“The spirit of our project,” said Mawlana Hazar Imam, addressing the guests gathered for the inauguration in the hotel's Millat banquet room, “reaches all the way back to the days of the ancient Silk Route – when this region was a key connecting point between people from many different cultures, languages and ethnicities.”
“It is in this context that many of us see a new future for Dushanbe and Tajikistan as important players again on the global stage,” said Hazar Imam.
The $58 million Dushanbe Serena Hotel offers 85 luxury rooms and suites, and incorporates conference and shopping facilities, restaurants, a state of the art gymnasium, spa and swimming pool on the rooftop. It is part of the broader work of the Aga Khan Development Network, which includes a range of non-profit development activities throughout Tajikistan, from microfinance banks to a campus of the University of Central Asia, and select commercial investments – including the Dushanbe Serena and Pamir Energy, a hydroelectricity project – which are designed to create the infrastructure for economic development. At the peak of its construction, the hotel employed over 300 Tajik nationals, and currently has a contingent of close to 200 staff.
The hotel's contemporary architecture draws on Tajikistan's rich cultural heritage. The signature inspiration is the chaikhana – the traditional tea pavilion with its high slender column structure, vibrantly hand-painted ceilings and historic carved masharabiyya wooden doors. The chaikhana opens to a view of the garden, with a central water channel in the tradition of a chahar-bagh.
“My hope is that from the etching on the glass of this building to the intricate paintings on the walls and the designs and decor throughout the hotel right down to the uniforms of our staff we will have showcased Tajik motifs and colours and this country's culture in a true and authentic form,” said Prince Amyn, in his address during the ceremony. He underlined the intention “to position the Dushanbe Serena as the flagship hotel property in this country, combining Tajik design with traditional Tajik warmth and hospitality, providing the highest levels and quality of service to international or foreign visitors and tourists as also to the citizens of Tajikistan themselves.”
“We are all the children of mixed historical pasts, some of which pasts we like more, some less,” noted Prince Amyn. “But it is in its totality our heritage, it informs our present and acceptance of all of it is necessary to guide our future.”