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  • Front entrance of the newly inaugurated Dushanbe Serena Hotel in Tajikistan.
    AKDN / Gary Otte
President Rahmon and Aga Khan inaugurate Dushanbe Serena hotel

Tajik culture and tradition featured in modern hotel

Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 1 November 2011 - His Excellency Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, and His Highness the Aga Khan, founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), today inaugurated the Dushanbe Serena Hotel.

The ceremony, which was held in the hotel’s Millat banquet room, was attended by Prince Amyn Aga Khan, Executive Director of AKFED, Prince Rahim Aga Khan, eldest son of His Highness the Aga Khan and dignitaries from the government, development and tourism sectors.

“The opening of the Dushanbe Serena Hotel in the centre of the capital, the architectural designs of which unite our cultural heritage with the modern aspects of design, is a remarkable achievement,” said President Rahmon, expressing his gratitude to His Highness the Aga Khan, agencies of the AKDN and “all the architects, designers, engineers and all those who were involved and participated actively in construction of this modern structure.”

The Aga Khan said that he hoped that the hotel would be “a welcoming haven" for the “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”. Evoking the history of the Silk Route, he remarked that “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?”

Located at the heart of the country’s capital on Rudaki drive, the hotel is part of the broader work of the AKDN, which includes a range of non-profit development activities throughout Tajikistan, from microfinance banks to a campus of the University of Central Asia, and selected commercial investments, including the Serena hotel and a hydroelectricity project, Pamir Energy, which are designed to create the infrastructure for economic development.

The hotel, which cost $58m to build, employed over 300 Tajik nationals at the peak of its construction period. It currently employs close to 200 staff, ninety-three percent of whom are Tajik and indirectly supports some 300 people. The Tajik government, Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (DEG) and the International Finance Corporation partnered with the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) in the construction of the Dushanbe Serena.

Also addressing guests at the ceremony, Prince Amyn 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.”

Placing emphasis on research which had been carried out on the country’s artistic idioms, and cultural expressions in an effort to “escape the foreign architectural idiom that characterizes so much of the architectural landscape currently admired elsewhere,” he remarked, “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. We have been greatly assisted by the collaboration of many talented, hardworking local artists. Their enthusiasm and creativity have inspired us. They are a credit to this country.”

The hotel combines contemporary architecture with Tajikistan’s rich traditional cultural heritage. The signature inspiration is the Choekhanna – the traditional Tea Pavilion with its high slender column structure, vibrantly hand-painted ceilings and historic carved masharabiyya wooden doors. The Choekhanna opens to a view of the garden, with a central water channel in the tradition of a char bagh. Each of the hotel’s interior spaces is a reminder of the country’s rich cultural tradition. Local crafts such as carved plaster, or Ganj, Ikat or Abr textile patterns, suzani needlework in silk textile, wall paintings by local artists, carpets with colourful floral motifs and vibrant hand-painted ceilings are designed to create the warmth of Tajik hospitality.

Designed by renowned Canadian architects and interior design firm Le Groupe Arcop, the Dushanbe Serena Hotel offers 85 luxury rooms and suites as well as 10 long-stay serviced apartments and 10 office spaces, and incorporates conference and shopping facilities, restaurants, state of the art gymnasium, spa and swimming pool on the rooftop.

Serena Hotels builds hotel capacity in underserved regions. It has built hotels in East Africa and Pakistan and more recently in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. As part of AKFED’s development ethos, Serena is both a commercial enterprise and a development project. The hotels are designed to be engines of economic growth through local employment and the development of human resources, sourcing and the generation of tax revenues. From its beginnings, Serena has also stressed cultural and environmental sensitivity, for which it has received a number of prizes. Its current portfolio comprises 34 hotels, resorts and safari lodges in ten countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Syria (under development), Zanzibar, Rwanda and Uganda.

For more information, please contact:

Sulhiya Khaidarova
Sales and Marketing Manager
Dushanbe Serena Hotel
14 Rudaki Avenue, 734013 Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Email: Mobile: (992) 93 577 01 70
Semin Abdulla
Senior Communications Officer
Aga Khan Development Network
60270 Gouvieux, France
Tel: +33 3 44 58 40 00
Dushanbe : +992 93 500-82-94


His Highness the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims, comprised of ethnically and culturally diverse peoples living in over 25 countries around the world. A Harvard graduate in Islamic history, the Aga Khan succeeded his grandfather as Imam of the Ismailis in 1957. He is the founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private development agencies working to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia and the Middle East. The Network’s nine agencies work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of their gender, origin or religion and the underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for philanthropic activity is in excess of US$300 million.

The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED)’s mission is to build sustainable enterprises that contribute to economic development and create jobs in regions that are in need of foreign direct investment. It operates as a network of affiliates with more than 90 separate project companies employing more than 30,000 people and is active in 15 countries in Asia and Africa: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Senegal, Tajikistan, Tanzania, and Uganda.