Kazan becoming a gateway to Russia for Muslim investors

The city of Kazan will bring together Arab sheikhs and millionaires, as well as politicians and bankers of the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. Source: Press Photo

The city of Kazan will bring together Arab sheikhs and millionaires, as well as politicians and bankers of the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. Source: Press Photo

The Fifth International Economic Summit of Russia and the countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will take place in Kazan on Oct. 2–3.

The capital of Tatarstan will soon become a real financial Mecca. The city of Kazan will bring together Arab sheikhs and millionaires, as well as politicians and bankers of the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. There are more than 35 countries represented in total.

Members of the OIC include Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ikhsanoglu, the president of the Islamic Development Bank, Ahmad Mohamed Ali al-Madani, and the chairman of the Businessmen's Association of Qatar, Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim al-Thania. Russia will be represented by Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev and Central Bank head Elvira Nabiullina.

One of the summit’s objectives is to re-open Russia to the Islamic world.

“During the times of the Soviet Union, countries of the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia were the markets for the Soviet products,” says the chairman of the summit’s organizing committee, Tatarstan Investment Development Agency head Linar Yakupov.

“In the ‘90s, our relations were suspended. But the holy place is never empty: Instead of the Soviet companies came the American and European ones. But now we have the opportunity to make a comeback—and not only to promote our products, but also to attract investment,” says Yakupov.

According to him, Russia was not considered an investment by Arab countries. However, a cautious attitude is gradually changing to interest, and now Tatarstan is becoming a kind of gateway for investors from the Muslim countries.

On the one hand, the republic is one of the most economically developed regions of the country; on the other hand, it is a land rich with Islamic tradition. Of course, it is psychologically easier for businessmen from the Middle East to establish contacts with Russia through Tatarstan, and investors are known to be cautious people and are subject to stereotypes.

“Unfortunately, for many, the knowledge about Russia is limited to this list: Moscow, St. Petersburg, cold climate and Mafia in the streets. What they show in Hollywood movies is what they believe,” says Yakupov. “That is why we will start the summit with a business breakfast on ‘Myths about Russia.’ It takes a lot in order to dispel them.”

In addition, journalists may convince financiers from the east that Russia is not a cold country, but an oasis for investment. Their role in improving the country’s image will be discussed at the media forum “Paralegal Professionals’ Expert Notes.” Leaders of business publications will be participating in it.

In general, the summit’s program promises to be very diverse.

One of the sessions is devoted to "smart" cities and satellite cities. These are cities built according to the principles of eco-design, created by high-tech manufacturing. As a rule, they tend to give a powerful impetus to the regional economy’s development.

In the near future, there will be two such satellite cities in the capital of Tatarstan: Innopolis and Smart City Kazan. Companies from Southeast Asia and the Middle East are actively participating in the development of the latter project.

The summit will lay the future city’s foundation stone. It is assumed that highly qualified doctors, engineers and teachers will live and work there. It is quite possible that Smart City Kazan will become a center for the development of Islamic finance.

“The Islamic finance market is growing every year, and, today, the assets of Islamic banks are worth more than half a trillion dollars,” says Yakupov. “The trend is global and Tatarstan has good opportunities.”

However, this area is very delicate.

As it is known, according to Sharia, one is not allowed to receive income from interest, and that is why Islamic banking has its own complex specificity. It is not always possible to implement these principles in the Russian reality. At the summit, participants will also discuss good and bad examples of this.

The guests will be able to take a break from the economy at the traditional horse races for the Kazan Summit Cup. In addition, the president of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov, will hold a gala dinner on the premises of the Kazan racecourse.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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