A drone flew over Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the crown prince of the UAE who visited Samsung Electronics' semiconductor plant in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, on Feb. 26. The drone took a three-dimensional video of the entire plant. The video was delivered to the virtual reality (VR) device worn by the crown prince through 5G telecommunication equipment in real time. The crown prince let out an exclamation.
A demonstration of advanced technologies capped off a meeting between Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, and the crown prince at the semiconductor plant in Hwaseong. The rendezvous came about two weeks after their first meeting in Abu Dhabi of the UAE on Feb. 11. Samsung's 5G technology was probably what the crown prince and his entourage wanted to see most as they are keen to make the UAE a test bed for new technologies in order to take the lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Lee demonstrated Samsung's technological prowess by letting the crown price experience its new technologies.
Crown prince Mohamed expressed a big interest in semiconductors and network equipment that are emerging as a key element for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The UAE has been implementing the UAE Vision 2021 since 2010 to reduce its dependence on petroleum and prepare for the future. There are 23 specific strategies in six areas -- healthcare, security, service, manufacturing, future research and infrastructure. Therefore, the nation covets Samsung’s technological prowess as the tech giant has sharpened competitiveness in all areas of 5G including network equipment, handsets, and chipsets.
The crown prince reportedly asked vice chairman Lee some questions after a briefing by Samsung executives on the status of Samsung’s 5G telecommunication equipment and semiconductors and its future projects.
"The UAE is planning to commercialize 5G mobile services for the first time in the Middle East and Africa ahead of the Dubai Expo in 2020 while Abu Dhabi is building Masdar City as a smart city project by investing US$18 billion,” a Samsung official said. “I felt that the UAE is determined to grow high-tech industries."
The meeting is expected to cement cooperation between Samsung and countries in the Middle East. Cooperation between Samsung and the UAE has thus far been concentrated in construction and engineering. The Burj Khalifa project, a 162-story building in Dubai completed by Samsung C&T in 2009, is a good example. However, the crown prince’s visit is likely to pave the way for partnerships in future business areas such as 5G and AI.
Some industry observers say that Lee and the crown prince may have had a discussion on U.S. foundry company GlobalFoundries, which is reportedly put up for sale. This is because ATIC, the largest shareholder of GlobalFoundries with a 90 percent stake, is a state-owned company of the UAE. Samsung is seen as one of the candidates that can take over the foundry. They speculate that some business deals could be made between GlobalFoundries and Samsung.
Meanwhile, Lee will attend an official luncheon to be held after a summit meeting between President Moon Jae-in and Crown Prince Mohamed on Feb. 27.