Sheikh Ahmed bin Nasser bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar’s new ambassador to the Russian Federation, visited Skolkovo for the first time after recently taking up his post at the Qatar embassy in Moscow. During the visit, the ambassador met with Skolkovo Foundation chairman, Arkady Dvorkovich, and the two discussed avenues for expanding cooperation.
Chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation Arkady Dvorkovich (left) and Ambassador Sheikh Ahmed bin Nasser bin Jassim Al Thani of Qatar (right). Image: Sk.ru
It is no surprise that Qatar should show interest in the Skolkovo Innovation Center. The country’s high ranking in GDP per capita (fourth place according to the World Bank) is largely thanks to its abundant oil and gas reserves, which it exports across the world and upon which its government still relies heavily for revenue. Like other energy producers, Qatar’s government has been actively seeking out ways to diversify its economy through a knowledge-based economy characterized by innovation and research to decrease its reliance on fossil fuel exports; that is why it is looking abroad to places like Skolkovo where innovation and technological expertise have already succeeded in achieving similar goals.
Mr. Dvorkovich and Ambassador Al Thani talked about cooperation opportunities, in research as well as investment opportunities, including potential investment into laboratory development for the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, hospitality, and so on. Mr. Dvorkovich gave the ambassador an in-depth presentation on Skolkovo Innovation Center, outlining its facilities and services. Mr. Dvorkovich also gave an example of how Skolkovo is an ideal location for big corporations to conduct research and test new technologies such as Yandex’s autonomous cars, Boeing’s R&D and pilot training facilities (Ambassador Al Thani himself is a qualified pilot), and the construction of Sberbank’s R&D center, which will employ 14,000 people when completed.
Chairman Arkady Dvorkovich talks about Skolkovo Innovation Center. Image: Sk.ru
Qatar’s relations with Skolkovo are relatively recent but have had a high degree of success; in February 2020, seven Skolkovo resident startups participated in the first-ever business mission to Qatar in which they met with 16 governmental and business entities, thus sowing the first seeds of cooperation. The most recent Skolkovo Softlanding program included nine startups from Qatar, three of which were selected for the top-tier cohort. During Startup Village 2020, the CEO of Qatar Development Bank, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Khalifa, took part in a plenary session; this year, Qatar Development Bank will participate in the event as an international partner and will bring aboard 10 Qatari startups to the prominent event. Aside from that, Qatar will also be the official guest country to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum taking place from June 2-5, and which will witness joint activities between Skolkovo Foundation and several Qatari entities.
Ambassador Al Thani tours Skolkovo Technopark and meets AI Robot. Image: Sk.ru
Following the meeting, the delegation was given a full tour of Skolkovo Innovation Center and Ambassador Al Thani offered a statement to Sk.ru: “We were pleased to visit and were informed of the distinguished education and research services provided by the SK Foundation, as well as the value added in the development of the business community and investment in young people’s capabilities. Based on what we saw, the SK Foundation is a wonderful and ideal place for work and creativity with ideal facilities and a healthy environment. There is no doubt that young people deserve support in order to broaden their horizons in the future.”
His Excellency also added: “As Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the Russian Federation, we are eagerly looking forward to building close cooperation between the pioneering SK Foundation and its counterparts in the State of Qatar to build an effective strategic partnership that contributes to serving humanity through scientific research and development.”