Libmonster ID: UK-1251
Author(s) of the publication: L. V. SHKVARYA


Doctor of Economics

KeywordsGCCareas of application of Arab capitalRussian-Arab investments

Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Gulf States, primarily the six oil - producing monarchies-Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates-have entered the world arena as important actors.

These countries-members of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf (GCC, established in 1981) - have accumulated significant financial resources and are currently looking for opportunities to invest them profitably, especially due to the need to overcome the consequences of the global financial crisis.

They are also interested in attracting foreign capital to diversify and modernize the national economy. Moreover, in the context of the global financial and, in recent months, the political crisis in a number of Arab countries, foreign investment for this group of States can act as a stabilizing factor, and the need for it is increasing.

The specifics of the formation, attraction and export of capital of this group of states were discussed in previous articles*.

The proposed publication analyzes the main problems and prospects, as well as the directions and forms of Russian-Arab investment cooperation. The external transnationalization of Russian companies and their expansion into the Persian Gulf region in the sphere of foreign direct investment and partly in the sphere of financial activity are the least studied in the Russian economic literature, as well as in the works of foreign experts on Russia.


The Russian Federation seeks to diversify its foreign economic relations, including in the field of investment. Throughout the 1990s and especially the 2000s, Russia actively participated in the processes of international capital migration, forming mechanisms and developing directions for international investment cooperation. Our country has an interest in its development with the states of the Persian Gulf, which is based on objective prerequisites and factors.

1. Growth of investment activity in the Russian Federation and the Persian Gulf countries. We identify multidirectional factors (internal and external, including global ones) that both contributed to the growth of Russian investment activity in the 2000s and slowed it down (see Table 1).

2. Common socio-economic and other tasks, especially in the post-crisis period. Economic, technological and innovative development, financing and regulation of the economy and social sphere, efficient use of available factors of production should be highlighted among the most important areas.

Reducing the dependence of the national economy on the export of hydrocarbons is of particular importance for both sides. In this regard, it is very useful, for example, to study the experience of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which carry out structural transformation of national economies with a focus on non-oil sectors, while ensuring high rates of economic growth.

3. Similarity of international specialization. Global mutual interests are determined by the presence of large reserves, production and export of energy resources in the GCC countries, which also includes Russia as one of the largest exporters. Both sides are interested in developing and implementing the latest technologies, investing financial resources in the oil and gas and other related segments of the national economies, as well as the corresponding infrastructure. Russia has some technological advantages in the field of oil exploration, production, and transportation. Its equipment can be operated at extreme temperatures. All this together can be considered as a prerequisite for expanding mutually beneficial cooperation.

4. Political will of country leaders. The need for economic cooperation, including in the field of investment, has been repeatedly stressed at the highest political level by both the Arab and Russian sides. Thus, Vladimir Putin, as President of the Russian Federation, noted that the development of relations with Arab countries is a significant vector of Russia's foreign policy, and repeatedly stressed the importance of strengthening direct contacts between the business communities of Russia and Arab countries. 1 According to the Foreign Minister

* See: Asia and Africa today. 2010, N 7; 2011, N 2.

page 18

Table 1

Factors of Russian investment activity in 2000-2008

Factors contributing to the inflow of foreign capital

Factors constraining the inflow of foreign capital


Stable growth of the Russian economy, stable socio-economic situation and growing investment attractiveness ratings

Relative decline in the dynamics of key macroeconomic indicators

Growth in output of products and services of basic branches of the national economy and industrial production

Weak attractiveness and "non-transparency" of innovative and investment projects for the development of real sector sectors for foreign investors

Creating a competitive environment in the domestic financial and stock market

Instability and underdevelopment of the Russian stock market

Lower inflation rates and, as a result, lower interest rates of refinancing of the Central Bank of Russia

Small amounts of public investment

Strengthening the Russian banking system

Low competitiveness of foreign direct investment (FDI) relative to alternative asset allocation

Improving the financial situation of enterprises

Excessive administrative barriers to business activities

Measures taken by the Russian Government to improve the investment climate

High investment risks for foreign investors, lack of state guarantees to protect investors ' rights

Improving Russia's investment attractiveness ratings

Large volumes of Russian investments exported abroad


Maintaining relatively high global prices for energy resources and non-ferrous metals

High dependence of the economy, public finances and balance of payments on the external economic environment

"The course of developing comprehensive relations with Arab states remains one of the strategic vectors of Russia's foreign policy. An important element of this line is the diplomatic support of projects of our economic cooperation, the potential of which is very great. " 2

5. Russia also looks attractive to Arab investors due to its inherent characteristics - the leading role of the state in investment processes, industry preferences, the nature of capital, etc3

From the above-mentioned features, the main difficulty of attracting capital from Arab countries follows - the decisive influence of the state on all areas of business, including foreign investment. Therefore, to attract these investments (especially when it comes to large-scale investments), certain political agreements are required. Russia's interest in the Persian Gulf countries is determined by their significant financial base, and the prospect of attracting their capital to the Russian economy can be real and large-scale.

That is why mutual investment cooperation is gradually developing, despite the existing problems.


The principal difference between the current stage of investment cooperation is that the initiative to activate and implement it in Russia has shifted from state structures to private entrepreneurship. The role of the state is to create an infrastructure - including contractual, legal and institutional-for the development of investment activities.

Russian investors are traditionally large companies (private and/or mixed). They are committed to direct investment in what Russia sees as priority industries (and they are close to Arab investors in this tactic).

The Russian Federation can offer its Arab partners the following areas of investment and financial cooperation::

- desalination technologies;

- reclamation, irrigation and development of desert lands;

- energy industry;

- production and innovation activities;

- transport and communications (infrastructure).

Thus, as a rule, either the raw material segments of the host economies are recognized as priorities in the Arab direction - from geological exploration to raw material processing (since these areas are also developed in Russia-

page 19

Table 2

Main ways for Russian investors to enter the GCC market



Participation of Russian companies in tenders

In 2008, Russian Railways took part in tenders for the construction of railways in Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Iran and Bahrain.

Intergovernmental cooperation

- Contracts for the launch of Arab satellites by Russia (UAE, Saudi Arabia);
- Cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia 6 and Kuwait 7 in the field of peaceful nuclear energy is expected in all major areas of peaceful nuclear energy, including nuclear medicine.

Cooperation with third parties

- The Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) (established in 2009) has a budget of just over $6 million for 2010.8;
- It provides for the implementation of a trilateral Russian-Qatari-Iranian project in the field of production, transportation and processing of natural gas from the South Pars field.

Creating a joint venture

- In March 2004, Lukoil signed a 40-year concession agreement with Saudi Arabia for the exploration and development of a gas and gas condensate field in the Rub al-Khali desert area covering an area of approximately 30,000 square kilometers (estimated liabilities of $4 billion). To implement the project, a joint venture LUXAR was established, in which Lukoil and Saudi Aramco own 80% and 20% of the authorized capital, respectively;
- Rosneft, together with Crescent Petroleum Company International Ltd (UAE), began work on the development of a promising site in Sharjah 9 in June 2010.
- The largest joint project is a metallurgical plant located in Hamriyeh (Sharjah), which is estimated at $150 million. After reaching its full capacity, the plant will produce up to 1 million tons of metal rebar per year.

Real estate investments (both individuals and companies)

Russian investors have invested more than $600 million in Dubai real estate. Investment volumes are expected to grow in the post-crisis period.

Free Economic Zones (FEZs)

As one of the forms of attracting foreign capital, FEZs operate in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (with zero taxation on business and income of companies and banks).

Stock Exchange

Relatively developed stock markets provide investment opportunities for medium and small investors, as well as individuals.

you), or Group A production, i.e. capital-intensive and relatively technological activities.

At the same time, credit and investment cooperation is actively developing. In May 2009, VTB Capital received a license from the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC).4. The opening of a new office, which will become a springboard for the development of VTB Group's investment business in the region, is an important element of the company's strategy.

Cooperation between Russian banks in the financial markets of the Gulf countries could be successfully developed in the following areas::

- establishing and further developing cooperation with existing and new partner banks (first of all, we are talking about banks and investment groups that already have experience working with Russian banks, such as Emirates NBD, Mashreqbank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, The Arab Investment Company, Bank Muscat, Doha Bank, TAIB, Arab Bank, First Gulf Bank, Arab Banking Corporation, NBB, GIB, etc.);

- trade finance and documentary operations;

- development of correspondent relations with regional banks;

- work in the financial and stock markets; attract new private and corporate clients;

- development of new financial management services and banking products for Arab investors in the Russian market;

- creation of joint mutual funds and development of asset trust management operations, fiduciary operations*;

- participation in the creation and financing of joint ventures in the Russian Federation, in the Gulf countries and third countries;

- operations with gold and precious metals;

- non-trading operations and work with VIP clients, etc.

Russians are showing interest in buying real estate in the GCC countries, especially the UAE. And not just for recreation. This is confirmed by the fact that 8% of foreign property owners are Russians.5

Opportunities are opening up in the field of using the achievements of modern medicine. So,

* Fiduciary operations - trust operations that the bank or trust company (fiduciaire) conducts on its own behalf on behalf of the client (fiduciante) and at his expense.

page 20

A joint Russian-Saudi ophthalmology center has been opened in Saudi Arabia with the direct participation of MNTC Eye Microsurgery.

The main reasons for Russian capital entering the Arab market are to increase efficiency, acquire strategic assets, and diversify (geographically and by industry). For example, Russian companies export capital to the Arab countries of the Gulf in order to expand control over the distribution channels associated with this type of activity. The following Russian companies operate in these countries: Lukoil, Zagranenergomontazh, Rosneftegazstroy, etc.

Lukoil's largest investment project, with commitments exceeding $4 billion, is the development of gas fields in Saudi Arabia. On February 12, 2007, LUKSAR (a joint venture of Lukoil - 80% of the capital and Saudi Aramco - 20%) announced the discovery of hydrocarbon accumulations based on the results of deep exploration drilling at the Tukhman 6 structure. In 2009, Lukoil Overseas completed a minimal exploration program for Block A in the Rub al-Khali desert in the Eastern Province and started the next stage of work

- drilling 5 appraisal wells and conducting additional seismic surveys on an area of more than 1,500 square kilometers. 90% of the original area of Block A has been completed, and the amount of seismic exploration work has been exceeded by more than 2.5 times.7

The main ways for Russian investors to enter the Persian Gulf market are shown in Table 2.

According to well-known Russian experts, non-commercial forms of cooperation between Russia and the Gulf Arab countries account for $1.2 - 1.5 billion annually. (including $250 - 300 million for the construction and modernization of economic and infrastructure facilities, $200 - 250 million for investment projects, and $150 - 250 million for satellite launch contracts). Tourism, education and scientific exchange should also be mentioned.8

The approximate volume of Russian capital investments in the Arab region, which also includes financial obligations to invest and the cost of contracts executed in the coming years, can be estimated at $3-4.5 billion.9 At the same time, the most important markets of the Russian Federation in this area are Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which account for about 80% of such obligations.10

At the same time, large Russian companies investing in Arab countries compete with business entities from third countries, not only Western ones, but also China. Russian companies enter the international market, where competition is conducted not at the level of dumping prices, but mainly in accordance with the rules and precedents adopted in civilized capital markets.

Investment cooperation with Russia, in addition to the development of a number of sectors and spheres of the national economy (including not only mining, but also processing industry, services, high technologies), could contribute to solving some socio-economic problems that are relevant for the GCC countries (food, water, employment, etc.). On the other hand, the Arab countries need modern technologies that Russia could supply in the form of fixed capital.


The countries of the Persian Gulf have significant resources in the form of monetary capital. Individual countries in this region are gradually turning into regional and global financial centers and today accumulate more than 90% of the total capital of the GCC ($1.5 trillion).11.

Russia is interested in the inflow of monetary capital and the implementation of certain projects. At the same time, the GCC countries, being among the world's largest investors, are still extremely cautious about investing in the Russian economy. In this regard, the Russian economist G. L. Ghukasyan notes: "As for the specific volumes and directions of movement of Arab capital, it can be noted that their accurate assessment is difficult, since, according to Arab observers, the process of obtaining specific figures in this area meets with serious obstacles... It is very difficult to trace the sources of education of Arab investment resources, especially when it comes to individuals or organizations. " 12

This approach also fully applies to the investments of the Gulf countries in the Russian Federation. It is largely determined by the specific features of Arab investment channels (see Table 3).

In the context of the global financial crisis (2008-2010), the investment activity of investors from the GCC countries in the direction of creating joint Russian - Arab investment funds significantly intensified. Thus, in December 2007, the non-profit foundation "Arab-Eurasian Community"was established. Its main goal is to promote the development of economic relations between Russia and Arab (Islamic) countries. In 2010, the investment fund Barwa Gazprombank Russia / CIS Real Estate Fund (Qatar) was established, the authorized capital is planned to increase from the initial $150 million to $500 million. Prominvest (Russia) and Damac Properties (UAE) also established a joint investment fund in 2010. The latter has allocated $300 million for the fund to invest in development projects and $500 million in infrastructure projects.13

In addition, there is information about broader opportunities for Gulf investors to participate in the privatization of Russian enterprises in recent years.

It follows from the above that the main features of investment from the GCC countries in the Russian economy are as follows::

1. Mainly state-owned assets are invested, including in partnership with large private entities.

page 21

Table 3

The main channels of Arab investment in the Russian economy


Purpose / motivations

Attachment object

Mechanism of action

Origin of capital

Central banks

National currency exchange rate stabilization, not profit maximization

Cash, long-term government bonds

Stock Exchange

State capital

State-owned sovereign funds

Government objectives: long-term development; conservation rather than augmentation of resources

Global financial assets and alternative investments

They often operate through ICOs and hedge funds*

State capital

Investment corporations (ICS) banks

Diversification (industry and regional), profit is desirable. Political motives prevail over economic ones

Corporate assets

They act directly

Public-private capital

Private companies

Making profit (economic motives) and control

Implementation of specific projects

They operate directly and through intermediaries

Private equity


Capital retention and increment

Deposits, real estate, corporate assets

Use financial intermediaries

Private equity

* A hedge fund is a private investment fund that is not restricted by regulatory regulations, or is subject to more lax regulation, is inaccessible to a wide range of individuals and is managed by a professional investment manager.

2. Small and medium-sized businesses are practically not represented in investment processes, as they have neither access to significant financial resources nor state support.

3. The underdevelopment of the banking system includes its inability to adequately assess credit risks. As a result, resources are provided to more reliable borrowers - large corporations (public and mixed private-public) with a good credit history.

4. Investments are primarily of a strategic nature, aimed at long-term socio-economic development, or investments in strategic assets for the purpose of controlling the investment object.

5. The growth of Arab investment in the Russian economy is typical as a trend.

Arab investments in Russia are significantly differentiated by industry and region. If we consider the industry aspect, the interests of Arab business in this regard are almost similar to the interests of Russian business structures in the market of the GCC countries. They cover the service sector (real estate, tourism, financial services), to a lesser extent - the manufacturing industry (petrochemicals, construction and building materials, metallurgy, high technologies, etc.). Of course, the most attractive area for Arab investment in Russia is oil and gas. However, here the Russian Federation, as well as the Gulf countries themselves in their national economies, significantly restricts opportunities for foreign investors.

As for the regional aspect, today the most significant Arab investments are represented in Tatarstan, the Nizhny Novgorod region, Moscow and some other regions of Russia. Thus, the Nizhny Novgorod Region was one of the first in our country to receive investments from Arab oil companies under the UAE-Russia energy cooperation program. Since 2005, the possibility of investing Arab money in Russian regions, especially where the population professing Islam lives, in particular in the Chechen Republic, has been discussed.14

However, the parties are in no hurry to implement the projects under discussion, which is due to the presence of a number of major problems of Russian-Arab investment cooperation:

1. The activation of economic and investment cooperation requires a radical transformation of the legal framework, external and internal support for investment activities at the state level, and a favorable attitude on the part of the public. This is necessary for greater activity of small and medium-sized private businesses in both Russia and the GCC countries in mutual investment activities.

2. There is no concept of public policy in this area. The specifics of the mechanisms of attracting Russian capital investments to the Persian Gulf region, their effectiveness, and the specifics of FEZ regimes for foreign investment are poorly studied. Also, mechanisms for attracting Arab investment to Russia, including industry and regional aspects, have not been developed.

3. The activity of Arab and Russian investors does not correspond to the potential capabilities of the parties, although it tends to grow. This is largely due (in addition to the above-mentioned problems and features of the internal reform of national economies) to the information security of the country.-

page 22

countries 'organizational " closeness", including their business structures. In particular, for Russian entrepreneurs, the financial markets and the economies of the Arabian monarchies as a whole are still new and poorly understood. That is why it is necessary to conduct more active information work, first of all relevant organizations (Russian-Arab Business Council / RADS / 15, etc.).

4. There are regional and sectoral imbalances in investment by both the Russian and Arab sides, while it is important for both sides to form a more balanced model of cooperation in this area. It seems that the most promising area of investment cooperation between the parties is still technological. It should be noted that for Russia, one of the areas of investment can be urban transport in the GCC countries, primarily metro.

If we consider the" country " aspect of Arab investment, we can say that today the UAE is Russia's largest partner in the region. According to the Russian and foreign press, there are about 400-500 Russian - Emirati enterprises in the UAE, and about 50-80 Russian companies are registered in the free economic zones.

In recent years, the UAE has invested about $3 billion in Russia and is likely to reach $11 billion. in connection with the continuation of the construction of the city of Bolshoe Domodedovo in the Moscow region 16. In addition, Invest AD (also known as ADIC), a large Emirati company, joined Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, in 2009 and bought out part of the Gornaya Karusel resort, which is expected to open the Russian National Ski Jumping Center in 201217. The UAE is also showing significant interest free economic zones (FEZs) in Russia and negotiate with residents of the Baikal (Republic of Buryatia) and Kabardino-Balkar (Elbrus region) FEZs.

Total investment is projected to reach up to $3 billion 18.

5. We consider one of the features of the investment process of the parties to be the incompleteness of the internal process of liberalizing capital flows as a result of economic reform. In the GCC countries, privatization processes are far from complete. In Russia, although formally the role of the state as an economic entity is limited to economic regulatory measures, in practice public financing, state guarantees, and state orders still play a significant role.

The flow of mutual investments does not correspond to the potential capabilities of the parties and, although it tends to grow, is significantly inferior to the needs for them. In order to maintain its economic position on the Arabian Peninsula, and even more so to strengthen and expand it, Russia should create the necessary political, economic, and humanitarian prerequisites that would help boost the activity of Russian businesses in the region.

If we talk about the forms of investment cooperation, then the establishment of holding companies (like the Arabian-Russian company already operating in the GCC) also looks promising.

In our opinion, the importance of developing a new state-based conceptual approach to investment cooperation between Russia and the Gulf countries, taking into account both the drastic changes that have taken place in Russia, the Gulf and the world over the past years, and the prospects and challenges that are facing us, is of paramount importance in the complex of measures necessary to solve this problem. before us and our partners.

On the other hand, it seems that Russian businesses should enter the region's financial markets more actively and consistently. We agree that the current conditions for business cooperation may not be ideal. But, as one wise saying goes, "the road will be mastered by the one who is walking," and waiting for the most attractive conditions that may not appear by themselves, you can miss the good chances of mutual cooperation that open up at the moment.

Solving these and other complex issues will allow attracting investments from the other side to each of the cooperating states on a mutually beneficial basis, and will help develop and deepen trade, economic and investment cooperation between Russia and the Gulf countries.

1 Russia and the Arab world: a two-way bridge // A diplomat. 2006, N 7.

Lavrov S. 2 Activization of Russian-Arab investment cooperation can bring effective returns / / Information resource "Vneshneekonomicheskaya deyatel'nost '" -

3 For more information, see: Belichenko S., Zhantiev D. Arab capital goes to Russia // Expert. 2003, N 47 (400).


5 The role of financial and economic education in the innovative development of Russian regions: proceedings of the international scientific and practical conference. Irkutsk: BSUEP Publishing House, 2008. (Conducted by Baikal State University of Economics and Law, Irkutsk.)

6 saudovskaya-araviya/

7 Lukoil Overseas Holding Ltd. Corporate Report, pp. 17, 54 -

Aidrus I. A. 8 Investment potential of Arab countries at the present stage. - In the collection: Interdisciplinary studies of the Arab East: Yearbook-2010. Moscow: RUDN University, 2010. p. 134.

9 Ibid., p. 138.

Isaev V., Filonik A. 10 Russia - Arab Countries: Political Imperatives and Economic cooperation. Part 2 -

11 Russian Banks and financial markets of the Persian Gulf countries / / Business Emirates Magazine - project/pr/detail. php?ID=1069

Gukasyan G. L. 12 Ob arabyskikh investitsiyakh [On Arab Investments], Moscow: Institute of the Middle East, 2009.

Karnaukh M. 13 Lrab investors took up Russia -

14 Arab capital is called to the Russian South -

15 RADS was established in August 2003, the founder is the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The starting point for the creation of the RABC was the signing of a Cooperation Agreement on June 18, 2002 by the President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Yevgeny Primakov and the President of the General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of the Arab Countries H. A. Ismail.

16, 15.11.2010.

17 An investment company from Abu Dhabi (UAE) will increase its investment in Russia -



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