TAIF: ‘Any achievements should work for the good of Russia’
What has been done by TAIF Group to raise the quality of life in the republic and what social issues and problems have already been solved
Realnoe Vremya continues its series of reports about what social projects aimed to develop the republic TAIF Group has invested $9.5 billion throughout its activity in. In previously published parts, we have already talked about billions of investments in construction programmes, how TAIF Group implemented a project providing Nizhnekamsk with clean drinking water, how heating and electrical energy tariffs in Tatarstan residents’ utility bills remained unchanged for a long time due to TAIF’s investments, what money was allocated to update and build new roads in Tatarstan. Read about as important social investments as those already enumerated in the third part of the cycle.
To live with pleasure
What does this mean? To do what you love, to be able to get a decent reward for your labour, education and career development, live in comfortable conditions, breath clean air, walk along improves public spaces, do sport and receive quality medical services…To make sure this is possible, it is necessary to put effort and spend money. Socially responsible companies such as TAIF Group don’t limit their participation in solving social problems to the payment of necessary tax duties and making payments throughout their activity but also actively invest in projects aimed to make life in the republic and the country much better and the environment cleaner using their own money. Should we be surprise that TAIF Group won numerous republican and federation environmental competitions year after year. Clearly, it won’t be possible to talk about all of them in one journalist report. However, we can about completed bright and notable projects.
Workers of Nizhnekamskneftekhim started to improve a 10-ha empty area between Mira Avenue and the Resurrection of the Christ Church as early as 2006 using TAIF Group’s money, which was later called the Petrochemists’ Park. Due to the crisis in 2008-2009, the works somewhat slowed down but didn’t stop. Road construction, tree and bush planting went on. There was an interesting moment: the park was officially opened only in 2011, but it managed to become one of Tatarstan residents’ favourite leisure sites long before the ceremony.
By Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s 50th jubilee, TAIF Group allocated around 60 million rubles to improve the Nikolay Lemayev Square in Nizhnekamsk. Another 40 million rubles were spent to improve pedestrian zones and a territory near Neftekhim Arena ice palace.
Restoration works of the Swan Lake system near Kazan became one of the largest environmental projects, moreover, on the national scale. The works started in 2014 with environmental exploration and continued with lake rehabilitation and deepening, equipping their bottom with a special protective three-layer screen and filling it with water. TAIF JSC and Kazanorgsintez PJSC managed to treat, deepen and fill the dying lakes with water using the latest technologies.
A very sophisticated scheme resembling a system of communicating vessels was used to fill the complex of lakes with water: water is supplied to the Swan Lakes from Emerald Lake (Editor’s note: Yudino open-pit mining area whose developed was stopped in the 80s of the last century) through a deliberately laid 1.5-km pipe. It is symbolic that around 1.5 million of cubic metres of water was needed to fill the Swan Lakes. Ecologists’ preliminary evaluation showed that the being a “donor” wouldn’t harm the Emerald Lake because this lake had a hydraulic connection with the Kuybyshev Water Reservoir and would naturally compensate for the losses.
TAIF Group invested over 250 million rubles in the programme that doesn’t have analogues in contemporary Russian history. To the joy of numerous holidaymakers, the water area rose five times — to 36 hectares. By the way, the Swan Park was recognised as one of the best in Eurasian Park Awards nomination of International Large Urban Parks Awards.
Works at the Pine Grove started in 2014, which is close to the Chemists’ Culture Centre. The overgrown area that fairly caused concerns among people walking there because of died trees and those that were about to collapse also transformed in less than a year thanks to TAIF Groups’ efforts. Dead leaves were removed, new trees and bushes were planted.
Illuminated lanes and benches were equipped for the comfort of holidaymakers. Athletes obtain sports sites and a yoga area, children did a playground and a zone for calm family holiday was created not far from them. 120 million rubles were invested in the transformation of the park by TAIF Group.
TAIF Group didn’t stop there, and an old adjacent church yard was improved, the Chemists’ Culture Centre had a major repair soon. Updated Sintez swimming pool — the home area of the namesake and one of Russia’s strongest water polo teams — opened its doors in 2019. But we will tell you about this in the next part of the cycle.
Bigger works started on a slope near Kazan National Culture Centre leading to the Kazanka River. Nearly 18,000 of grass alone was laid on the slops, while the total improved area surpassed 30,000 square metres. Almost 2,000 tonnes of different litter had to be removed from the territory, weeds needed to be pulled out, the soil had to be strengthened with the help of a special geogrid and 6,000 lorries with earth needed to be brought, trees and bushes had to be planted then and install irrigation systems… Also, pedestrian lanes and a driveway to underground parking were installed, illumination posts were placed.
The wild forest hiding a real landfill transformed into a truly beautiful nature site thanks to TAIF Group’s efforts and immediately became one of the most visited leisure areas where almost every guest of the Tatarstan capital rushes to take a memorable photo.
“Thanks to TAIF for not only building this complex, but also improving the surrounding area as a whole. Including the waterside. I am sure that this place will be a worthy decoration of our city,'' noted Rustam Minnikhanov who visited the improved territory.
“For us, it was very important to create not just a beautiful landscape, but first of all a comfortable and cozy environment for people to come here with pleasure, enjoy walks, admire the fascinating panorama of our city,'' Albert Shigabutdinov stressed in response.
TAIF Group has already invested 157 million rubles in the transformation of the abandoned hill into today’s beauty, while the works haven’t yet finished. A family leisure area — Children Park — will appear not far from the Tatarstan National Library right on the embankment, in the lower part of the slope. Children Park is thought to become a green oasis with multi-level landscape, a children playground for different ages and a pavilion where there will be held lectures, exhibitions, master classes and other different events. In summer, time can be spent at the inner yard and watch concerts hosted in an amphitheatre. Now the territory’s project is being completed according to the Tatarstan rais’ task.
A deficit of parking lots is a headache and one of the biggest road problems of every big city. Modern multi-storey underground car park for nearly a thousand cars equipped with car washing and a complex of e-car charging stations appeared in the centre of the Tatarstan capital in 2019 as a gift by the 100th anniversary of the TASSR thanks to TAIF Group.
The fact that Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, Chairman of the Tatarstan State Council Farid Mukhametshin, Tatarstan Premier Minister Alexey Pesoshin and Kazan Mayor Ilsur Metshin participated in the opening ceremony of the venue means how important and long-awaited this even was.
“In the centre of Kazan, there is the problem with parking: it is nowhere to park a car. This is a huge inconvenience to residents and tourists. Today, thanks to TAIF Group, we have a beautiful modern, convenient and in demand parking for almost a thousand cars,” Rustam Minnikhanov stressed then.
“I am happy that our city, our republic have such socially responsible companies that find a way and improve the life for the better,” Kazan Mayor Ilsur Metshin talked about this even in an interview with Realnoe Vremya.
The project cost around 2 billion rubles. “A Grove a Year” is not a beautiful metaphor but a fact, companies that are part of TAIF annually plant tens of thousands of trees. It is impossible to count how many trees have been planted in Group’s history.
TAIF Group pays as huge attention to the cleanliness of water resources as it does to green plants. In June 2017, TAIF-NK JSC and Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov launched renovated local treatment facilities.
The uniqueness of the technology allows removing 99.99% of oil products and any other pollutants of industrial sewage coming to the treatment facilities from the production sites of the oil refinery.
TAIF-NK became the first enterprise in Russian history to return 100% of all sewage to the production, thus creating a “closed water consumption cycle.”
Some can say that it is a production-related project. Both yes and now. One can simply comply with production eco-friendliness requirements or simply outsource sewage treatment and get rid of the problem. But everything is different in the case of TAIF Group: it is a responsible approach to a truly important issue for the sake of a careful attitude to the environment.
Before the end of the renovation, sewage of TAIF-NK JSC and as well as other enterprises of Nizhnekamsk’s industrial zone (around 60 enterprises) as well as urban sewage after preliminary treatment used to go to Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s treatment facilities. Today NKNK’s biological treatment facilities can receive up to 213,000 cubic metres a day.
“We did a big job, the number of Nizhnekamsk citizens’ complaints reduced, and it is one of the results of the renovation of the Biological Treatment Facilities,” Tatarstan Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of Tatarstan Alexander Shadrikov who visited the facility stressed.
TAIF JSC shareholders supported the necessity of this project. In 2019, Nizhnekamskneftekhim fully completed the large-scale renovation of the Biological Treatment Facilities. The project entire Nizhnekamsk was interested in cost over 3 billion rubles. All the money belongs to TAIF Group. The company annually transferred more than 300 million rubles a year to maintain the facility.
Today the water that goes back to natural after being treated in the facilities is much cleaner than the water taken from natural water bodies for production.
Academicians of the Russian Academy of Sciences visited NKNK’s Biological Treatment Facilities in 2022 and were impressed with what they saw:
“I came here in the 1980s and 90s, and I understand that what is happening today is a very important positive step not only for the development of Nizhnekamskneftekhim, but also for the city as a whole. I would like to note that the ecological situation in the city has changed for the better with the reconstruction of the BTF,” said Oleg Sinyashin, head of the scientific direction Chemistry of the Kazan Scientific Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
“Very strong impressions. The problem of absorption of volatile hydrocarbons has been solved at the highest level," noted Aziz Muzafarov, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Chemical Sciences.
Today the NKNK Biological Treatment Facilities continue their improvement by SIBUR-RT united company. In August 2022, plans to modernise a sewage pre-treatment unit and UV filtration devices in the sewage treatment unit were announced. An eco-friendly gas boiler was put into operation at the Biological Treatment Facilities in November 2022.
A large-scale job to improve the region’s environment continues: every enterprise of TAIF Group regularly adopts and implements programmes including hundreds of measures aimed to improve the air, the cleanliness of drinking water and water in Tatarstan water bodies — for the prosperity of the republic. Their total costs have reached tens of billions of rubles in Group’s history. This money is invested in the future of people living in Tatarstan.
Investment in preservation of historical heritage and culture
TAIF Group’s contribution to projects designed to revive, preserve and carefully treat cultural and historical heritage sites, organise urban space and create cultural and leisure centres is huge.
The light towers of Qul Sharif Mosque going up to the sky are seen from afar. There are eight towers, altogether they symbolise the biggest centres of Volga Bulgaria. The building of the Muslim temple that harmonically fits in the ensemble of the Kazan Kremlin seems to have always been here. Meanwhile, the first mosque in this place was destroyed as early as 1552 during the assault of the capital of the Khanate of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible’s troops.
Mintimer Shaimiyev proposed the idea of recreating a mosque in this place and name it after the religious leader of Kazan in the 16th century Sayyid Qul Sharif. A decree was signed in 1995. Qul Sharif opened its doors for believes 10 years later, on 24 June 2005, on the eve of Kazan’s 1000th anniversary.
The mosque restoration cost topped 400 million rubles, most of them sum is donations. Over 40,000 citizens and organisations made their contribution. TAIF Group companies are among big benefactors.
The building of the Governor’s Palace and a 16th-century architectural landmark Assumption Cathedral were restored there, on the territory of the Kazan Kremlin, with the help of TAIF Group.
In 2010, Mintimer Shaimiyev announced the creation of Renaissance republican fund whose goal was to preserve the republic’s cultural and historical heritage, which is often of national and global meaning.
The revival of two holy site became one of the first tasks: the Orthodox island town of Sviyazhsk and ancient town Bolgar, which has a special meaning for Muslims not only in Tatarstan but also Russia in general as a place where Islam was voluntarily adopted as official religion by Volga Bolgars at state level on the territory of modern Russia.
“TAIF is a Group of Companies whose managers and staff don’t forget, know and appreciate the history of their people. I have to note that TAIF GC was one of the first to joint the project Culture Heritage of Tatarstan: Ancient Town of Bolgar and Island Town of Sviyazhsk, in June 2010. The group of companies did works in island town of Sviyazhsk. A complex of public buildings constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was restored in May 2011 using their own effort and money,” Mintimer Shaimiyev told Realnoe Vremya in an interview.
Also, TAIF Group allocated money to buy and installed special exhibition and multimedia equipment at the exhibition Mystery of Sviyazhsk Land on the territory of historical wealth.
“For us, it was a unique chance of touching the priceless wealth of history, making our contribution to the revival of historical and architectural landmark,” noted Albert Shigabutdinov during the museum’s opening ceremony.
The Bulgar land annually hosts hundreds of thousands of guests. Works on the restoration of historical sites were underway on this ancient land just recently, guests had to settle for a tent camp or locals’ hospitality.
Then the construction of a five-star hotel named after Bolgar poet and philosopher Qul Gali started. The first stone was laid into the foundation of the unique complex in 2015, which resembles 14th-century Bolgarian White Chambers. The hotel welcomed its first guests as early as 2018.
Those who already managed to evaluate services of the republic’s unique five-star hotel outside Kazan agree that this is an amazing combination of oriental luxury and revived history.
The White Mosque and Russia’s unique Islamic Academy were created and built with TAIF Group companies’ active involvement.
On 21 July 2016, on the celebration day of the Virgin May Icon in Kazan, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill blessed the foundation place the Virgin Mary Icon of Kazan Cathedral that was restored according to an initiative launched Renaissance republican fund and its founder — State Adviser to Tatarstan, First President of the republic Mintimer Shaimiyev.
A dedicated decree was signed by Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikanov. With TAIF Group’s active involvement, which was the main sponsor of the unique project of returning the lost holy landmark to the Orthodox Christian world, works on the restoration of the cathedral kicked off.
A cross started to shine on the cupula of the restored church in June 2018. On 21 July 2021, Patriarch Kirill who came to Tatarstan blessed the restored cathedral. TAIF Group invested over half a billion rubles in this socially important project. TAIF JSC Board Chairman Albert Shigabutdinov received the Russian Orthodox Church’s 3rd Degree Order of Glory and Honour from Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill for a special contribution to the restoration of the holy Orthodox temple. And the whole staff of TAIF JSC received a letter of gratitude from the Tatarstan president.
TAIF Group has many restored and revived historical heritage sites under its belt. It is Kekin House in Kazan, the Merchant Bank’s building on Musa Jalil Street (now Avers Bank is located there), an exquisite sample of urban architecture of former Poperechno-Lyadskaya and Staro-Gorshechnaya Streets… The preservation of intangible heritage also finds active support from Group’s companies. For instance, the organisation of national Sabantuy festival and other bright and significant events linked with the history and religious heritage of peoples living in the Republic of Tatarstan and Russia.
Throughout TAIF Group’s history, according to modest estimates, over 8 billion rubles, or nearly a quarter of a billion of US dollars at the average annual exchange rate have been allocated to restore, repair, revive historical, cultural and religious landmarks as well as a careful attitude to the intangible cultural and historical legacy.
In 2019, during a ceremony summarising results of the programme of revival of Bolgar and Sviyazhsk, Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky was even sorry because this stage was in the past:
“I congratulate you on the end of the project and feel sorry. Now such an amazing team you created, such an amazing staff needs a new project,” he claimed.
But it turned out the minister shouldn’t have been sorry. Renaissance fund already had a new goal at that moment — Adymnar programme. It is the developed of a chain of multilingual educational centres across Tatarstan. Everybody was invited to participate in the socially important project. TAIF Group companies again were among the first to reply.
But this is not the end. TAIF built Ekiyet Puppet Theatre, Pyramid Culture and Leisure Complex. It is the Pyramid one cannot even imagine the architectural ensemble of the central part of the republic’s capital that became one of the most popular sites to hold both officials events such concerts, celebrations, holiday. Also, there were built mosques, churches, health care and educational institutions. By the way, concerts, holidays and mass events in the republic in general aren’t held without the involvement and support of TAIF Group of Companies.
To be continued…