Credit: Tochikistoni Hadamoti Matbuot / Flickr

Faroz on the Slopes

One of Faroz’s best-known projects is Safed-Dara, the country’s only ski resort. Built in 1975, the resort sits on a 60-hectare plot of land and included a hotel and two ski lifts when Faroz bought it from the government in December 2015.

The current price of a hectare of land in the area ranges from US$ 74,000 to $500,000 — meaning that the resort land alone is worth at least $4.4 million, and possibly as much as $30 million.

But Kodiri Kosim, the head of the Tajik Agency for Investments and State Property, said that Faroz had obtained the land rights and the buildings for just $200,000, with an expected investment of US$ 6 million over the next six years.

President Rahmon unveiled the newly opened ski resort in December 2016, taking part in numerous photo ops while skiing and riding a snowmobile with his wife.

At the ceremony, the president praised the unnamed “patriotic businessmen” responsible for the project.

It was high praise, and was soon undermined. In July 2017, some of the newly-constructed buildings at the resort became unstable due to soil displacement. As the country’s top architect said, they had been opened without a proper state safety inspection, and therefore needed urgent repairs.

President Rahmon did not seem concerned. Four months later, he inspected a new Faroz hotel project in the vicinity of the resort.

In a now-familiar pattern, he again praised the initiative of “patriotic businessmen,” a term which increasingly seems refer to the members of his family.

Sakhibov is also set to enjoy a considerable tax break that seems to have been initiated specifically for him. In 2018, the government introduced a series of tourism-related VAT and customs duty breaks — including ski resorts. The Faroz resort is the only one in the country.

Sakhibov also received some personal recognition. In January 2016, he was made president of the Tajik Winter Sports Association. The official announcement lauded the president’s son-in-law for his “direct help” in the reconstruction of the resort.

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