TBY talks to Haji Ibrahim Nehramli, President of Avesta Concern, on his ambitious Khazar Islands New City project.
TBY How did you find yourself getting involved in the construction industry in Azerbaijan?
HAJI IBRAHIM NEHRAMLI I was born in 1958 in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. I graduated from the Economics Faculty of Nakhchivan State University, and when Azerbaijan made its first steps to become a newly independent state, I established Ilkan, one of my first adventures in terms of ownership, and it achieved great success. In 1996 I founded Avesta Concern, and today the company has gained a strong reputation not only in Azerbaijan, but worldwide as well, as proven by the economic and cultural relations we have developed with countries such as Russia, Turkey, the UAE, Poland, China, and Korea. I have developed a lot of different projects such as mosques in Nakhchivan, water supply infrastructure in my home village, and many residential areas in Baku. Also, I built Avesta Concern’s office building, which back in the old days was the first modern high-rise building in Baku. I was Deputy of the Supreme Majlis in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic between 1995 and 2000.
What was the inspiration behind developing the Khazar Islands New City?
I have always tried to bring the most modern projects to our country, being a pioneer in many fields. Khazar Islands is just the continuation of such a trend. The first idea to develop such a project came in the beginning of 2010, after a little inspirational talk with one of my sons, in which he foresaw the construction of a new city. I was thinking about this project for a long time and decided to build it. I began to wander around many different cities and countries seeking out the inspiration to develop my first major project and in one of my several visits to Dubai—actually, on my way back to Azerbaijan—it came to me all of a sudden and I started drawing the first sketches of Khazar Islands New City. At the beginning, very few people believed I could develop such a large project, but President Ilham Aliyev, who is very fond of progress, gave the green light. Today, work has already started. In fact, there are a few buildings that have already been constructed, and we expect to see the first inhabitants, around 6,000 people, living there by 2013.
Could you tell us a bit more about the project and its technical characteristics?
The Khazar Islands project will be a new business and residential city located 28 kilometers south of Baku. It is made up of 50 islands and 100 bridges, and the overall cost of the project is $100 billion. After carrying out research on the composition of the soil in the area, we have decided to develop the tallest building in the world. At 1,050 meters it will be a business center surrounded by six adjacent buildings that will provide security and protection to the structure of such a major construction project. This building, which will cost $2 billion, will be 220 meters taller than the current tallest building in the world, which is located in Dubai. The project is composed of three stages; in the first one we will construct six islands and 19 bridges over about 5 million sqm. The cost of the first phase is $12 billion, and it will be finished by 2016. In 2014 we will start implementing the second stage of the project, with an overall cost of $20 billion, and the third phase, which will cost $30 billion, will start in 2017. The new city will have its own means of transport, countless kilometers of boulevard area and roads, an amusement park, stadium, equestrian center, golf course, rally area, airport, kindergartens, schools, universities, a power supply center, and all the facilities you can imagine. This complementary part of the project will have an approximate cost of $40 billion. Khazar Islands New City will be completely finished by 2022.
What strategies have you implemented to attract foreign investors to the project?
I, personally, have taken a big part of the responsibility of financing the Khazar Islands project. However, we have also been attending international investment conferences and summits to attract foreign investors to the project, and today I can say that our main partners are from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Turkish banks are involved in this project, as well as the country as a whole, because this project is not about me, but about Azerbaijan, its business development and modernization, and its future potential to grow bigger and attract even more international companies to Azerbaijan, because we are planning to sell 100,000 houses to foreign residents. Overall, I think 1 million people will be living in the new city, creating around 600,000 jobs and contributing to the diversification of the Azerbaijani economy and the environment in our country.
© The Business Year