Tue, 19 Nov 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin's has told officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) they "will not be disappointed" as he wrapped up a short Gulf tour by signing deals worth more than $1.3bn in Abu Dhabi.

A day after inking a major oil cooperation deal with Saudi Arabia during a visit to Riyadh, Putin was greeted at the airport on Tuesday by Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

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. As the two leaders arrived at Qasr Al Watan palace, troops on horseback flanked their limousine while military jets flew overhead leaving a trail of smoke in the colour of the Russian flag.

The crown prince and the Russian president struck six agreements, including one on shared investments between Russia's sovereign wealth fund and the Emirati investment fund Mubadala.

According to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), deals worth over $1.3bn - notably in the energy, advanced technology and health sectors - were tabled during Putin's visit.

"You will not be disappointed by your Russian partners," the Russian president said on the agreements.

"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," Abu Dhabi's crown prince tweeted.

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

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

Putin visits UAE astronaut

Putin and Prince Mohammed also met Emirati astronaut Hazzaa al-Mansoori, who last month became the first Arab to reach the International Space Station, to which Russia currently enjoys a monopoly on manned flights.

Mansoori came back to Earth in early October after his eight-day mission, returning home last week to a hero's welcome.

"We are ready to continue providing all the necessary assistance to the United Arab Emirates in the space sector," Putin told the crown prince, according to a statement.

Putin's visit to US ally Riyadh, where he signed deals worth billions of dollars, came amid efforts to calm soaring tensions between the kingdom and its arch-rival Iran.

Despite its alliance with Tehran, Moscow has improved ties with Riyadh in recent years, hosting King Salman on the first official trip to Russia by a Saudi monarch in October 2017.

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