On June 2-5, 2021, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF-2021) was held, in which the State of Qatar took part as a guest country.
Main results: the Qatari delegation, which brought together 51 organizations and 400 delegates, prepared 20 discussions, signed over 60 agreements, and held almost 250 business meetings in the field of cooperation in trade and investment, education, science and technology, culture and sports.
The delegation of the State of Qatar is one of the largest in the history of the country's participation in international economic forums. This is evidence that Qatar attaches great importance to strengthening and developing interstate relations at various levels: intergovernmental dialogue, large corporations or small enterprises and startups - all of them were represented as part of the country's official delegation and took an active part in the main SPIEF program.
The official delegation of Qatar was represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Investment Promotion Agency of Qatar (IPA Qatar), Qatar Development Bank (QDB), Financial Qatar Financial Center (QFC), Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA), Qatar National Bank (QNB), Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), Hassad Food, Ooredoo, Qatar Petroleum, Qatar Airways and Doha Forum and many others.
Especially for SPIEF, Qatar presented the National Pavilion, in the official opening of which were attended by His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs; His Excellency Ali bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry of Qatar and Acting Minister of Finance; His Excellency Jassim Saif Al-Sulaiti, Minister of Transport and Communications; His Excellency Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Minister of State for Energy Affairs; His Excellency Ahmad bin Mohammed Al-Sayed, Minister of State; His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, Secretary General of the Board of Qatar National Tourism Council of Qatar and GCEO of Qatar Airways; Her Excellency Lolwah bint Rashid Al-Khater, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; His Excellency Sheikh Ahmed bin Nasser Al-Thani, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Qatar to the Russian Federation; Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Yuri Borisov; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Mikhail Bogdanov; President and Chairman of the Management Board of PJSC VTB Bank Andrey Kostin; Chairman of the Russian-Qatari Business Council Akhmet Palankoev.
On the territory of Pavilion G of Expoforum, on an area of two thousand square meters, Qatar has recreated the atmosphere of a real Arab city with streets and a central square. The entire pavilion was united by a large-scale suspended installation: a translucent structure made of ephemeral rattan mesh in the form of arcades, volumetric walls and eastern arches creates an image that refers to the authentic architecture of Qatar.
The main business area of the Qatar Pavilion has been divided into two parts. In the first zone, the stands of the participation Qatari companies were located. Each stand had its own unique design, reflecting the characteristics of each of the companies. Another zone - Doha Hall - was a discussion platform in which the prospects for the development of investment and economic relations between Russia and Qatar were discussed.
The Qatar Pavilion program consisted of 20 panel discussions, dialogues, business breakfasts and round tables. 60 Qatari speakers took part in over 25 sessions of the SPIEF main program.
The central event of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum was the plenary session, in which the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin took part, via video conference - His Highness, Amir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria Sebastian Kurz. President of Argentina Alberto Fernandez and President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro also addressed the audience with a video greeting.
After the plenary session, Vladimir Putin met with representatives of foreign business, which was also attended by CEO of the Qatar Development Bank (QDB) Abdulaziz Nasser Al-Khalifa, CEO of Hassad Food Eng. Mohamed Al-Sadah, CEO of the Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) Rashid Bin Ali Al-Mansoori and President, CEO of Milaha Group Abdulrahman Essa Al-Mannai.
One of the key events at Doha Hall was the Russia-Qatar Business Dialogue on June 3, 2021, during which speakers discussed the current status of Russian-Qatari economic relations, Qatar's commitment to further developing economic ties with Russia, institutional attractiveness and broad opportunities for the development of mutual investment and trade.
The session was opened by the Minister of Commerce and Industry of the State of Qatar and Acting Minister of Finance, His Excellency Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari and Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Russian-Qatari Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation Yuri Borisov, speaking about the participation of Qatar as a guest country of SPIEF 2021.
The Russian-Qatari business dialogue was marked by the signing of a series of memoranda of understanding: between the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar) and the Russian company BI.ZONE; Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and the Russian Small and Medium Business Corporation; the Qatar Businessmen Association (QBA) and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs; Hassad Food and Russian Demetra Holding; the Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) and the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce; Qatar National Bank (QNB) and VTB among others.
On June 4, 2021, Doha Hall hosted an open interview with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, the host of CNBC TV channel Hadley Gamble on the topic “West Asia and North Africa: Steps to Stability and Prosperity”. The meeting served as a platform for discussing the problems of the region and the prospects for bilateral cooperation between our countries. The dialogue took place within the Doha Forum, a global platform that has brought together political leaders since 2000 and acts as a platform for the exchange of ideas and the development of action-oriented recommendations.
The final day of SPIEF 2021 was devoted to the educational and youth agenda, which started with a business breakfast on the theme “University between Global Challenges and Local Commitments: Life after the Pandemic”. At the business breakfast, heads of higher educational institutions of Qatar and Russia, representatives of Qatari public funds exchanged experience in overcoming the most acute problems for each country that have arisen in scientific and educational ecosystems over the past two years.
For the first time, within the framework of the SPIEF, the younger generation - schoolchildren and students - took part in the business program. Qatari schoolchildren became the first foreign children to take part in the forum. Ten schoolchildren from three Qatari schools under the auspices of Pre-University Education (PUE) passed a competitive selection in order to take part in the SPIEF Junior and present their projects at the forum sessions. Also, the Qatari delegation included ten students from Hamad bin Khalifa University. Students visited the university campuses of St. Petersburg and also took an active part in the SPIEF program.
The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) hosted a panel discussion on “Leading for the Future: Education in a Multi-Pandemic World”. The speakers discussed what the next generation of education leaders need to know in order to make correct and informed decisions about the future and be able to work in conditions of uncertainty.
Panel discussion "Innovative Financing and Partnerships for Education" allowed analysis of innovative models of partnerships from stakeholders from different regions for broad access to quality education. The dialogue was facilitated by the Education Above All Foundation (EAAF).
The role of the younger generation in creating a new world was discussed during a session of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) - the participants raised questions about supporting young people in their efforts to solve global problems and participate in building a future and prosperous world.
The educational and youth agenda was continued by the session on the topic "Transformation of Libraries and Books in the Digital Era." Representatives of the national libraries of Qatar and Russia, together with leading Russian publishing houses, shared the best practices for attracting and interacting with an audience of readers. The moderator was Abir Al-Kuwari, Director of Research and Teaching at the Qatar National Library (QNL). The ceremony of handing over the collection of books from the Qatar National Library to the Qatar Arabic Language Center at the Qatar-Russian Cooperation Center took place.
At the end of the forum, the QatarDebate Center and the Qatar Arabic Language Center in Moscow hosted a debate show in Arabic on the topic "Climate Change - Struggle or Adaptation?" During the debate, students from Russia and Qatar raised key issues on the global climate agenda and proposed mechanisms for practical problem solving in response to existing challenges. They also discussed why countries are forced to plan their development taking into account climate risks and the challenges of combating climate change. The proposed format is a public debate, the purpose of which is not to determine the winner, but to state the importance and necessity of the coexistence of different points of view and opinions.
“Discussion hones essential skills in the 21st century such as teamwork, communication and critical thinking. At QatarDebate Center, we believe that through fruitful dialogue and developed intelligence we can solve the problems of our time,” said Dr. Hayat Maarafi, Executive Director of the QatarDebate Center.
The Forum ended with the ceremony of transferring the heritage of the National Pavilion of the State of Qatar and cultural events of Qatar in the city. For the Qatar delegation, it is fundamentally important that the material component of the pavilion after the end of SPIEF 2021 will find a "second life". Therefore, within the framework of the large-scale Heritage Program, material resources (pieces of furniture, plants, etc.) were donated and distributed to Russian universities, libraries and museums.
The Heritage Program of the State of Qatar's participation in SPIEF included partnership agreements with leading educational and cultural institutions of St. Petersburg and other regions of Russia. Educational and cultural projects within the framework of the Heritage Program are created with the National Research University Higher School of Economics (branch in St. Petersburg), the State Museum of Sports, the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, St. Petersburg State University, the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. Peter the Great (Kunstkamera), St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics, the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation and the Institute of Ecology and Sustainable Development of Dagestan State University.
The Qatar Pavilion hosted the presentation of the book and the autograph session of one of the most recognizable culinary stars of Qatar, chef Nouf Al-Marri, who created the author's fusion-cafe "Desert Rose" in the National Museum of Qatar, reflecting the flavor of the national cuisine.
On June 2-5, 2021, Qatar presented a special cultural program - four major projects representing the country's historical traditions and contemporary art.
On June 3, 2021 at Pulkovo airport the opening of the exhibition “Focus: Philanthropy. Education" - a joint project of EAA, QRCC, the Donors Forum Association and the Good City of Petersburg Foundation. Until June 30, 2021, locals and city guests will be able to see pictures illustrating how charity and volunteering help to make education of high quality and affordable for any person, regardless of age, income or health characteristics.
On June 4, 2021, the exhibition “Qatar Between Land and Sea. Through Arts and Heritage” is not only one of the first international exposition and exhibition projects, which was presented in St. Petersburg after the pandemic, but also the first exhibition presenting the unknown Qatar to the Russian audience. The exhibition is based on a story about Qatari history and culture, spanning several centuries. The exposition includes about 200 items from the collection of the National Museum of Qatar, the collection of the private Museum of Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, as well as the Mathaf Museum: the Arab Museum of Modern Art.
The Qatar Film Days Festival, a joint initiative of the Doha Film Institute and the Cultural Creative Agency (Qatar-Russian Cooperation Center), has opened contemporary cinema in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) for the Russian audience. These are the best feature films and documentaries of the region, including Oscar nominees, participants and prize-winners of the Cannes, Toronto, Venice and other festivals. All these films form the new language of Arabic cinema, produced in Qatar with the support of the Doha Film Institute.
At the same time, on the same dates, the Mawaheb (Talents) music festival took place, which introduced the St. Petersburg music lovers to new performers from Qatar and other countries of the Middle East and North Africa.