Tea for two hundred in Tajikistan

By bne IntelliNews July 26, 2013

Clare Nuttall in Astana -

Tajikistan is about to get a new entry in the Guinness Book of Records when it opens the world's largest tea house in time for Independence Day on September 9. While more than a third of the country's population still live below the poverty line, a staggering $60m is being spent on the teahouse in Dushanbe.

Situated on the shores of Lake Komsomol, not far from central Dushanbe, the many domed teahouse - known as a choikhana in Tajikistan - will have a billiard hall, ballroom and presidential dining room, according to Eurasianet. At $60m, the cost is around 1% of Tajikistan's annual GDP.

It is just one of a growing number of prestige projects in the Tajik capital, many of them built by local business owners keen to impress President Emomali Rakhmon. Tajikistan has already taken the record for the world's tallest flagpole and the world's longest flag.

In the two decades since independence, other Central Asian states have also sought to make their mark through exotic architecture - the cities of Ashgabat and Astana being particular examples. Turkmenistan holds the record for the world's largest enclosed Ferris wheel, and Ashgabat has the highest density of white marble buildings. But unlike the Turkmen and Kazakh capitals, Dushanbe doesn't have constant flows of petrodollars to finance vanity projects, which include Central Asia's largest national library and mosque, in addition to the new tea house.

In 2012, the national library opened in Dushanbe, with 25 reading rooms over nine floors and room for 10m books. However, the $40m allocated to the library from the national budget was not enough to fill the shelves, and the library opened with just 2.5m books - despite a national campaign spearheaded by the ministry of education asking Tajiks to donate "unwanted" books. Still under construction is the region's largest mosque, which will have capacity for 115,000 worshippers. Qatar is providing 70% of the $100m construction costs, with the remaining $30m coming from the Tajik government.

It is not clear how much benefit these investments have for the Tajik population. According to Eurasianet, around half the 400 workers at the tea house are Chinese, despite chronic under-employment within Tajikistan.

The country is also the poorest economy in the former Soviet Union, despite a steady reduction in poverty rates in the last decade. World Bank data shows that the proportion of the population living below the poverty line has dropped from 72.4% in 2003 to 53.5% in 2007 and 46.7% in 2009. Tajik government data shows that as of 2012, the percentage of the population living on under $2.15 per day had fallen to 38.3%.

Related Articles

COMMMENT: Great challenges for Eurasia call for decisive solutions

Juha Kähkönen of the IMF - The Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) region continues to navigate a wave of external shocks – the slump in global prices of oil and other key commodities, the slowdown ... more

IMF calls for Central Asia to tighten monetary policy

Naubet Bisenov in Almaty -   Caucasus and Central Asian (CCA) countries need to tighten their monetary policy to anchor inflation expectations, but excess tightening may weaken financial ... more

COMMENT: Once I lived the life of a millionaire…

Peter Szopo of Erste Asset Management -   No, the title of this column is not the first line of the autobiography of an erstwhile emerging markets investor – although it could be. Somebody who ... more

Register here to continue reading this article and 2 more for free or purchase 12 months full website access including the bne Magazine for just $119/year.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address.
A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

To continue viewing our content you need to complete the registration process.

Please look for an email that was sent to with the subject line "Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have instructions on how to complete registration process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in case this communication was misdirected in your email system.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and magazine

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and monthly magazine, the leading source of business, economic and financial news and commentary in emerging markets.

Your subscription includes:
  • Full access to the bne content daily news and features on the website
  • Newsletters direct to your mailbox
  • Print and digital subscription to the monthly bne magazine
  • Digital subscription to the weekly bne newspaper

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

bne IntelliNews
$119 per year

All prices are in US dollars net of applicable taxes.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Register for free to read bne IntelliNews Magazine. You'll receive a free digital subscription.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address.
A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

IntelliNews Pro offers daily news updates delivered to your inbox and in-depth data reports.
Get the emerging markets newswire that financial professionals trust.

"No day starts for my team without IntelliNews Pro" — UBS

Thank-you for requesting an IntelliNews Pro trial. Our team will be in contact with you shortly.

Dismiss