Korea exports hospitals to Saudi Arabia

Health and Welfare Minister Chin Young, right, shakes hands with Abdullah Al Rabeeah, health minister of Saudi Arabia, after signing an agreement on the Medical System Twinning Project at COEX, Seoul, Tuesday.

Major Korean hospitals will transfer their medical systems to Saudi Arabian counterparts under a project called “twinning.”

The Medical System Twinning Project is one of six agreements which Korea’s Health Minister Chin Young and his Saudi Arabian partner Abdullah Al Rabeeah signed Tuesday in Seoul, as part of the country’s international medical tourism conference.

Both sides also agreed to cooperate in designing and establishing hospitals in the Middle Eastern country and launch educational exchange programs for medical experts.

“In terms of the Twinning Project, we agreed to establish medical facilities in King Fahad Medical City (KFMC) to share Korean medical technologies,” said the Ministry of Health and Welfare in a statement.

KFMC is a state-run hospital based in Riyadh which Korea’s Hyundai Engineering and Construction constructed in 1993. The ministry said that it is a big turning point for Korea which accepted a similar aid program from the United States half a century ago.

“We can now return advanced medical technologies to the international community by developing them after learning through the Minnesota Project,” said the ministry in a statement.

The Minnesota Project was an aid program granted to Korea by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). A total of 226 Korean medical experts benefited from training programs held in the U.S. for seven years from 1955 to 1961 with the help of the agency.