ALBAWABA – The government of Russia has reportedly approached the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia in an effort to attract investment from Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, according to specialized Middle East observatory Al-Monitor.
Representatives of the government and companies attended the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) in the UAE this week, with Russian companies featuring a special pavilion to showcase investment opportunities.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have maintained a neutral stance towards Russia's war in Ukraine.
Sanctions imposed on Russia have intensified economic pressures on the current regime, Al-Monitor explained.
Foreign firms and companies are also leaving Russia, which is why the government and companies are on the hunt for Arab funds, the observatory added.
As Western sanctions build-up, Russia should look into other options to revamp its economy.
Such alternatives include the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Cooperation with countries in the MENA region is "one of Russia's foreign economic policy priorities", said minister of economic development Maksim Reshetnikov, in a speech to the forum.
"Now is the time to develop joint projects," he added, lauding countries in the region for their "independent foreign policy" 1and calling them "reliable partners for Russia".
To further boost trade, the minister called for the creation of a "financial and banking system independent" of the West which would help businesses evade the impact of sanctions.
Trade between Russia and Arab Gulf states increased by 40 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year, reaching $8.6 billion, Al Monitor reported.
Last year, trade between Russia and the UAE alone rose 68 percent to $9 billion, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is expected to have a significant impact over the medium term.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted a 7 percent decline in Russia’s economy below the pre-war forecasts.
"The Russian economy has demonstrated its resilience and its ability to grow under difficult circumstances," said Alexander Stuglev, chief executive officer of the Roscongress Foundation.
The foundation organises the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Despite the challenges posed by the war and the sanctions, "Russia is wide open" for business, he said.