Qatar and Russia recently celebrated the successful staging of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), where the LNG-rich Gulf state was ‘guest country’. In this two-part Q&A, Qatari-Russian Centre for Cooperation (QRCC) CEO Diana Charmadova discusses with Gulf Times some of the highlights of Qatar and Russia’s economic, trade, and cultural ties.
Qatar and Russia have enjoyed robust bilateral relations over the past few decades. How does the QRCC further support this relationship?
Charmadova: Bilateral relations between the State of Qatar and the Russian Federation began after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1988, covering political, economic, trade, cultural, humanitarian, and other fields. Early economic relations between the two countries developed mainly through co-operation in the energy sphere and within the framework of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum. However, the two countries have explored other areas of mutual co-operation in trade and investment. Over the course of the past seven years, the volume of trade exchange between Qatar and Russia has seen 200% increase in varied sectors and industries, such as finance, agriculture, aviation, tourism, research and development, and more.
In order to further promote multi-faceted and cross-sectoral bilateral relations, the QRCC works to sustainably grow the bilateral landscape between the two nations. The group aims to develop mutual opportunities and initiatives that maintain an economy-driven dialogue while improving existing and new relationships between both nations.
As part of QRCC, there are six key entities that work across various industries to explore and enhance opportunities for collaboration between the two countries. These are Qatar-Russia Investment & Trade Advisory (QRITA), Office of Knowledge and Innovation (OKI), Cultural Creative Agency (CCA), QR Experience, QR Sports, and QR Media.
The Qatar-Russia Investment & Trade Advisory is the QRCC’s business advisory arm. It supports and facilitates the proactive development of concrete deals and connections between the markets of Qatar and Russia, as well as the broader regions. The OKI ideates and facilitates collaborations between Qatar and Russia in the fields of education, science, innovation, technology, and social issues, while the CCA brings together an intellectual approach and aesthetic vision in order to build new ways of representation for the culture and heritage of Qatar and Russia.
QR Experience is a boutique travel and concierge agency focused on inbound and outbound travel between Qatar and Russia. We create and execute unique experiences, luxury tours, and excursions, both for leisure and business tourists. QR Sports is a sports marketing agency offering consulting and event services for sports entities, businesses, and athletes.
Finally, QR Media is an independent digital media platform that tells stories and shares values with a wide and diverse audience across the globe who speak Arabic, English, and Russian, aiming to bring two unique cultures closer together for future collaborations and deeper understanding through information and awareness.

During the SPIEF, various Qatari and Russian entities signed deals and MoUs in different economic and investment sectors. What were some of the key agreements to come out of the event?
Ever since the start of diplomatic, economic, and trade relations between Qatar and Russia, the two countries have signed several inter-governmental agreements on economic, trade, and technical co-operation in 1990; avoidance of double taxation (1998); co-operation in the sphere of physical education and sport (1997); collaboration in the youth affairs (1997); collaboration between chambers of commerce and industry (2001); on exchange of information between the ITAR-TASS and the QNA (1999); establishment of the Mutual Commission on Cooperation in the sphere of oil and gas (2010); and establishment of the Intergovernmental Commission for trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation (2010), which organised the first Qatari-Russian Joint Committee in 2015 to discuss bilateral co-operation. Furthermore, in December 2019, an agreement between the Russian Federation and Qatar on the mutual waiver of visa requirements was signed, allowing further travel opportunities, and eventually mutual business opportunities.
Qatar’s participation at the 24th edition of SPIEF as guest country was led by Qatar’s embassy to the Russian Federation and Sheikh Ahmed bin Nasser bin Jassim al-Thani, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Qatar.
As QRCC, we were incredibly fortunate to be given the opportunity to realise this mandate and to support the Qatari participation at SPIEF.
To shed some more light on the scope of the participation, the delegation comprised of 50 leading public and private sector entities from Qatar. A number of Qatari entities signed several MoUs and deals with leading Russian entities, over 60, in some of the most important sectors of business, investment and trade, sports, tourism, education, and more.
For example, QNB signed a deal with Russia’s VTB Bank to create joint funds to invest in the Qatari and Russian equity markets. Another deal was signed between Meeza and BI.ZONE to provide managed cybersecurity solutions.
The forum represents a new era of bilateral co-operation between the two countries and QRCC is proud to have facilitated it.

What is the extent of Russian investments in Qatar? What are some prominent Russian-owned companies operating in Qatar?
Currently, there are over 50 jointly owned Qatari-Russian companies based in Qatar. In addition to the jointly owned companies, there are also Russian-owned entities that have offices in Qatar.
An R&D facility called Rosneft International Centre for Research and Development (RICRD) is a part of the Qatar Science and Technology Park. RICRD is a subsidiary of Rosneft Oil Company, the leader of Russia’s petroleum industry, and the largest publicly traded petroleum company in the world. It is a full-scale representative office of Rosneft, performing scientific, technical, engineering, and educational activities. It also functions to promote various areas of the company’s business in the region.
In addition, a Gazprom representative office was inaugurated in Qatar in 2013 with the primary objective of developing long-term mutually beneficial economic co-operation of Gazprom, Qatar, and the wider region as well, co-ordination of the efforts by Gazprom's companies in the regional energy markets and co-operation with the GECF.
The main objective of Qatar’s participation as guest country in SPIEF was to spur more such dialogues and opportunities among various cross-sectoral entities in Qatar and their channel partners and peers in Russia.

To what extent has the trade increased between Qatar and Russia? What are some key goods and services that make up import and export between the two countries?
Qatar is currently one of the largest foreign investors in Russia’s economy from the GCC region and, as aforementioned, there are over 50 jointly-owned Qatari-Russian companies operating in Qatar. In 2020, trade between Qatar and Russia reached $296mn compared to $201.16mn in 2019 after an increasing upward trend for decades. Of the items of import, agricultural products, such as wheat and barley take the top spot, while Qatar’s export to Russia primarily consists of hydrocarbons and construction materials such as refined petroleum and ethylene polymers.
As QRCC, we are always looking for new opportunities to enhance bilateral co-operation and collaboration between the countries. QRITA supports and facilitates proactive development of concrete deals and connections between the markets of Qatar and Russia, as well as the broader regions.
As a result of their efforts, over 60 MoUs and agreements were signed in the areas of energy, petrochemical production, retail, and the stock market and real estate at SPIEF and held over 320 B2B meetings during which Qatari entities and their Russian counterparts discussed collaboration and exchanged expertise.
Some of the MoUs signed between Qatari and Russian entities include one between Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and the Russian Small and Medium Business Corporation, an MoU between the Qatari Businessmen Association and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, and an MoU between Hassad Food Company and Demetra Holdings and more.