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Kuwait 2019 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

The Korea Land & Housing Corporation is using smart technology to help Kuwait's new housing, public spaces, and a whole new smart city.

Hanjoo Lee
BIOGRAPHY
Hanjoo Lee has been the Director General of LH's Kuwait branch since 2017. He has worked at LH for 30 years and been involved in a wide range of urban development projects from planning and construction to operation and maintenance. He graduated from Seoul National University majoring in civil engineering and received his master’s degree in soil mechanics from Imperial College in the UK. He is an expert in civil engineering and material testing. He is one of LH’s specialists for smart technology including IT and GIS.

What have been the key factors that guaranteed LH's success to win the South Saad Al-Abdullah smart city project in Kuwait?

This project has two aspects, an opportunity and a challenge. I think LH and the Public Authority for Housing Welfare (PAHW) of Kuwait have the same goal and as partners we are ensuring we can reach this goal together. Both organizations are pursuing the public interest by developing a new town here along with enough land and affordable public housing. We are like-minded in terms of developing a new city. It makes it much easier that we are working together in the same direction to achieve our shared goals. LH stands here not for profit. In fact, we are owned by each government and run as a non-profit entity. In this regard, our purpose is to pursue the public interest through housing welfare and to improve the quality of peoples' lives and economic growth. Construction is a very large contributor to a national economy itself, and a new town has a lot of components to it including infrastructure, housing, industry, and investments in various sectors of the economy. Many economic sectors and players can participate in the development of a new town like this. If we develop a new town we can generate a lot of economic activities. We have developed many smart cities in Korea, but this project is the first global smart city that LH will develop outside Korea. This project will be an expanded version of our smart city concept in Korea and also, we are cooperating with PAHW to create this new model. In other words, it is a global smart city model that will be localized as well, rather than a typical Kuwaiti city with smart technology or a simply implemented Korean smart city in Kuwait. Therefore, this project is a good opportunity to come up with a new model for smart cities.

In what ways is LH sharing its knowledge with Kuwaiti companies regarding sustainable construction and sustainable housing projects?

We expect this project to be mutually beneficial from a knowledge transfer standpoint. We are going to learn from Kuwaitis and Kuwaitis can learn from us. In order to succeed in the SSAC project, the support of local companies will be indispensable. They will provide us with the local studies regarding procedures and legislation, since every official document is written in Arabic. LH will then bring all the necessary technology for this project. Kuwait's government carried out the new town project on their own finance. For this reason, we are interested in joint-investment for this project and establishing a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with the purpose of making a joint venture.

What is your level of confidence about Kuwait's business opportunities?

We are pretty confident regarding this project and we know that we have established a strong relationship with the Kuwaiti government through PAHW. The organization has been extremely helpful in helping us gain confidence within this new market. It's looking forward to this partnership and strongly believes in this project. We will ensure the delivery of a highly successful project that will benefit Kuwaiti society.