High-level government officials and senior business executives from both Russia and the GCC region will have an opportunity to assess first-hand the multitude of investment and joint venture opportunities generated by the projects at the inaugural Russia-GCC Business Forum that will be held at Expo Centre Sharjah from December 17 to 19, 2012.
The largest of the new projects to be unveiled recently was Mohammed Bin Rashid City, which consists of 100 hotels, the world’s biggest shopping mall and a Universal Studios theme park. Another mega project, a US$ 2.7 billion entertainment complex in Jebel Ali will feature five theme parks.
Other projects that have been announced in recent months include a US$1 billion replica of the Taj Mahal and a canal connecting the Dubai’s business district to the sea, while Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) has allocated billions of dollars to several large projects.
“These projects have once again brought global attention and investor interest on the UAE. They are high-profile, multi-billion dollar projects that will be a key contributor to the tourism facilities and infrastructure development and attempts to diversify the local economy. The plethora of contracts and investment opportunities these projects are going to offer is enormous and will surely be on the top of the agenda of the Russia-GCC Business Forum,” said Mr Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, Director-General, Expo Centre Sharjah.
The Arab world is the fifth-most popular destination for Russian real estate investments, and for Russians interested in Arab real estate, the UAE is the top pick, according to a report by Knight Frank’s Premium Real Estate Department in Russia and the CIS. According to official data, Russians bought around US$ 553 million worth of local real estate in 2011, and US$ 690 million in the first 10 months of 2012.
Peter Richards, Managing Director, Gulftainer Group, a Platinum sponsor of the Russia-GCC Business Forum, said, “Gulftainer began evaluating options to outline the Russian ports and logistics industry in 2010 and we look forward to putting forward our experience and knowledge of working in Russia and the success that the company has had there to date.”
Badr Jafar, Managing Director of the Crescent Group and President of Crescent Petroleum, another Platinum sponsor of the forum, said, “We have been active in developing ties with Russian companies over the past few years now, and plan to progress our mutually rewarding relationships even further in the coming years.”
On the other hand, Russia too is keen to attract investments from the Middle East. The market potential is huge and the investment environment has improved in recent years in Russia. Currently in 120th place of the 183 countries ranked for ease of doing business, Russia has already risen by four slots in this year’s ranking. According to the World Bank, Russia was among the 25 countries that made the most progress over the past year on changing the regulatory environment. The country is aiming to be in the top 20 by 2018.
Oil, gas and metals exports have enabled $1.9 trillion Russian economy to continue its spending spree while keeping its debt ratio the lowest of any G20 member at 10 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
BMW is the official car of the forum. “The forum is a clear indicator of Sharjah’s growing importance within the business community. With the forum acting as a key meeting point to progress important issues of cooperation between the GCC and Russia, AGMC feels extremely honoured to be appointed official car sponsor and to support Sharjah in its role as host,” said Paiman El Malla, Regional Manager – Sharjah & Northern Emirates, AGMC, the sole distributor of BMW in Dubai, Sharjah, and the Northern Emirates.
Business stalwarts who will attend the forum include Dr. Ahmed Saif Belhasa, Chairman of Belhasa Group; Mrs. Fatima Al Jaber, Chairperson of Emirates Businesswomen Council; Mr. Badr Jafar, President, Crescent Petroleum; Mr. Saleh Al Aroud, Chairman, Al Aroud Group; and Dr. Azza Ibrahim Almulla, Attorney, Almulla Lawyers & Legal Consultants, Mr. Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Shurooq; Mr. Khalid Jassim Al Midfa, Director of SCTDA; and Mr. Abdalla Nahayan, General Manager of Sharjah Medical Zone.
The participation from the Russian side includes Mr. Vladimir Evtushenkov, Chairman of JSFC “Systema”, Mr. Ruslan Edelgeriev, Premier Minister of Chechen Republic, Mr. Anatoly Valetov, Deputy Head of the Department for External Economic and International Relations of Moscow, Mr. Kolontai Alexander, Deputy Director of the State Unitary Enterprise “NIIP General Plan of Moscow”, Mr. Andrey Ivanovich, CJSC “Transline”, Ms. E. Anikina, Head of International Cooperation Department, Russian Olympic Committee, Mr. Dmitry Bazanov, Head of the Center of Technological Connections ‘MOEC’, and Mr. Dmitry Minz, Chairman of O1 Properties, among others.
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