To help support the Russian-speaking community in Qatar, a new organization has announced plans to hold events and open a cultural center here sometime in the next few months.
During its inaugural meeting yesterday, leaders of the Organization of Russian Compatriots (ORC) in Qatar told local media that outreach efforts were important, given the number of new Russians who move here each day.
Speaking to the Qatar Tribune, Alla Smirnova, a member of the ORC’s coordinating council, said:
“It’s important for everyone to have others around who share their values, culture and traditions, and we hope that our organization will help a lot of people to communicate, and make their lives easier, because it’s sometimes hard to be far from one’s country and culture.”
There are about 2,500 to 3,000 Russians in Qatar, and more than 7,000 Russian-language speakers, the Russian Embassy in Doha’s Second Secretary Alexey Kocheshkov told the newspaper.
Many of these speakers hail from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, and Armenia, “each of whom are familiar with Russian traditions, culture and more importantly the language,” Gulf Times reports.
Once the center is open, the plan is to begin holding events to celebrate national holidays and cultural events, officials said.
In a statement, organizers added that the meeting, which included a discussion about activities related to sports, children’s education, art and culture, business development and other issues, marked an “important milestone in the history of Russian speaking community in Qatar and will elevate the activities of the community to a new higher level.”
Qatar-Russia relations have been on and off since the late 1980s, when the two established official missions in each other’s countries.
In 2012, hundreds of Qatar residents protested outside of the Russian embassy here after the country vetoed a UN resolution to condemn Bashar Al Assad’s regime.
At the time, the Russia’s UN ambassador denied reports circulating on the internet that the country threatened to “wipe Qatar off the map.”
But more recently, ties between Doha and Moscow have been growing stronger, bolstered in part through economic deals.
In May for example, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) agreed to invest $2 billion in Russia, following several other investments made last year, including a stake in Russian bank VTB.