Moscow: Coming nearly 12 years after his last state visit to the UAE, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s visit to Abu Dhabi on Tuesday is being hailed as a turning point in the relationship between the two countries.
“The president’s Abu Dhabi visit is important because Moscow fully understands the role of the UAE in the region. We have been looking forward to this trip for a long time,” Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on International Affairs, told Gulf News in Moscow.
Putin is scheduled to meet His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, during his visit.
“Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is one of the main leaders, not only in the Gulf region, but in the entire Arab world. He is playing a very positive role in the region. There is going to be some frank discussion between the two leaders in Abu Dhabi,” Slutsky noted.
Economic ties on upturn
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.
“Among other critical areas, Putin’s UAE visit will focus on investments in areas like technology. There shall also be a bigger emphasis on ties between Mubadala and Russian Direct Investment Fund,” said Slutsky, who is a key figure in the State Duma, Russia’s lower legislative house.
Heightened regional tensions
Putin’s visit comes amid heightened tensions across the region especially after attacks on vital Saudi energy infrastructure last month. The kingdom has since brought production back to normal levels, ahead of a planned initial public offering.
“Russia is quite positive and pleased about the UAE’s peace efforts in the region and its initiatives to find solutions to complex issues in Middle East. Issues like Syria are among the areas that will come up for discussions between Putin and Mohammed Bin Zayed,” the Russian leader confirmed.