Expo 2020 Dubai may not change the region's political status quo but will contribute towards decreasing tensions, said Yuri Vidakas, charge d’affaires of Russia in the UAE.
“When the Expo begins, I hope it will contribute to decreasing the level of tension in the region. All countries will rally together in Dubai and initiate dialogues on global problems,” Vidakas told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview.
“We have a clear stand on the Middle East as declared by our leadership. We won’t change that. But we welcome political dialogue. I am sure nations will depart from the Expo with a positive feeling…they will have a positive perception. Even if they move an inch closer, it is a huge success,” he added.
Russia’s participation in the first Expo in an Arab country signifies the country’s leading role in the Arab world and its strategic relationship with the UAE, Vidakas said.
“Russia takes this Expo very seriously as there is political, economic and cultural significance. We have a special position in the Arab world. We are not newcomers in the Middle East where we have traditionally been supporting political dialogue (to solve problems) and have a very moderate and well-balanced policy.
“The UAE is one of our key partners in the region and we share a special, strategic relationship with the Emirates. With our participation in the Expo, we are putting one more brick into our relations…a substantial brick.. a solid one to cement it.”
Vidakas also added Russia will have ‘high-level participation’ at the mega event.
Russia’s relationship with the UAE has strengthened in recent years. In 2018, it signed a strategic partnership agreement with the UAE, the first deal of its kind between Moscow and a GCC country.
On the economic front, the diplomat said the Expo will be a win-win for both Dubai as well as the 190-plus participating countries.
“Dubai is an important city of the world. And the Expo is a universal event and the whole world will be participating. It is a great opportunity for countries to showcase what they have while Dubai will also present its vision and innovations,” said Vidakas.
With the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on world economies, he said everyone is eager to boost economic development. “But we cannot do it with a click. It is a process and companies coming to participate and network at the Expo will help.”
He said more than 50 business events will be held at the Russian pavillion and subjects like energy, technology, finance, urban development, space technology, education and health will be discussed.
In 2019, UAE-Russia bilateral trade was estimated at $3.7 billion, an eight percent increase compared to 2018. “Expo will boost trade and business partnerships further. Tourism is also a major area, and Dubai was and will always remain a top destination for Russians.”
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