Abu Dhabi: Russia is planning to create a health care industry cluster as well as a food cluster in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad) as part of an agreement reached with Abu Dhabi Ports last month, Dr Igor Egorov, the founder and honorary chairman of Russian Business Council in the UAE, told Gulf News.

Egorov said discussions were in the initial stages, but there was a lot of interest from the Russian side to invest in the UAE and expand Moscow’s business relationship with the country, as well as with the wider Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.

“We want to position UAE as a hub for distribution of food and medical equipment across the Mena region. The Russian Trade and Economic Development Council (RTEDC) has reached an agreement with Kizad in this regard and we expect many Russian firms to set up their business to give a boost to trade and investment.”

He said business ties between Russia and the Mena region have seen robust growth, with trade touching $42 billion (Dh154 billion) in 2017 alone.

“There was a 32 per cent growth in trade between Mena region and Russia in 2017 with Turkey, Egypt, Algeria and the UAE being some of the top countries in the list. We see this figure going up as Russia seeks to strengthen bilateral trade with various countries in the region.”

Russia has been exporting food products especially wheat to the UAE as well as to other countries in the Middle East.

It also exports precious stones, metals, chemicals and machinery equipment.

Bilateral trade between the UAE and Russia reached $1.6 billion in 2017, he said.

There have also been sizeable investments from the UAE side into Russia.

Large companies such as Mubadala Investment are allocating resources into different sectors through the Russian Direct Investment Fund and DP World has created DP World Russia to develop ports in the far east of the country.

“There is an increased investment from the UAE into Russia especially in energy, transportation and logistics sector. UAE investments exceed $20 billion.”

Opportunities in Russia

He also said UAE companies should look into investing in the real estate sector, agriculture and pharma sector as there are plenty of opportunities.

“With oil prices going up, there are a lot of opportunities in Russia. We had modest economic growth last year, our bank system is stable, inflation is at historical lows and the rouble has stabilised,” he said.

Russia is one of the top exporters of oil in the world.