Inauguration ceremony of the Dushanbe Serena hotel

Mawlana Hazar Imam addressing guests at the inauguration of the Dushanbe Serena Hotel. Gary Otte


Your Excellency, President Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan
Your Excellency, Davlatali Saidov, Chairman of the State Committee on Investment
and Management of State Property
Honorable Ministers
Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to begin my comments this morning by thanking His Excellency the President for the support he has given this institution and having told us that it will remain fully occupied for the next two years! And I should warn our financing agencies that I will use that excuse to negotiate even harder than before for good terms for our future projects in Tajikistan!

We join today at a special ceremony of inauguration and dedication - and I am so pleased that we can share this moment together with all of you.

It is a time for thinking and talking about the exciting future, as we launch a new facility that will be central to the growth of this community and this country in the days and years to come.

But I am also thinking today about the past - both the near past and the more distant past which are tied so intimately with today’s ceremony - and with all the good things which we hope will come from it.

The spirit of our project, after all, 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 - coming from opposite ends of the world as it was known at that time. And these travellers lived in some of the most magnificent caravanserai ever built and they constructed some of the world's most beautiful monuments: Samarkand, Khiva, Bokhara are iconic names. If we were using 21st century language to describe what was happening back then, we might have seen this place as one of the very first links in early processes of “globalization”, although there existed at that time, no credit cards with which to pay for the Syrian, Turkish and other caravanserai.

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.

As that process develops, we hope that the new beautiful Serena Hotel will reflect both the spirit of this country's ancient past and be a welcoming haven with professional staff for the global players of the coming century - as they flow in increasing numbers to this lovely and exciting part of the world. Just think of who may be coming here - traders, bankers, developers and business executives, government officials and diplomats, the leaders of civil society, travellers, vacationers, artists and writers, people from many backgrounds and from the farthest reaches of our world. All of them will learn, as they visit, about the exciting potential of this country and this region, and some of them will wish even to settle here in some way. Is this not exactly what happened at the time of the Silk Route?

Thinking of the past, I recollect the important dates of Tajik history. Twenty years ago, independence; sixteen years ago, an agreement between the Aga Khan Development Network and the government of Tajikistan in order to contribute to the development of this country. That agreement has enabled us to share as partners in the work of developing Tajikistan and improving the quality of life of the people of this country. We focused not only on building this hotel, but we worked on rural development, health and education at different levels, the production of energy and including the University of Central Asia and the Ismaili Centre here in Dushanbe.

What is the purpose? The purpose is to bring multiple-sector support to the development process of the countries in which we work in.

On a day like this, we look to the future and we seek to set out benchmarks and goals to achieve and in doing that we work with partners and I want to take this occasion - and I can see our partners in the audience- to thank them for enabling our work In Tajikistan.

I also want to salute especially the architects and designers, the contractors, the project managers and all those workers who gave of their skills and energies to realize this project. I am pleased that my brother - and yes he is my brother-- who has worked so closely with all of these people, is joining me in expressing these thanks - speaking as well for the parent organization under which the Serena Group operates, the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development.

I hope that those of you who do decide occasionally to stay here, will find that what we have tried to achieve, will inshallah, be achieved.

Thank you.