UAE and Russia sign deals worth $1.3bn during Putin's Abu Dhabi visit

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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed with Russian President Vladimir Putin during arrival ceremonies in the emirate. (AFP)
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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed enhancing bilateral ties and strategic cooperation. (Twitter: @MohamedBinZayed)
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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed enhancing bilateral ties and strategic cooperation. (Twitter: @MohamedBinZayed)
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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed enhancing bilateral ties and strategic cooperation. (Twitter: @MohamedBinZayed)
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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed enhancing bilateral ties and strategic cooperation. (Twitter: @MohamedBinZayed)
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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed with Russian President Vladimir Putin during arrival ceremonies in the emirate. (AFP)
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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed with Russian President Vladimir Putin during arrival ceremonies in the emirate. (AFP)
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Al Fursan, the UAE’s aerobatics demonstration team, does a flyby at Qasr Al Watan. (Twitter: @MohamedBinZayed)
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Al Fursan, the UAE’s aerobatics demonstration team, does a flyby at Qasr Al Watan. (Twitter: @MohamedBinZayed)
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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed with Russian President Vladimir Putin during arrival ceremonies in the emirate. (AFP)
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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin upon his arrival in the emirate. (AFP)
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Famous Abu Dhabi landmarks were draped in Russia's flag colors to honor President Vladimir Putin’s arrival. (Twitter: @wamnews)
Updated 15 October 2019

UAE and Russia sign deals worth $1.3bn during Putin's Abu Dhabi visit

  • Putin was greeted by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed with a 21-gun salute
  • Deals focussed on energy, advanced technology and health sectors

ABU DHABI: Vladmir Putin signed deals worth more than $1.3 billion with the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday as his Gulf tour came to an end in Abu Dhabi.

The Russian president arrived in the UAE’s capital earlier in the day, following his visit to Saudi Arabia where he met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh.

Putin was greeted by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, at the Presidential Airport with a 21-gun salute.




Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed with Russian President Vladimir Putin during arrival honors. (AFP)

He then arrived at the Presidential Palace Qasr Al-Watan where there was an official welcoming ceremony.

The pair struck six agreements, including one on shared investments between Russia’s sovereign wealth fund and the Emirati investment fund Mubadala.

Deals worth more than $1.3 billion, notably in the energy, advanced technology and health sectors, were tabled during Putin's visit, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

“You will not be disappointed by your Russian partners,” Putin said as he arrived.

Sheikh Mohammed tweeted: “This historic visit reflects the strength of UAE-Russia relations, which we will continue to jointly promote at all levels for the mutual benefit of our nations.”

“Among the Gulf countries, the UAE is the leader in terms of trade with Russia,” Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters ahead of the Gulf tour.

In 2018, commerce between the two countries tabled some $1.7 billion.

As Putin made his way to the presidential palace, jets painted the sky white, blue and red - the colours of the Russian flag - and cannons fired a ceremonial salute.

The streets of Abu Dhabi were lined with Emirati and Russian flags, while road signs that usually display traffic warnings instead greeted Putin in Arabic and Russian.

Putin and Sheikh Mohammed also met Emirati astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori, who last month became the first Arab to reach the International Space Station on board a Russian rocket.

“We are ready to continue providing all the necessary assistance to the United Arab Emirates in the space sector,” Putin told Sheikh Mohammed.

 

In the build up to his visit Abu Dhabi lit up its famous landmarks with colors of the Russian flag to mark Putin’s return to the UAE, his first official visit since 2007.

 

 

ADNOC’s headquarters at the Abu Dhabi Corniche was displaying at its facade a huge LED portrait of Putin and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed in a firm handshake – apparently taken during the latter’s visit to Moscow in 2017 – as well as the Russian flag.

Other landmarks that also draped their buildings with Russia’s flag colors were Emirates Palace, Marina Mall, Khalifa University, Capital Gate Hotel, Abu Dhabi Global Market and the UAE Cultural Foundation.

“The visit reflects the strong overall strategic partnership between the two countries and will enhance their cooperation in vital sectors,” Sergei Kuznetsov, the Russian ambassador to the UAE, earlier said, adding that the visit will strengthen the relations between the two countries, especially in light of their strategic partnership.

Kuznetsov also stressed that the Russian president’s visit to the UAE represented a marked progress in the bilateral relations between the two countries.

*With AFP


In war-battered Syria, pay demands turn football into ‘curse’

Updated 25 September 2020

In war-battered Syria, pay demands turn football into ‘curse’

  • $30,000 Is being demanded by players for a single season

DAMASCUS: Professional football clubs in war-battered Syria are struggling to sign new players, who are demanding raises to counter the decline in the value of their pay packets. 

Nine years into a grinding civil war, Syria’s economy is in tatters, life is increasingly expensive, and the national currency is in freefall on the black market. 

The coronavirus pandemic has compounded economic woes, with footballers forced to play in closed-door stadiums, wiping out turnstile revenues. 

“Professional football has become a curse,” said Eyad Al-Sibaei, president of Homs city’s Wathba club, runners-up in the Syrian league last season. 

“Players who once played with us for reasonable amounts are now demanding astronomical sums. They say it’s because of the devaluation” of the Syrian currency. 

The Syrian league, which has no foreign stars, was suspended for just one month for Covid-19, and it did not stop during the war except at the outset in 2011. 

Players were transferred last year for as little as 35 million Syrian pounds ($17,500 at the current black market rate), but Sibaei said players are now demanding salaries of up to 60 million pounds ($30,000) for a single season. 

“Next season, we’ll need between 400 and 500 million pounds for contracts and other expenses, knowing that the club only has around 160 million in its kitty,” he said. 

He said the club spent around 315 million last year, some of which he had to advance from his own pocket. 

Whereas the average Syrian earns between 50,000 and 100,000 pounds ($25-50) a month, an average professional football player brings home around 1.5 million pounds ($750) on a monthly basis. 

Osama Omri, a player with the Al-Wahda club which finished fifth last season, conceded football players were better off than the average Syrian. 

“The salaries are decent and the purchasing power of some players is good,” said the 28-year-old attacking midfielder with the Damascus club. 

“But it’s not enough to secure their future as a player’s lifespan on the field is short,” he said, as most players retire in their early thirties. 

No foreign player has been recruited since 2012, but today’s record devaluation is making even acquiring Syrian talent tough. 

The pound’s value against the US dollar has plummeted in the past year, from around 430 to 1,250 at the official rate, and from around 600 to 2,000 on the black market. 

The clubs Jaish and Shorta (army and police in English) are funded by the defense and interior ministries, respectively. 

But other clubs say the dual economic-coronavirus crisis has depleted their coffers, and are seeking funds elsewhere to recruit before the new season starts in a month. 

Reigning champions Tishreen, based in the coastal city of Latakia, have signed two new players with funds from sponsors and club board members. 

Ward Al-Salama, 26, who last year scored in Syria’s 1-0 win against the Philippines in World Cup 2022 qualifiers, is moving from Jaish for 50 million pounds ($25,000). 

Kamel Kawaya, 22, signed for Tishreen from Shorta for the same figure. 

Al-Wahda has renewed contracts with all its players, and even made three new signings. 

Its president Maher Al-Sayyed said he had pitched in to help cover some of next year’s ballooning budget. 

“I lent the club 180 million pounds while waiting for conditions to improve,” out of a projected budget of more than 600 million pounds, he said. 

In the northern city of Aleppo, Al-Ittihad are looking at a budget of 500 million pounds — more than twice last year’s. 

Basil Hamwi said they would be counting on fans and expatriates to help make it through the season. 

At Hutteen, another top-flight club from Latakia, coach Hussein Afash said he understood players’ demands. 

“The players are right to be asking for better-paid contracts after the devaluation of the pound as they’re now earning a fourth of what they did,” he said. 

Club president Khaled Tawil said he hoped that wealthy business tycoon Samer Foz would help cover costs. 

“We are counting on Foz, who sponsors our team,” he said.