential tower in Business Bay to cater to those wishing to live close to work.

Culture Village also is an important development project for Sungwon because of its proximity to the historic Dubai Creek. The site is best suited as a residential and office complex as well because of its easy access to the train station scheduled to be built close by.

Culture Village is a unique project. For a healthy living environment, a combination of art, culture and entertainment is essential. And it offers a perfect platform for the best residential and office tower that we can offer.

What plans do you have to invest in future projects here?

We will continue to buy land and develop projects for future use, as well as carry out public infrastructure projects and work. We want to capitalise on the added benefits provided by a well planned project, so that wherever Sungwon goes, we will always build the best product in that area.

As Sungwon is a construction company, we are also interested in providing contracting services that contain a financial element – thereby acting as the developer’s partner. Finally, we are making preparations to invest in public works projects as well.

Will your Middle Eastern focus remain solely on Dubai, or does it encompass all of the UAE emirates and the wider GCC countries?

Sungwon has just started in Dubai and is already looking at projects in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon and Bahrain. In all of these countries, except for Dubai, the company is going to give priority to investing in public work on roads, railroads, sewage treatments, tunnels and bridges.||**||

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