Russia-Qatar: The First Beginnings of Friendly Relations

The former ‘closed zone’ in the Persian (Arabian) Gulf is gradually beginning to open op to Russia. Friendly relations are slowly starting to be developed with several countries in the region. As an example, we can take the nation of Qatar, relations with which have become noticeably livelier after ambassador Fahad bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah arrived in our country and started his duties.  
This is mainly ‘goodwill diplomacy’, i.e. a cultural exchange. For example, in the Russian Ministry of Culture a meeting was held between deputy minister Aleksandr Zhuravski and ambassador Al-Attiyah. The parties discussed the results of the 6th Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum, during which the ministers for culture of Russia and Qatar expressed a shared interest in having the emirate participate in the Forum in 2018 as a guest country. It is especially pleasant, that the next Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum (which will be held in the middle of November) will, in a certain sense, tally up the results of the ‘boundary’ Russia-Qatari Cultural Year. 
A good tradition has been instated, according to which the country that Russia is implementing a large-scale cultural project in becomes a guest of the forum, which is why Qatar will become this year’s guest. 
It is absolutely possible, that participation in the forum allows for new opportunities for cooperation and cultural events that tell visitors about the culture of the guest country and make the visitor familiar with that country. Statistical data tells us, that the Cultural Forum is a beautiful opportunity not just for an intercultural, but for a wide international dialogue as well. “Cooperation in the cultural sphere is no less important than cooperation in economics or politics. Culture transmits the spirit of the nation and if people can build cooperation on that basis, then this cooperation will be tighter and more long-term,”— ambassador Fahad bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah. He also expressed a hope, that the 'boundary’ Culture Year will be successful and that “we will come to the Forum with very good content”. 
Earlier, in November 2017 under the auspices of the Business Area of the Saint Petersburg Cultural Forum minister for culture Vladimir Medinsky and Qatar’s minister for sport and culture Salah bin Ganim Al-Ali signed a joint declaration about inter-ministerial cooperation, which, to be more precise, dealt with the 'boundary’ Russia-Qatari Cultural Year. According to the head of the Ministry of Culture of Russia, the preparatory programme for the ‘boundary’ Cultural Year is very diverse and broad. It is expected, that the final list of events will be finished towards the end of 2017. 
As is known, this year in our country and in Qatar in 2022 the FIFA World Cup will be held, and our countries have many common issues to discuss and to share experience about. This is mainly the fact, that both countries are under very harsh sanctions and the West uses dirty tricks against them and their allies, all with the end goal of preventing Russia and Qatar from hosting the World Cup. In this context, we can say that the football authorities in both countries are in constant contact and are objectively discussing all questions and problems related to these important international events. 
Taking into account, that the World Cup in Russia will be held earlier, the Qatari football leadership is planning to study the Russian event in detail. 
We can say that preparations are in full swing in Qatar; for the construction of stadiums alone 8 billion dollars has been spent. By the way, some of them will remain stadiums. The majority of them, however, will see their capacity reduced. Some of them have 15 thousand temporary seats and this number will grow by 5 thousand during the matches. This is what Qatari football needs. And several of them will stop being stadiums at all. All seats will be removed and the grounds will be used by the provincial authorities for their own ends, as commercial spaces, offices, and living or entertainment complexes. A minimum of three stadiums will be used this way after the championship. 
The head of the ‘Qatar-2022’ organisational committee, Hassan Al-Tawadi, is confident that all buildings will be finished in time for the championship. The situation will be more complex because of the diplomatic crisis in the Persian Gulf: several states in the region have broken off ties with Qatar, having accused the country of sponsoring terrorism. “We are making progress with the construction of the buildings for Qatar 2022 fully according to the plan” – declared the head of the organisational committee. –Everything is being done on time. There are no delays. The crisis hasn’t influenced us too much. Of course, there has been some discomfort. We relied on Middle Eastern suppliers, but we have now switched to others.” 
Russia also has “very dynamic” ties with Qatar in the area of military-technical cooperation, as was reported by assistant to the president of the Russian Federation on matters of military-technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin. "In this year we have made new partners, who a couple of years ago wouldn’t have thought it possible that they would buy our weaponry. I am mainly speaking of Qatar here, with which we have very dynamic negotiations in the area of military-technological cooperation, and of several countries in the Africa region”, — he said.
These are just the first beginnings of friendly cooperation with Qatar, a country that is far from our gigantic homeland in the sands of the Arabian Peninsula. And both countries have the wish and the drive to further develop these recent friendly relations.
Translated from the Russian by V.A.V.