Sharjah will host the Russia-GCC Business Forum that will be held at Expo Centre Sharjah from December 17 to 19. The slew of mega projects announced recently in the UAE is set to become a high talking point of an upcoming gathering of high-level government officials and senior business executives from both Russia and the GCC region. They will have an opportunity to assess first-hand the multitude of investment and joint venture opportunities generated by the projects . The largest of the new projects to be unveiled recently was Mohammed Bin Rashid City, which consists of 100 hotels, the world's biggest shopping mall and a Universal Studios theme park. Another mega project, a US$ 2.7 billion entertainment complex in Jebel Ali will feature five theme parks. "These projects have once again brought global attention and investor interest on the UAE. They are high-profile, multi-billion dollar projects that will be a key contributor to the tourism facilities and infrastructure development and attempts to diversify the local economy. The plethora of contracts and investment opportunities these projects are going to offer is enormous and will surely be on the top of the agenda of the Russia-GCC Business Forum," said Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, Director-General, Expo Centre Sharjah. Other projects that have been announced in recent months include a US$1 billion replica of the Taj Mahal and a canal connecting the Dubai's business district to the sea, while Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) has allocated billions of dollars to several large projects. Badr Jafar, Managing Director of the Crescent Group and President of Crescent Petroleum, another Platinum sponsor of the forum, said, "We have been active in developing ties with Russian companies over the past few years now, and plan to progress our mutually rewarding relationships even further in the coming years." The Arab world is the fifth-most popular destination for Russian real estate investments, and for Russians interested in Arab real estate, the UAE is the top pick, according to a report by Knight Frank's Premium Real Estate Department in Russia and the CIS. According to official data, Russians bought around US$ 553 million worth of local real estate in 2011, and US$ 690 million in the first 10 months of 2012. For his part, Peter Richards, Managing Director, Gulftainer Group, a Platinum sponsor of the Russia-GCC Business Forum, said, "Gulftainer began evaluating options to outline the Russian ports and logistics industry in 2010 and we look forward to putting forward our experience and knowledge of working in Russia and the success that the company has had there to date."