Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra performs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the support of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and Saudi Aramco

Press release, 17.06.2018

Dhahran, June 17, 2018. – The Russian symphonic orchestra played its first concert in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the support of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Saudi Aramco as part of the Vision 2030 reform program of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.

The performance of the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, conducted by the world-renowned maestro, Valery Gergiev, was also the first world-class symphonic concert in the history of the Kingdom and the debut performance on the stage of the state-of-the-art theatre and concert hall of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran, the oil capital of the country.

The Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra concert in Saudi Arabia coincided with Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and played to a full house. When the concert ended, the audience - many of whom came from different parts of the country – gave a standing ovation.

The concert was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Olga Golodets, the Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation Aleksandr Novak, the CEO of RDIF Kirill Dmitriev, the Minister of Energy of Saudi Arabia Khalid A. Al-Falih, the Minister of Information of Saudi Arabia Awwad S. Alawwad, and the CEO of Saudi Aramco Amin H. Nasser.

The concert was the first example of cultural cooperation between RDIF and Saudi Aramco. Ithra is an important initiative of Saudi Aramco, which aims to promote art and knowledge and build cultural links with the whole world.

In 2017 RDIF and Saudi Aramco signed a memorandum to create a USD 1 bn mutual fund to invest in the energy sector. Relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia have actively developed in recent years due to the support of the leaders of both countries.

In 2015, during the visit of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud to Moscow, the sovereign fund of Saudi Arabia, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced its intention to invest USD 10 bn in Russian projects through partnership with RDIF. The visit of the King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to the Russian Federation in October 2017 gave new momentum to these relations. As of today, the PIF has invested USD 2 bn in 15 mutual projects with RDIF.

Another example of mutually beneficial collaboration between the two countries is the agreement to reduce oil production, which helped to stabilize global energy markets.

The Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra performed Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No.1 and Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite, arias from Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, as well as excerpts from Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No.5, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker ballet.

Soloists: Lorenz Nasturica-Herschcowici (violin), Oleg Sendetskiy (cello), Timur Martynov (trumpet), Aigul Khismatulina (soprano), and Evgeny Akhmedov (tenor).

Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and member of the Mariinsky Theatre’s Board of Trustees, said:
“It is a great honour for RDIF to organize the first symphonic concert in the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We all saw the admiration of the center’s audience who listened to the enchanting playing of the Russian musicians conducted by the maestro Valery Gergiev, and their enthusiastic standing ovation for the Russian orchestra. It is a very important part of our relationship, because our Saudi partners can see that we bring the best of Russian art, and we have a lot to be proud of. RDIF will further contribute to strengthening cultural relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Our next project will be a week of Russian culture later this year.”

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Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is Russia's sovereign wealth fund established in 2011 to make equity co-investments, primarily in Russia, alongside reputable international financial and strategic investors. The fund acts as a catalyst for direct investment in the Russian economy. RDIF’s management company is based in Moscow. Further information can be found at

The Russian-Saudi Investment Fund was established by Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the Public Investment Fund (PIF) to invest in attractive projects primarily within Russia that help to strengthen trade, economic and investment cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Priority investment sectors include food production and agriculture, consumer goods and services, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, innovation, hi-tech, and infrastructure. Further information can be found at

Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) is the national oil company of Saudi Arabia, one of the largest integrated oil, gas and chemical companies in the world. Further information can be found at

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) was inaugurated in 2016 by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz. Ithra is a creative and cultural hub that empowers human development in Saudi Arabia by inspiring people to learn and create. Ithra (Arabic: “rich in knowledge”) is a Saudi Aramco citizenship initiative. The center offers programs and initiatives that provide compelling experiences while enhancing and showcasing local and global talents. Ithra's facilities include the Idea Lab, the Cinema, the Library, the Theater, the Museum, the Art Gallery, and the Children’s Development Center. In line with Saudi Vision 2030, Ithra supports the Kingdom’s transformation and the fostering of a knowledge-based economy, in addition to improving the quality of life of its visitors.

The Mariinsky Theatre Symphonic Orchestra is one of the oldest in Russia. Its history dates back over 200 years to the first St. Petersburg Imperial Opera Orchestra. According to a survey of the leading music critics the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra is one of the top twenty orchestras in the world. Valery Gergiev has conducted the orchestra since 1978.

For additional information contact:
Arseniy Palagin
Russian Direct Investment Fund
Press Secretary
Tel: +7 495 644 34 14, ext. 2395
Mobile: +7 916 110 31 41

Gleb Bryanskiy
Russian-Saudi Investment Fund
Head of Communications
Tel: +7 495 644 34 14, ext. 2336
Mobile: +7 903 774 45 10