Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan with Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin Palace during the former’s visit to Russia in 2017. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

The visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the UAE is a significant step toward the continuous strengthening of relations between the two nations, top Russian leaders, experts and scholars told Gulf News.

Putin’s visit on Tuesday is seen as a continuation of the high-level visits in recent years by leadership of both countries. His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, visited Russia several times in the past five years.

“We are very impressed with what the UAE leadership has achieved during the past 10 to 15 years when it comes to transparency of the UAE economy and professionalism of its institutions. They have proved their capability,” Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive officer of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia’s leading sovereign fund, noted during a select media interaction in Moscow.

With close economic links and growing trade ties between Russia and the UAE, Putin’s visit is likely to present a great opportunity for high-level discussions between the two countries

- Gulf News

With close economic links and growing trade ties between Russia and the UAE, Putin’s visit is likely to present a great opportunity for high-level discussions between the two countries. “UAE-Russian relations are stronger today than at any time in the past. The (Russian) president’s visit will further strengthen and expand bilateral cooperation in many fields at both regional and international levels,” Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on International Affairs, told Gulf News.

Growing tourism

Increasing tourism links between Russia and the UAE has been key towards enhancing people-to-people relations. In 2018 alone around 900,000 Russian tourists visited the UAE. “Overall, the Russians have a very high opinion of the UAE. This has to do with the evolution of the domestic policies in the country. These tolerant and friendly values reflect in the UAE’s foreign policy too,” Konstantin Truevstev, senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, observed in a candid media chat.

More on Putin's UAE visit

Over the years the relations between Russia and the UAE have grown by leaps and bounds. At the 32nd Moscow International Book Fair, held last month, Sharjah was given ‘Guest City’ status. The two countries are also exploring opportunities in the education sector with four to five top Russian universities planning to open their foreign campuses in the UAE.

“Russia already has solid research ties with the UAE. There are several regular visits and interactions between scholars, researchers and academics of both countries. We have world-class universities and educational institutions, and would like to see these ties to grow over time,” Truevstev said.

Space programme

Given the UAE’s dominant role as a growing space power in the Arab world, Russia is keen to offer its know-how to forward the country’s future space capabilities. Roscosmos (Russia’s state corporation responsible for space flights and cosmonautics programme) trained and prepared Emirati astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori for his successful space odyssey. “The astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori’s space trip is a major achievement for the country and the first step in space exploration and cooperation between Russia and the UAE,” Slutsky concluded.