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New Face of Dushanbe

The capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe, is a fairly new city which grew of a small village in the early 1900’s. It was called Dushanbe, meaning Monday, after the village where the Monday markets were held. Following the Soviet Union take-over in Central Asia, it was made the capital of the newly created Tajik Republic in 1925, and renamed Stalinabad four years later. It finally regained its original name of Dushanbe in 1961.

The city was badly damaged as a result of the civil war in Tajikistan that erupted shortly after its independence in 1991 and continued for five years. However, the subsequent recovery of the Tajik economy has transformed Dushanbe into a rapidly growing commercial, cultural and industrial centre. This development has had a great impact on the appearance of the city, especially in the last few years when some parts of the city have changed beyond recognition.

New modern buildings have sprung up and the façades of some old Soviet style blocks have been revamped, replacing the concrete with glass. Glittering western style discotheques and night clubs have opened and Iranian pop singers living in Los Angeles are frequently invited to give concerts. Expensive foreign cars cruise the streets and satellite dishes have multiplied on the rooftops.

But these changes seem to be rather superficial, whilst more fundamental improvements in the infrastructure are still needed. Blackouts still occur, and some uneven roads and muddy streets remain the same as before. None of these, however, lessens the charm of this vibrant city, examples of which we can see in this multimedia report by Dariush Rajabian who recently visited Dushanbe.

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