Professor Damir Mukhetdinov, Head of the Centre for Islamic Studies at St Petersburg University, has met with representatives of state, religious and educational organisations in Baku. During his visit to Azerbaijan, a memorandum of cooperation was signed with the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts.

On the first day of the visit, a meeting was held with Mubariz Gurbanli, Chairman to the State Committee on Religious Associations of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Damir Mukhetdinov conveyed greetings from the Rector of St Petersburg University, Nikolay Kropachev. He also invited his Azerbaijani colleagues to take part in the World Conference on Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue to be held in St Petersburg in May 2022.

In addition, a meeting was held with Agil Shirinov, Rector of the Azerbaijan Institute of Theology. It focused on the development of theology as a branch of science. In this context, the potential of St Petersburg University was presented, where the first doctoral dissertation on Islamic theology in Russia was defended in October 2020.

The Azerbaijan Institute of Theology also hosted a presentation of works published under the auspices of St Petersburg University in the series ‘Revival and Renewal’. It aroused great interest among the staff of the university. The parties discussed opportunities for practical cooperation between theological universities of the two countries, student exchanges and inter-university teaching practice.

The next day, the Centre for Islamic Studies of St Petersburg University and the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts signed a memorandum of cooperation. The document was signed by Professor Damir Mukhetdinov, Head of the Centre for Islamic Studies of St Petersburg University, and Professor Ceyran Mahmudova, Rector of the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts.

The Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts is one of Azerbaijan’s leading institutions of higher education in the sphere of humanities. The university trains personnel for work in the fields of music, fine arts, film and television, and theatre.

The signed agreement envisages cooperation in the study of the cultural heritage of Muslim peoples of Eurasia and the strengthening of humanitarian contacts. The year 2021 at the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts is marked by the 880th anniversary of an outstanding medieval poet Nizami Ganjavi. Projects aimed at introducing the literary heritage of this author to the Russian young public could become the first jointly implemented projects under the Memorandum of Cooperation.

There was also a visit to Baku International Multiculturalism Centre (BIMC). Its activities are of interest to: the preservation of the foundations of cultural and religious diversity; studies of cultural heritage; and the preservation of religious monuments using the potential of civil society.