AZERBAIJAN - Tourism
Chief of the Executive Committee, Gabala Region
Sabuhi M. Abdullayev was born in Baku in 1972, and has had a rich career over the past two decades. Following a four-year stint in the private sector until 1995, he went on to work on the state customs committee. In 2007, he moved to the Ministry of Emergency Situations for three years, and subsequently became the Chief of the Executive Committee of Gabala Region.
Gabala is an ancient Azerbaijani city. For almost 900 years, it was the capital of Caucasian Albania. The city has distinctive traditions that have come to shape the way its residents live and work. In 2013, following the decision made by the leaders of the CIS countries, Gabala was declared the Cultural Capital of the CIS. The inauguration celebration was held in August 2013.
Gabala is located in the mountainous north west of the country, a region known for its impressive agricultural fertility. It boasts breathtaking views, rendering it a perfect tourist destination. Today, it has 16 hotels, of which four are five-star establishments. Meanwhile, there is a new ski resort in Tufandag, and Gabala International Airport, located 22 kilometers away from the city center, assists with transfer to the resort, receiving regular and charter flights. Tufadag Resort offers extreme sports facilities, with rafting being just one. Meanwhile, soccer enthusiasts take advantage of numerous football pitches. All sports facilities meet the highest quality standards, and in 2013, we added to the overall offering by opening a new golf course, while a hippodrome is currently under construction.
New sports facilities provide youth with physical recreation opportunities and adults with employment. The results of our focus on sports are noticeable, reflecting in decreased levels of crime and drug abuse in Gabala. We also have a football academy under construction that will bring the area much welcome value. Another important asset is a college of tourism and travel industry that will add to the growing body of industry professionals.
In the summer of 2014, Gabala will host its sixth International Classical Music Festival. The festival, organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, brings together the world’s leading classical musicians. The festival, running from July 20 to August 6, is broadcast worldwide, and also features a young musicians contest to showcase fresh talent. Apart from the cultural festivals, Gabala has been hosting an international art festival for four years now, which invites participants from the US, Japan, China, South Korea, and some European countries. Our city also hosts high-level international political events, such as the summits of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States. The local authorities have embarked on developing Gabala as an event hub of the region. Meanwhile, the new Heydar Aliyev Congress Hall is the latest in building technology. Baku is a highly crowded city, which suggests that increasingly international meetings will be held in Gabala, which I believe could become a second Davos. Gabala was appointed as The Capital of Legends of Azerbaijan for 2014 by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Currently, there are many industrial plants being built in the region. The biggest canning factory in the region is located in Gabala, and produces goods for export to 30 countries, including the US, Japan, and European markets. There are also hazelnut processing facilities in Gabala, where products are exported to Germany and Italy. Aside from that, we have wineries, and others under construction. Gabala also hosts the only piano factory in the former Soviet countries. Furthermore, there is a construction material factory among Gabala and these plants ensure a high regional employment rate. To date, the unemployment rate in Gabala has been close to zero. In fact, Gabala-based enterprises employ both locals and Azerbaijanis from other regions. Meanwhile, agriculture and animal husbandry are growing concerns, and two modern animal husbandry facilities were opened in 2013 with 1,200 livestock apiece.
We have ambitious plans for the next few years. And as we expect the number of tourists to increase, we have embarked on constructing two additional hotels. We also plan to open a new hospital in 2014 as well as a branch of the Foreign Languages Institute and a training center. It is worth noting that the population of the Gabala region continues to grow due to sustainable regional development. Over the past three years, it has grown from 93,000 to over 100,000 people.
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