ABU DHABI - H2O Hospitality (H2O), a South Korean digital innovation company in the accommodation and leisure industry, has established its regional headquarters in Abu Dhabi in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO).

The move highlights the deepening economic cooperation between South Korea and Abu Dhabi which has become increasingly focused on synergies related to innovation and technology.

In the last 10 years, South Korea has been ranked as the most innovative nation 6 times by the Bloomberg Innovation Index. Abu Dhabi was also named the smartest city in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region for the year 2023 in the IMD Smart City Index released by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD).

ADIO provided H2O with a comprehensive range of growth-enabling support, including financial incentives, setup enablement and connections to the Abu Dhabi ecosystem and international trade opportunities.

Badr Al-Olama, Director General of ADIO, said, "Both Abu Dhabi and South Korea are globally known for their approach to innovation, sharing similar visions for digital transformation, and are natural partners to navigate the tech-enabled future. At the same time, Abu Dhabi has become renowned for its diverse investment climate, enabling ecosystem and global status as a hub for digitilisation, making it the perfect choice for innovative companies like H2O Hospitality to realise their growth ambitions.”

H2O’s new headquarters in Abu Dhabi’s Global Market (ADGM) will advance the next phase of its international growth out of Abu Dhabi, as it seeks to emulate its success in Asia and capture opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) hospitality market. The regional tourism market is expected to continue growing with passenger volumes fully recovering in 2024, reaching a projected 400 million travelers.

For the UAE alone, and during the first quarter of 2023, hotels generated revenues surpassing AED 12.2 billion, and over 7.2 million guests visited the country. Hotel room rates are also expected to rise by 7.1% in Abu Dhabi in 2024.

H2O’s solutions will also contribute to Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector. The company is connected to 85+ online travel agencies, in addition to managing over 190k+units and 680+ properties. It provides solutions which automate the front and back-end processes of hotels by digitising the process flow, enabling paperless and contactless procedures that improve efficiency and profitability for operators.

Additionally, H2O’s solutions in Abu Dhabi will enhance guest experience including mobile based booking, check-in, smart locks, in-room services and payments.

John Lee, Founder & CEO of H2O, said, “Digital transformation has become an even more pressing matter for the hospitality industry. H2O will make maximum use of its technologies and know-how for Abu Dhabi customers seeking to be on the cutting edge of the era’s trends. We plan to make every effort to support Abu Dhabi to develop the tourism sector through our full-fledged business expansion in Abu Dhabi with the support from ADIO.”

Salem Mohammed Al Darei, CEO of ADGM Authority, said, “We congratulate H2O Hospitality for choosing ADGM, the International Financial Centre of the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, as their regional headquarters and gateway to the EMEA region. The establishment of H2O in ADGM reflects the appeal and value proposition of this financial centre, making it a preferred destination for global entities in various innovative sectors. This also highlights the strategic collaboration between ADGM and ADIO in establishing a robust platform that fosters investments and innovation, aligning with Abu Dhabi’s vision for growth and economic diversification.”

ADIO opened an office in Seoul in 2021 to develop new relationships with South Korean companies.