Partnership between investment funds supported and cultivated Russian economy during oil slump, official says

Strategic tie-up set for expansion during Vladimir Putin's visit to UAE

Powered by automated translation

A strategic partnership between UAE and Russian investment funds supported and cultivated the Russian economy during the oil price slump, the head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund said.

Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, said the UAE made shrewd choices five years ago and were now reaping the financial benefits.

Speaking to a media delegation from the UAE before Russian president Vladimir Putin’s visit to the country, he said Russia had learned a lot from the partnership.

Mubadala invested at a critical time for the Russian economy but they got very good returns

“Mubadala invested at a critical time for the Russian economy but they got very good returns,” said Mr Dmitriev. “We are very happy with our partnership.”

The investment is part of a strategic relationship between the funds of both countries.

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala and the RDIF teamed up in 2013 to create a $7 billion (Dh25bn) fund with $2bn already invested. Both are now committed to 45 projects across Russia in projects such as healthcare, technology, oil, artificial intelligence, Mixed Martial Arts, airports, video streaming and online delivery platforms.

Expanding the fund will take centre stage during the visit of Mr Putin on Tuesday. During the trip, at least 15 deals in energy, nuclear power and the environment are expected to be signed.

If there is one area that underlines the  strength of the UAE and Russia's economic co-operation it is UFC's Mixed Martial Arts. The sport is hugely popular in Russia and Abu Dhabi's staging of a UFC fight in September attracted thousands of people.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - September 07, 2019: Middleweight bout between Omari Akhmedov (red shorts, Winner) and Zak Cummings in the Early Prelims at UFC 242. Saturday the 7th of September 2019. Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
The UAE and Russia are teaming up to invest in mixed martial arts. The Abu Dhabi fight, above, in September was a huge success. Chris Whiteoak / The National

So it was no surprise that the UAE and Russia in 2018 established a Dh3.67bn fund to boost UFC in Russia and former Soviet states through promoting merchandise, enhancing media rights and increasing sponsorship.

Tourism is also crucial. About a million Russians visit the UAE every year, buoyed by the introduction of visa-free travel earlier this year. And this is where MMA might also come in.

The September fight in Abu Dhabi between Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov and American Dustin Poirier did not go unnoticed in Moscow. “The event was a huge hit with Khabib’s Russian fans,” Mr Dmitriev said.

He also hinted at opportunities for the UAE in Russia’s billion-dollar national infrastructure project that will see new roads, bridges and other major improvements made over the next few years.

“There are big national projects coming up and there could be good opportunities for UAE investors here," he said.

Mr Dmitriev said that the world could not discount another global recession and it is countries who are diversifying, such as the UAE, that will benefit the most.

“There is now very close co-operation between the two countries,” Mr Dmitriev said.

“Russia wants to be a good partner for the UAE.”