President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov was in Dubai at the beginning of May to participate in the city’s Annual Investment Meeting, a three-day conference designed to promote bilateral trade and foreign direct investment.
During the conference, Deputy Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and President Minnikhanov cut a red ribbon, signaling the beginning of a new working relationship between the two governments.
Residency in the Alabuga Special Economic Zone, big business in Tatarstan, and other investment opportunities were showcased during the conference, including Tatarstan goods that are available for export.
While in Dubai, Minnikhanov met with UAE Minister of Foreign Trade Sheikh Lubna bid Khalid Al Qasimi. In the meeting, Minnikhanov made it clear that the republic is interested in doing more business with the UAE and other Arab countries.
The Tatarstan President also met with Ahmed Salim al Koshli, Minister of Economic Affairs of Libya’s transitional government. Both sides expressed interest in resuming business relations, which were cut off during the civil war. Before the war, Tatneft was doing 5.4 billion rubles of business in Libya exploring the country’s oil reserves.
In an interview with TV outlet Russia Today, Minnikhanov declared that Tatarstan is interested in attracting more investment from the Middle East. “We have been working in this direction for about two to three years, and I hope that there will be positive results soon,” Minnikhanov said. “Traditionally, we have worked mainly with Europe, but haven’t worked enough with the Arab world and southeast Asia…Our republic is Muslim, and we need to use this factor.”
According to Minnikhaov, Tatarstan is interested in having Tecom Investments help with the integrated development of Smart City, an initiative to build a world-class conference and business center near Kazan International Airport. The company is currently involved in implementing similar projects in Malta and India.
In Dubai, Tatarstan also discussed the possibility of cooperating with Kele Contracting in construction and construction management of major sports facilities, as the company has experience working on Olympic facilities in Sydney.
Minnikhanov’s participation in the AIM conference in Dubai is the latest in a string of recent signs that point to Tatarstan’s commitment to actively seeking out foreign direct investment (FDI).
In 2011, Minnikhanov created the Tatarstan Investment Development Agency (TIDA), a body designed specifically to both encourage the growth of Small and Medium business and increase the level of FDI in the republic. TIDA’s Chief Executive is Linar Yakupov, one of the founders of Kazan Summit, an international Islamic banking and finance conference that was first held in 2009.
Since his agency was created, Yakupov has been aggressively pursuing foreign investment. In March, the agency used its first-ever collegium as an opportunity to host Kazan Invest, an international investment forum billed as a precursor to Kazan Summit, which will be held in May 2012.
Co-hosted by the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA), Kazan Invest was a day packed full with discussion of how to increase FDI in Russia and Tatarstan. During the forum, TIDA had a Dubai-based architect present a proposal for Smart City, the same exhibition and business center that Minnikhanov wants Tecom Investments to help develop. Overseen by TIDA, Smart City is being developed to make Kazan an even more attractive destination for foreign businessmen.
Since Kazan Invest, Yakupov and his team have logged thousands of frequent flier miles traveling to international FDI and business forums, spreading the word that Tatarstan is ready to do business.
In March, Yakupov visited Malyasia and Indonesia to promote Tatarstan’s investment potential.
In April, he visited Luxembourg and the World Investment Forum in Doha, Qatar. “Republic of Tatarstan is the only region of Russian Federation represented at World Investment Forum in Doha, Qatar,” Yakupov tweeted on his English-language Twitter account, @LinarYakup. At the end of the month, he was in Europe, attending an industrial park seminar in Metz, France. That same month, TIDA First Deputy Robert Galiullin was in Latvia as part of a delegation.
And of course, Yakupov and his team were in Dubai with President Minnikhanov at the AIM conference, where they met with the directors of Masdar City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, and the Mubadala Investment Company, according to TIDA’s website.
This promotional work was officially branded “Invest in Tatarstan” and launched as a global campaign during the AIM summit in Dubai. The campaign has also recently started working through its new Twitter account, @InvestTatarstan.
“Invest in Tatarstan” is a global campaign, but as Minnikhanov’s visit to Dubai indicates, one of its strategic focuses is deepening links within the Islamic world.
This year’s IV Annual Kazan Summit, now hosted by TIDA, will focus on economic cooperation between Russia and the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), which has more 57 member countries.
“Russia has a dialogue with the European Union, Russia has a dialogue with the United States, and we similarly want Russia to have a dialogue with the OIC,” Linar Yakpuov explained in an interview with The Kazan Herald. Yakupov is confident that there is tremendous, untapped economic potential in such a dialogue.
To be held on 18 and 19 May in Kazan “under the patronage” of President Minnikhanov, Kazan Summit will feature a strategic forum, a trade and investment forum, a conference on Islamic economics and finance, bilateral meetings, and roundtables on the role of Islamic finance in the world financial system, dialogue of civilizations, and the role of the press in foreign investment.
Over the past few months, TIDA has gathered a database of more than 79 different investment projects put forward by Tatarstan entrepreneurs. This database of business plans which will be available for Kazan Summit participants to peruse and follow up on during the summit.