Abu Dhabi to Ulaanbaatar...

January 10, 2014

Well, it was 80 degrees Farenheit when I left the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi and -37 degrees Farenheit when I arrived in Ulaanbaatar after a short layover at the Seoul airport. I had just seen the world's tallest building in Dubai (the Burj Khalifa) and was now in Mongolia's largest city where half the population live in portable round tents called gers.

 

Ironically, I skied in Dubai (yes, as evidenced below, it was indoors) but not in Mongolia....

 

 

With only three million residents, Mongolia is the world's most sparsely populated country after Greenland. Landlocked and bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, half of Mongolia's population live here in the capital city. 

 

The spirit of the local legend Genghis Khan is everywhere. This adventurous and marauding 13th century emperor founded the Mongol Empire, which became the largest such land assemblage in the world.

 

 

Now Mongolia is dominated by the mining industry, which benefits from our leasing company here. One of the world's largest copper and gold mines and the biggest financial project in Mongolia's history is Oyu Tolgoi, or Turqouise Hill. It is operated by mining giant Rio Tinto, which owns the mine together with the government of Mongolia.

 

To transport such minerals and others like coal and iron ore, we are adding capacity to the country's rail system. SP Mongolia Logistics buys and then leases locomotives (General Electric) and wagons (from Chinese manufacturers) to miners to transport their ore on the government owned rail line down to the Chinese border for use in that country's massive

economy.

 

 

I met with President Elbegdorj in his office in the massive Government Palace on Chinggis Khaan Square in the center of Ulaanbaatar. We had met earlier in Washington DC at the US Chamber of Commerce and later at the Embassy of Mongolia and bonded as fellow graduates of the Harvard Kennedy School. He still wears and proudly displays his class ring (see photo below)...

 

 

 

Leaving soon for South Korea, Japan and then home to Washington DC to finish this around-the-world trip. One of our investment advisors here in Ulaanbaatar tried to take me to an interesting project in.... North Korea. I declined this offer but will return to Mongolia and then down to China in a few months....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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