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RED House Group Readings: Arab billionaire Khalaf Al Habtoor may run large development projects in Kazan - Tatarstan


Kazan, November 8, Tatar-inform, Mikhail Mironov:

The United Arab Emirates’s largest construction company Al Habtoor may implement large development projects in Kazan. The projects were on Monday presented to the company’s founder, one of the planet’s richest people Khalaf al Habtoor.

The Tatarstan President department of external relations, aide to Tatarstan President on international affairs Timur Akulov, Kazan executive committee deputy head Rustam Nigmatullin and Kazan’s vice mayor Oscar Prokopiev presented four projects devised by the Kazan-based Millennium Zilant City to Mr Al Habtoor. They include development of the right bank of the Kazanka river, construction of multitier parking lots, and two residential development projects.

Oleg Prokopiev told the guest most of the projects had been designed before the crisis, when bank credits had been available. Now the city’s management counts on large investors implementing the projects.

“I am visiting a beautiful country. Your country and people are very hospitable. I look forward to mutual cooperation, to benefit all the participants of the cooperation,” said Khalaf al Habtoor.

He went on to note his company would most carefully examine the offered projects. “I can say now we are interested in this kind of cooperation,” the businessman said.

According to the executive committee first deputy, Mr Al Habtoor was most interested in the Metropolis residential area project as the quickest and potentially the most profitable one. Resource-rich country offers ethnically and religiously divided Middle East a lesson in celebrating oneness instead of accentuating differences


Mr. Khalaf Al Habtoor wrote on November 19, 2010

Published by Gulf News

Tatarstan, a Shangri-La on the Volga

In today's global village, travel doesn't deliver as many surprises as it did 20 years ago. There is such a predictable sameness about so many capitals that travellers can be forgiven for waking up and momentarily wondering where they are. As a frequent business traveller, I thought I'd seen it all. I was wrong.

When I accepted an official invitation to visit from the oil and gas-rich Republic of Tatarstan, I had no preconceived ideas beyond the fact that its capital city Kazan stood on the banks of a river that flows into the mighty Volga. Drawing from past experience, I expected to be politely greeted by ministers before sitting down to dinner with everyone on their best behaviour making awkward small talk.

Instead, I was treated like a long-lost relative. Their smiles were genuine, their hearts were open and I was made to feel at home from the minute my plane touched down. When two people meet for the first time their chemistry either gels or it doesn't.

It's rare when individuals click from the first moment, but everyone from the President to ordinary men and women in the street exuded such warmth that I couldn't help liking them from the get-go. The Director of Foreign Affairs in the Presidential Office suggested we go for a walk. So we did, and as we strolled along the city streets passersby smiled, waved or stopped to greet us.

It was so refreshing to be around people who haven't adopted social masks to relate to others. Their hospitality reminded me of the way we Arabs once were before we leapt on the fast train. I was so relaxed I could almost have been among my own brothers and sisters.

Tatarstan's 53-year-old President Rustam Minnikhanov, a commodity expert and economist, is a great guy who comes over as intelligent and dynamic. When he's not dealing with affairs of state he flies his helicopter or plays sports. He is also a Rallycross driver and in 2006 he won the ‘Truck Category' of the UAE Desert Challenge driving a KaMaz, manufactured in his homeland.

President Minnikhanov couldn't have received my party more graciously. We met him in a ground-floor palace conference room where we engaged in a friendly 40-minute informal discussion before he showed me his office on the upper floor and was, later, courteous enough to walk with me out of the building.

It was clear that he cares deeply about his people's well-being. He must be doing a good job because his country is generally cited as a success story; its multi-ethnic, multi-religious citizenry benefit from low unemployment and enjoy increased prosperity thanks to their country's flourishing oil, chemical, engineering, aviation, automotive and textile industries.

Up-and-coming destination

He stressed that Tatarstan is a safe country that makes every visitor welcome and secure. Indeed, Kazan is Russia's up-and-coming destination after successful bids to host the Youth Olympic Games in 2013 and the CIS Summit. For the first time, this year, it has an independent exhibit at London's World Travel Market. There is so much for visitors to see and do.

I was bowled over by Kazan. My first impression was how organised and clean the city is; I didn't notice a single paper littering its wide boulevards and spacious squares.

Architecturally it is a mélange of old European grandeur, a Hollywood interpretation of One thousand and One Nights, Baroque and contemporary. Dominating the skyline are minarets, cupolas, spires and the city's historical Kremlin, nominated in 2000 as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Acknowledged as Russia's cultural capital, Kazan has 44 institutes of higher learning, museums, libraries, concert halls, and theatres, including an opera and ballet theatre which hosts an annual classical ballet festival in honour of the Tatars' best-known son Rudolf Nureyev.

Eating out was a real experience. I was invited for meals in some of the older established restaurants and felt like an actor in a 1940s or 50s movie. Their menus were so lavish and the surroundings so plush that they could have been dining rooms in a Tsar's palace.

The highlight of my trip was a visit to a magnificent mosque where the names of the prophets were inscribed on the walls. I was shown around by the mufti and the imam, both fluent in Arabic, and was surprised by the innovative way they teach young children the five pillars of Islam.

In a gallery annexed to the mosque children learn stories in the Quran with the aid of pictures, objects, dress-up clothing so they can easily relate to the ancient teachings. Kazan has 45 mosques in many architectural styles, including Europe's largest Kol Sharif that stands close to the magnificent Orthodox Annunciation Cathedral.

Our troubled, ethnically and religiously divided Middle East can draw important lessons from Tatarstan whose population of 3.7 million is made up of ethnic Tatars, Russians, Ukrainians, Azeris, Armenians, Uzbeks, Tajiks and others. The country is a magnificent example of ethnic and religious tolerance where all people live together in perfect harmony.

President Minnikhanov told me that his people are so integrated that the only way of distinguishing between people of different faiths is when "we go to pray. We are all brother and sisters," he said. If only we in the Arab world knew how to celebrate our oneness instead of accentuating our differences, this region would be a far better and more peaceful place. 

By Khalaf Al Habtoor, a businessman and chairman of Al Habtoor Group


Tatarstan Basic Facts

"The Republic of Tatarstan is a democratic constitutional state associated with the Russian Federation by the Constitution of the Russian Federation, Constitution of the Republic of Tatarstan and Treaty Between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Tatarstan "On Delimitation of Jurisdictional Subjects and Mutual Delegation of Authority between the State Bodies of the Russian Federation and the State Bodies of the Republic of Tatarstan", a subject of the Russian Federation. The sovereignty of the Republic of Tatarstan consists in full possession of the state power beyond the competence of the Russian Federation and powers of the Russian Federation in the sphere of shared competence of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Tatarstan."

Tatarstan is situated in the center of the Russian Federation on the East-European Plain at the confluence of the two greatest rivers - the Volga and the Kama. The overall territory of the Republic is 67,836.2 sq. km. The capital of the republic is Kazan.

Representatives of over 70 nationalities live in Tatarstan, Tatars and Russians being the most numerous. The official languages are Tatar and Russian. The total population is 3,773,800.

Tatarstan is one of the most economically developed subjects of the Russian Federation. Main resources include crude oil, land, and water resources.

The republic possesses high scientific and intellectual potential. Key industries are oil production and petrochemistry, aircraft industry, mechanical engineering and instrument-making.

Natural Resources

The main wealth of Tatarstan is crude oil. Its biggest oil deposits are the Romashkinskoye, Novo-Elkhovskoye, Pervomaiskoye and Bondyuzhskoye oil fields located in the Southeast and the Northeast of Tatarstan. The first industrial oil deposit (the Shugurovskoye) was discovered in July 1943; industrial exploitation started in September, 1946. In the whole period of oil production the total amount of oil extracted made up 2.6 bln. t. The current oil reserves of the Republic are still large (0.8-0.9 bln. t), though its substantial part is concentrated in medium and small deposits still awaiting their development. The largest deposits are nearly exhausted, e.g. the Romashkinskoye exhausted 83 per cent of its reserves, the Novo-Elkhovskoye - 69 per cent).

Along with crude oil, bradenhead gas is extracted in the amount of about 40 cu. m per ton of oil. There are good outlooks for involvement of natural bitumens into the economic turnover, since estimated reserves in the territory of the Republic make up 12.5 bln. t.

Among other fuel resources, Tatarstan possesses brown and black coal, combustible slates and peat. There are about 800 peat deposits with overall square of more than 35,000 hectares. In the territory of eastern regions the large coal deposits were discovered, but their industrial development is complicated by deepness of their occurrence. Reserves of combustible slates are available in the south-western part of the Republic. They can be of industrial importance in prospect.

The deposits of the Permian formation avail sediments of carbonate rocks, vast deposits of gypsum and other minerals used as construction materials. Among the biggest reserves are deposits of sand-gravel mix (246 mln. cu. m), loam (73.5 mln. cu. m), gypsum (72 mln. t), limestone and dolomite (66 mln. t), construction stone (35.3 mln. cu. m), bentonite clay (24.3 mln. t), clay for production of foamed clay (14.9 mln. cu. m), and 45 mln. cu. t. of mason's sand. Besides, large deposits of phosphorite, chalky sandstone, mineral water, therapeutic mud and components for production of cement.

Tatarstan, as no other republic or region, is rich in rivers. There are numerous lakes and underground waters. As noted above, the biggest rivers of the Republic are the Volga and the Kama and two confluents of the Kama river - the Vyatka and the Belaya. The annual flow of the four rivers makes 234 bln. cu.m per year. Besides, there are about 500 small rivers with length no less than 10 km and numerous brooks. Huge water resources are accumulated in two biggest reservoirs - the Kuibyshevskoye and the Nizhnekamskoye. There are also over 8,000 small lakes and ponds in the Republic. The Republic has substantial reserves of underground waters varying from highly mineralised water to slightly salted and fresh.



During its centuries-old history, Tatarstan has accumulated the richest experience of people of various nationalities and religions living together. It has become a tradition to pay special attention to safeguarding interethnic and interconfessional peace and accord.

There are 8 nationalities in Tatarstan the population of which is over 10 thousand people. Alongside with Tatars (52.9 percent) and Russians (39.5 percent) there are Chuvashes, Udmurts, Ukrainians, Mordvinians, Maris, Bashkirs, et al. During last years, the number of Azerbaidzhanians, Armenians, Tajiks, Uzbeks permanently residing in the republic increased.

source: Republic of Tatarstan official site.

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