His Excellency Dr. Zubaydullo Zubaydov
Ever since his arrival in Kuwait in January 2013, His Excellency Dr. Zubaydullo Zubaydov, Ambassador of Tajikistan to Kuwait, has been busy with one priority after another. First there were all the arrangements to be made for the setting up of the embassy here, following his appointment as Tajikistan’s first resident ambassador to Kuwait. Then soon after, in June 2013, there was the huge responsibility of preparing for a state visit to Kuwait by His Excellency Emomalii Rahmon, President of the State of Tajikistan and his delegation to Kuwait, at the invitation of the Amir of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
Immediately following the state-visit of the President, there were all the logistics of bringing to Kuwait the Tajik National Cultural Troupe as well as several artists and their works to participate in the 17th International Music Festival held in Kuwait. “To say I have been busy is an understatement,’ said the ambassador at the start of an exclusive interview with The Times Kuwait.
Ambassador Zubaydov goes on to narrate how during his two-day state visit, the President inaugurated the Tajik embassy in Kuwait, and also oversaw the signing of eight agreements on economic and cultural cooperation, investment and tourism promotion. This involved a lot of follow-up meetings with concerned ministers and their ministries, which the ambassador handled smoothly and efficiently. Now I am looking forward to taking our bilateral relations to the next level and fortifying cooperation in various fields said the envoy.
It is his calm and pleasant demeanor and proficiency that have seen this career diplomat rise rapidly in his country’s diplomatic echelons. Having graduated in Oriental studies from Tajikistan National University in 1983, Ambassador Zubaydov joined the diplomatic service in 1990, immediately after Tajikistan gained independence. He served in various capacities in his country’s foreign ministry, including as the head of the Protocol Department and as the first-ever chief of presidential protocol.
In 2007, Ambassador Zubaydov was posted as minister counselor to the Russian Federation and a year later was assigned as Tajikistan’s ambassador to Pakistan. In 2010, while serving as Ambassador to Pakistan, he was appointed as the non-resident Ambassador of Tajikistan to Kuwait. Ambassador Zubaydov recounts that during the Asian Cooperation Dialogue summit in Kuwait, his president took the decision to appoint a resident ambassador to Kuwait and he was the immediate choice.
Saying that he was honored to be appointed as ambassador to the friendly country of Kuwait, the diplomat added that he would do his utmost to establish a solid foundation for a life-long relationship between our two countries. The ambassador noted that bilateral relations have seen a big improvement since the establishment of the Tajik embassy in Kuwait. There have been several high-profile visits between the two countries and the number of Kuwaitis traveling to Tajikistan, on business and leisure has increased significantly.
“In October our Foreign Minister is expected to arrive in Kuwait at the head of a high-powered delegation that will include representatives from the tourism, banking and investment sectors, who would be exploring the possibilities of giving more impetus to the ties between our two countries in various domains. Likewise, Dr. Adel Al-Falah, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in Kuwait, is expected to visit Tajikistan to meet with his counterparts there and examine ways of further reinforcing our shared religious values and beliefs,” revealed the ambassador.
“Meanwhile, the Humanitarian advisor to His Highness the Amir, Dr. Abdullah Al-Maatouq, will head a delegation to Dushanbe, as part of the initiative to establish a large hospital complex in the Tajik capital that will provide specialized medical care to people in the entire region, said the diplomat.
He also disclosed that His Highness Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, the Prime Minister of Kuwait, is slated to pay an official visit to Tajikistan in late 2014, during which time it is hoped that Kuwait will officially open its embassy in the Tajik capital. Noting that in 2013 a delegation from Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had visited the Tajik capital to participate in a meeting of the Kuwaiti-Tajik Joint Economic Cooperation Committee, the envoy said that the follow-up to this meeting is expected to be held in Kuwait in 2015. The two countries already have several existing agreements that call for increasing cultural, educational and economic exchanges between the two countries.
On the economic side the ambassador asserted that Tajikistan had achieved transition from a planned to a market economy without substantial and protracted recourse to international aid. The GDP of Tajikistan grew at an average rate of 9.6 percent from 2000 to 2007, which improved Tajikistan’s position among other Central Asian countries. Pointing out that Tajikistan has immense investment potential the ambassador added that the country’s primary resources included aluminum production, agriculture, tourism, mining and hydro power.
The investment climate in Tajikistan is very conducive to entrepreneurs and several international companies from US, China and France have already set up joint ventures in our country said the ambassador. Saying that Kuwait has made some investments in his country, the diplomat added that this was mainly through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. Urging Kuwaiti businesses to explore the possibilities of investing in Tajikistan, the ambassador recalled that during his state visit to Kuwait in 2013, President Rahmon had expressed his desire to cement relations with Kuwait at various levels and had invited Kuwaiti investors to explore business opportunities in the Tajik market.
Elaborating on the major infrastructure developments since 2004, which have opened up land-locked Tajikistan to the rest of the world, the ambassador said: “The addition and reconstruction of a 2,500km road network, a new airport and several five-star hotels have opened up recently in time for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting that Tajikistan is hosting in a few days. Other infrastructure projects completed recently include the Anzab Tunnel, which was completed in 2007 and links the capital Dushanbe with the country’s north, access to which used to previously remain blocked by snow in winter. Similarly, the construction of the road bridge linking Afghanistan and Tajikistan in 2004 helped improve the country’s access to South Asia.
”In recent years Tajikistan has pursued agreements with Iran and Pakistan to gain port access in those countries via Afghanistan. In 2009, an agreement was made between Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to improve and build a 1,300 km highway and rail system connecting the three countries to Pakistan’s ports. And in 2012, the presidents of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Iran signed an agreement to construct roads and railways as well as oil, gas, and water pipelines to connect the three countries.
Pointing out that Tajikistan could become a major supplier of sustainable energy to the region by tapping into its vast hydro power potential the ambassador said, ”With thousands of rivers flowing through the country, especially major ones such as the Vakhsh and Panj, the government is focusing on attracting investment for hydroelectric projects.” A new dam, higher than the country’s Nurek Dam, currently the world’s highest dam, is being planned as part this strategy to produce electricity for internal consumption as well as for exports. Other energy resources include sizable coal deposits and smaller reserves of natural gas and petroleum.
Going on to laud the existing cultural ties between the two countries, the envoy emphasized the importance of such exchanges in strengthening bilateral relations. He underscored the fact that shared cultural affinities and similar religious values of the two countries had helped build relations and cement friendships on the people to people level.
The ambassador recollected that in June 2013, the embassy, in association with the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL), had held an exhibition on Tajik traditional products and photography. The exhibition was held on the sidelines of the 17th International Music Festival in Kuwait, which also witnessed performances by the National cultural troupe from Tajikistan. The troupe displayed traditional Tajik dances, songs and music, which were well-received by the Kuwaiti public.
Clarifying on the plans to further bilateral cultural exchanges, the envoy said that the embassy would be holding Tajik cultural shows in the future, as part of various celebrations in Kuwait. The ambassador also divulged that 13 artists from Kuwait would soon be traveling to Tajikistan to film a comedy based on the legendary Hoja Nasreddin ‘Afandi’, the 13th century Sufi satirist, statesman and philosopher of Central Asia. Education is high on the priorities of Tajikistan, with an estimated 99.5 percent literacy rate and several renowned universities and educational institutions, the country looks forward to exchanging students and academicians between Tajikistan and Kuwait.
Tourism infrastructure is another area where Tajikistan welcomes Kuwaiti investment said the ambassador. With an ancient history that encompassed several ethnic groups who melded to form modern Tajikistan, the country has scores of mausoleums, mosques, forts, and settlements dotting the countryside. Also, with more than 90 percent of the land covered by mountains, and 60 percent of Central Asian waters coming from Tajikistan, the flower-carpeted valleys, breathtaking plateaus, extensive national parks and nature reserves, make trekking or riding through the country an exciting and inimitable experience.
“The natural spas and health resorts of Tajikistan are internationally famous and many world dignitaries frequent these venues regularly. Among the most renowned institutions are the 300-bed spa Khoja Obi Garam, situated in a picturesque valley less than 50km north of the capital Dushanbe and the sanatorium ‘Garm Chashma’, located 35km from Khorog city in Gorno Badachshan region at an altitude of 3,000 meters. The thermal waters that flow at the Spa have a radioactive steam that has high healing powers for various cardiovascular and musculoskeletal ailments, while the sanatorium treats all kinds of skin diseases, especially psoriasis” said the envoy.
“With several airlines offering direct flights from Dubai and Istanbul to Tajikistan it hardly takes more than three-and-half hours to reach Dushanbe from Kuwait,” noted the diplomat. Also with simplified visa procedures for Kuwaitis, within a day at the embassy, or direct visa on arrival at Dushanbe, the ambassador hoped more travelers from Kuwait would begin visiting his country.
Even though we opened our embassy recently we are working tirelessly to attain our objectives of strengthening bilateral relations in all fields and cementing our relations with the people and government of Kuwait said Ambassador Zubaydov in conclusion.