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Chechen leader asks UAE to invest over $2 billion in the Russian province’s energy and industrial sectors

The Chechen leader has asked the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to invest upwards of $2 billion in the Russian province’s energy and industrial sectors, reported Reuters. The Chechen province, mainly Muslim inhabited has been through two separatist wars since 1994. Analysts have said the Chechen leader is trying to reach out to Muslim states in the Middle East, as it seeks continued FDI.

However, the Chechen leader still enjoys the support of the Russian government. Speaking over the proposal to the UAE, Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader, noted that the province has good relations with the UAE, and as such investments would be welcome. Kadyrov was speaking to a visiting delegation from the UAE, said Reuters.

Kadyrov proposed 17 investment projects for the region of just over 1 million people, totaling 68.89 billion roubles ($2.35 billion), his press service said. It said the bulk of investments would go towards hydropower plants. The Russian government credits Kadyrov with maintaining a shaky peace in Chechnya, a decade after Russian troops drove separatists out of power in the second of two post-Soviet wars in the province on Russia's southern border.

Abu Dhabi, keen to diversify its economy away from a reliance on oil, has been an active investor overseas. The emirate is the largest and wealthiest in the UAE. UAE delegation member, Mahmood al-Mahmood said the state has already chosen some projects that it plans to work on. The delegation however gave no details of the planned investment.

Chechnya is part of a patchwork of mainly Muslim republics that make up Russia's volatile North Caucasus, home to an Islamist insurgency whose most prominent leader claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed 36 people at Moscow's busiest airport last month.

The Kremlin has poured money into the North Caucasus, where unemployment in some areas exceeds 50 percent, in the hope of keeping the youth out of the insurgency. Moscow has budgeted 152 billion roubles for Chechnya from 2008-2012.

Fahim al Qasimi, who heads the UAE's economic and international relations department, told Kadyrov his country "has a huge wish and interest in developing relations with Chechnya".

Flights out of the Chechen capital Grozny to Dubai, its first international commercial flights, will start in two or three months, Ziyad Sabsabi, who represents Chechnya in Russia's upper house of parliament, told Reuters

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