Mintimer Shaimiyev: “Care about people generates love and respect for one’s native land”

A Tatarstan public space development programme got the Aga Khan Award for Architecture

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture award ceremony took place in the M. Jalil Tatar Opera and Ballet Theatre on 13 September. This year six projects that reached the final have got it, including a Tatarstan large-scale programme for the development of public spaces. The winner projects will split the prize money equal to $1 million. Read about the award ceremony in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

“Such a fashionable word as tolerance has never been understood here — people just live this way, altogether, in peace and harmony”

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture award ceremony, which took place in the M. Jalil Tatar Opera and Ballet Theatre, gathered a lot of high-ranking guests — from Aga Khan IV himself and first Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiyev to Natalia Fishman-Bekmambetova with her spouse.

Head of the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation Eleonora Mitrofanova was first to deliver a speech. According to her, it was very symbolic that the ceremony took place precisely in Tatarstan.

“It is an amazing region that develops in leaps and bounds. It is a republic that has included two exceptional sites — Bolgar and Sviyazhsk — in the [UNESCO] World Heritage Site List in recent time. This has been possible mainly thanks to the republic’s first president’s efforts as well as the people of Tatarstan — diligent, multi-ethnic people who live in harmony, friendship and peace despite having a lot of religions and nationalities. It seems to me that such a fashionable word as tolerance has never been understood here — people just live this way, all together, in peace and harmony,” Eleonora Mitrofanova said.

Prince Aga Khan IV, in turn, noted in his speech that the award ceremony gathered “a unique group of people in a unique place and for unique purposes”. He also stressed that one of the key features of the award was that it notes projects not only for architectural qualities but for improving people’s lives. So he is convinced that architecture influences the quality of life, and we all have repeatedly heard that we form the environment, and it forms us, he said.

It should be noted that the programme of the event that consisted of mainly welcome speeches and precisely the award ceremony was well mixed with music performances. So New Music chamber orchestra chaired by Anna Gulishambarova with the composition Sabantuy performed in front of the guests. Composer Jasser Haj Youssef who played a samai composition written by him as early as 1999 appeared on the stage later.

And a performance of honourable artist of Russia, Mariinsky Theatre soloist Akhed Agadi with Tukay’s aria from The Poet’s Love opera by Kazan composer Rezeda Akhiyarova was a real surprise to the ceremony’s guests. After the final chords of the aria calmed down, and a big round of applause finished, first Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiyev headed towards Agadi to shake his hand in front of all people and express his respect also because the opera singer learnt the Tatar language to perform this composition.

“We do this job with all the people from our heart and for our heart”

Before all six 2019 award laureates stepped on the stage, the first Tatarstan president gave a speech in front of all people. Mintimer Shaimiyev reminded that successfully developing and multi-ethnic Tatarstan was more often becoming a stage for big international forums hosted in Russia. According to him, the confirmation of the correctness of the course for the republic’s transformation for the human’s good is outlined here.

“We base on the rich historical and cultural heritage of our people. We carefully treat the conservation of the interethnic and interreligious peace and harmony, the revival of spirituality — what else can be more valuable nowadays? Both Muslim holy sites in ancient Bolgar and Orthodox sites in the island city of Sviyazhsk and the Kazan Kremlin are equally precious for us. These three historical sites were included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site List. As I have repeatedly said, we do this job with all the people from our heart and for our heart,” the first Tatarstan president said.

Mintimer Shaimiyev also noted that many projects implemented in Tatarstan are aimed at settling the most topical issues of the population. They include programmes of eradication of dilapidated dwelling, overall gasification and informatisation of settlements and road construction.

“Our president’s initiative in 2015 became a decent continuation of our aspiration — the programme on development of public spaces. Now all big cities and most Tatarstan districts have beautiful parks and squares, places where everyone will find a thing to do, where it is comfortable and safe.

It is quite a complicated and responsible work where we can’t do without professionals. For this reason, we constantly train specialists, work with local masters and businesses, which allows effectively using resources, developing the local economy and creating new jobs. A young, ambitious team working for Tatarstan’s good does this all.

A huge job has been done in the last five years: over 330 embankments, alleys, squares, parks have been built, works on 60 sites are coming to an end. The creation of comfortable public spaces is, first of all, care about people, and it generates love and respect for one’s native land,” Mintimer Shaimiyev noted.

“A high appraisal of the multifaceted activity”

380 projects from 39 countries participated in the competition, and 20 projects from 16 countries fought for the victory in the final. The Tatarstan programme turned out to be the only Russian project to reach the final during 42 years of the award’s existence.

Besides our republic, such developments as the revival of the city of Muharraq in Bahrein, a centre for swamplands in Sharjah, a Palestinian museum, Arkadia educational project and a lecture hall at Alioune Diop University.

We should note that all members of the winner teams arrived in Tatarstan to participate in the award ceremony. They got certificates directly from Prince Aga Khan and Mintimer Shaimiyev. By the way, the first president received a certificate the republic got for the development of public spaces. He was also awarded a “special certificate” of the Aga Khan international award.

“It is a great honour for us to get the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in line with five projects from Bangladesh, Palestine, the UAE, Senegal and Bahrein. We sincerely congratulate them on this big victory. Your Majesty, we evaluate this award as a high appraisal of the multifaceted activity carried out in the republic in people’s interests,” Mintimer Shaimiyev thanked the prince.

By Lina Sarimova. Photo:

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