Putin Sheikh Mohamed 2019
Sheikh Mohamed welcoming Russian President Vladimir Putin in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi:  His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin at the royal airport. Sheikh Mohammed will be holding talks with Putin in the capital.

The two leaders will be discussing bilateral ties and regional and international developments. Ahead of his landmark visit, Putin hailed the UAE as a very “close and promising partner”.

“Of all the Gulf countries, we [Russia and UAE] have the highest level of trade, $1.7 billion, but of course, this is not enough, we are well aware of that, so currently, we are working with the UAE’s sovereign fund [Mubadala and Russian Direct Investment Fund],” said Putin in an interview with Al Arabiya TV.

Putin arrived, 12 years after his last state visit to the UAE, from his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia with a delegation of ministers, trade representatives and officials.

The visit coincides with UAE-Russia week, featuring performances of Russian ballet, folk music and dancing in the gilded atrium of the Emirates Palace hotel.

Economic ties between the two countries is already on the upturn. As per official figures, trade between the UAE and Russia touched Dh 12.5 billion last year. More than 3,000 Russian companies are currently registered in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other emirates.

Earlier this year Russia took the initiative of opening its first Centre for Digital Innovators, Information and Communication Technologies in Dubai’s Internet City, marking its first official foray into the region’s technology sector.

Putin’s visit comes amid heightened tensions across the region especially after attacks on vital Saudi energy infrastructure last month and Turkey’s ongoing attacks on northern Syria.

Putin’s visit also coincides with the homecoming of Hazza Al Mansouri, a national hero who made history by becoming the first Emirati to travel to the International Space Station supported by the Russian space industry.