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Russian-Qatari relations

THE RUSSIAN-QATARI RELATIONS
(brief summary as of July 2, 2014)

The Diplomatic relations between the USSR and the State of Qatar were established on August 1, 1988. The respective embassies in Doha and Moscow were opened in November, 1989. On December 6, 1991 the State of Qatar officially recognized the Russian Federation and other CIS countries.

The President of the Russian Federation H.E.Mr.Vladimir Putin paid a working visit to Doha in February, 2007. In November 2010 the Father Emir H.E.Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani (then acting head of the State of Qatar) went to Moscow.

The economic relations between the two countries have been developing mainly through the cooperation in the energy sphere and within the framework of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum. In November 2011 H.E.Mr.Sergey Shmatko, the Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation, took part in the first GECF Summit in Doha. During his talks with the Qatari side the prospects of the Qatari participation in the Yamal-LNG project and purchasing of the Novatec company shares were discussed.

The visit of H.E.Mr.Viktor Zubkov, the Special Representative of the Russian President for cooperation with the GECF and former Prime Minister, to Doha on February 10, 2013 was a an important milestone in the bilateral economic relations. During his visit Mr.Zubkov held negotiations with H.E.Mr.Mohammad Al Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry of the State of Qatar, and took part in the opening ceremony of the first regional (Arabian peninsula) office of Gazprom company in Qatar.

In March 2013 the Qatar sovereign fund (the Qatar Investment Authority - QIA) finalized formalities on the purchase of the shares of the Russian VTB bank for 500 million USD. In the meantime the QIA CEO Mr. Ahmed Mohammad Al Sayed was appointed as a member to the Russian Direct Investment Fund International Advisory Body.

In April 2013 Doha saw the meeting between the Vice Governor of Saint-Petersburg H.E.Mr.Oleg Markov and the Head of the Doha Municipality Eng. Mohammad Al Sayed. There was also a visit of the delegation from the Republic of Tatarstan headed by the CEO of the Tatarstan Investment Development Agency Mr. Linar Yakupov talks at this time.

The landmark event aimed at the enhancing of the bilateral and full-format political dialogue between the two countries was the Russian-Qatari political consultations at the level of deputy foreign ministers (H.E.Mr.Mikhail Bogdanov and H.E.Mr.Ali Al-Hajri) that was launched in Moscow, October 30, 2013. The second round of this strategic dialogue between Mr.Bogdanov and H.E.Mr.Mohammad Al Rumaihi was held in Doha on May 5, 2014.

On February 5, 2014 the Olympic City of Sochi saw the working meeting between President Vladimir Putin and His Highness Emir Sheikh Tamim, Emir of the State of Qatar. And the excellent reception by the Qatari side that enjoyed the Russian parliamentary delegation headed by the Special Representative of the Russian President for cooperation with Africa, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Council of Federation of Russia H.E. Mr.Mikhail Margelov ( February 7-10, 2014) was the continuation of this positive trend.

The mutual work on the launch of the Russian-Qatari intergovernmental commission for trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation is now in progress.

The legal base of the cooperation between the two countries is represented by the following inter-governmental agreements: on Economic, Trade and Technical Cooperation (1990); on Direct Air Communication (1988); on Military Cooperation (1999); on Avoidance of Double Taxation (1998); on Mutual Protection and Support of Investments (2007 which has not been ratified by the Russian side); and the following inter-institutional agreements: on Cooperation in the Sphere of Physical Education and Sport (1997); on Collaboration in the Youth Affairs (1997); on Collaboration between Chambers of Commerce and Industry (2001); on Exchange of Information between the ITAR-TASS and the QNA (1999); on Establishment of the Russian-Qatari Business Council (2007); on Establishment of the Mutual Commission on Cooperation in the sphere of oil and gas (2010); on Establishment of the Intergovernmental Commission for trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation (2010) and the Memorandum of Understanding in the filed of Cooperation between the Public Prosecutions Offices of the two countries (2010).

According to various estimates the Russian Community in the State of Qatar is 2500 people, the majority of them work on private contracts in different spheres: physicians, engineers, sport coaches, pilots, musicians of the Qatari Philharmonic Orchestra and etc. In April 2014 the Coordinate Council of the Russian Compatriots of the State of Qatar (which number in Qatar now averages 7000 people) under the auspices of the Russian Embassy was launched in order to consolidate and develop the social and cultural life of the Russian Compatriots in the State of Qatar. The First Qatari Conference of the Compatriots is scheduled for October 2014.

The State of Qatar is consistently increasing the Russian segment of its air traffic. Starting from September 2014 the number of the Qatar Airways flights from Doha to Moscow will be 14 per week. It will make possible to increase the number of the Russian transit tourists traveling via Doha to 200-250 thousand per year. The opening of Doha St. Petersburg direct flights is also anticipated in the nearest future.