DUSHANBE, October 30, Asia-Plus - His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims, today joined President Emomali Rahmonov and Dushanbe Mayor Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloyev in a groundbreaking ceremony for a five-star Serena Hotel in Dushanbe.  

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) will fund this project costing US$25 million.  

A nine-story hotel will be located in the area of some 11,000 square meters in the center of Dushanbe, in the place of former shoe factory, opposite Vatan Cinema.  

The hotel is expected to have 120 rooms, flexible office space of 1,250 square meters, banquet hall for 200 persons, rooftop restaurant for 100, coffee shop with sidewalk caf?, conference chamber, meeting rooms, shopping areas, business center with high-speed internet, rooftop swimming pool and rooftop health club.  

The hotel is expected to be finished in the spring 2008.   

Telling the groundbreaking ceremony, President Rahmonov that it is the fourth world-class in Dushanbe, construction of which has started this year.  “The construction of the fifth hotel is planned to start next year,” Rahmonov said.   

The president said  that tomorrow, His Highness the Aga Khan and he will leave for Gorno Badakhshan to inaugurate a bridge across the Panj River in the Ishkashim district.  In Khorog, they will also visit the site of the future campus of the University of Central Asia (UCA) and participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for another hotel.  

Rahmonov highly appraised a role of AKDN in development of Tajikistan’s economy, noting that the organization supports implementation of projects in all regions of the republic.

According to him, more than 53 million somonis (equivalent to US$15.6 million) have been provided for the construction of the Ismaili Center in Dushanbe, which is expected to be finished in September 2007.  

For his part, His Highness the Aga Khan telling the ceremony said that Serena Hotel is the latest achievement of architectural thought and expressed the hope that this initiative will advance tourism development throughout Tajikistan.  He also said Serena Hotels operate hotels and resorts in Kenya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait and other countries.    

Dushanbe Mayor Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloyev telling the ceremony noted that during today’s talks Prince Karim Aga Khan IV and he reached an agreement on construction of a new school and rehabilitation of the road from the Saadi Sherozi Street to the Bobojon Ghafurov Street.

A total cost of projects implemented in Tajikistan under financial support of ADKN exceeds US$100 million and humanitarian aid provided by AKDN to Tajikistan has amounted to more than 180 US dollars.