Kavkaz Files ISSN 2975-0474 Volume 17 Issue 1
Author: Giuliano Bifolchi
Dagestan and Tajikistan’s entente on developing cooperation confirms the North Caucasus’s role in promoting relations between Russia and foreign countries, especially those in the blizhnee zarubezhe (near abroad) where the Kremlin wants to confirm its presence and influence.
Davlatshokh Gulmahmadzoda, the Ambassador of the Republic of Tajikistan to Russia, recently travelled to Dagestan on a working visa, where he was warmly received by Sergey Melikov, the head of the republic. The primary aim of the visit was to foster collaboration between the two regions, specifically in the areas of economy, trade, sports, tourism, and humanitarian efforts.
During their meeting, Sergey Melikov expressed his belief that Tajikistan could benefit from the well-established halal production in Dagestan. The discussions also placed significant emphasis on the importance of cooperation in agricultural product storage and cotton cultivation. Notably, the head of Dagestan expressed a keen interest in establishing joint ventures between the two countries.
Moreover, Davlatshokh Gulmahmadzoda extended an invitation to representatives from Dagestan’s Ministry of Tourism to visit Tajikistan and explore the tourism potential of this Central Asian country. Such a visit would serve as a valuable opportunity to identify further avenues for collaboration within the tourism industry. Sergey Melikov also suggested the possibility of organising joint wrestling tournaments between Tajikistan and Dagestan.
The negotiations also encompassed cultural exchanges. It is worth noting that a significant number of students from Tajikistan are currently pursuing their studies in Dagestani universities.
By collaborating with Dagestan, Tajikistan could tap into an established Russian market for halal products, catering to the growing demand among Muslim consumers, both domestically and internationally. This collaboration would allow Dushanbe to leverage the expertise and experience of the Russian Federation in halal production, enabling them to develop and expand their own halal industry.
Partnerships in key sectors, such as agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing, can lead to value chain integration and increased efficiency. By combining their resources, Dushanbe and Makhachkala can develop stronger supply chains, optimise production processes, and explore new markets, resulting in improved productivity and profitability for businesses in both regions.
Overall, joint ventures between Tajikistan and Dagestan have the potential to stimulate economic growth, create employment opportunities, drive innovation, and enhance the general economic development of both republics, fostering long-term prosperity and stability.
The collaboration between Tajikistan and Dagestan highlights the significant role of the North Caucasian republic in advancing Moscow’s foreign policy and expanding its market reach. This partnership, particularly in the lucrative halal industry, reaffirms the Kremlin’s ambitions to establish a dominant presence in this sector, as shown during the KazanForum 2023.
Situated strategically on the Caspian Sea, Dagestan enjoys a privileged position that enables it to connect regional and national markets with Central Asia and emerging economies. Through its geographical advantage, Dagestan can be a means of economic and trade exchange, which could lead to strengthened cross-border ties and a more unified region.
Tajikistan’s interest in collaborating with Dagestan can be attributed, in part, to the recent Caucasus Investment Exhibition. This exhibition showcased the North Caucasus region as a promising logistics and tourism hub, drawing attention from potential investors. The event emphasised the region’s infrastructure development, logistics capabilities, and tourism prospects.
This convergence of interests underscores the increasing significance of Dagestan in regional and international contexts, aligning with Moscow’s broader geopolitical and economic objectives.
Dagestan, along with the wider North Caucasus region, is experiencing a growing allure driven by the Kremlin’s strategic focus on regional economic development and efforts to attract foreign investment. This concerted approach is bolstering the region’s investment potential and opening up new opportunities for economic partnerships.
With a predominantly Muslim population in the North Caucasus, comprising mainly Sunni Muslims but also a Shia minority, the region holds the potential to serve as a crucial conduit for Moscow’s engagement and economic collaboration with the Islamic world. This unique positioning presents an enticing prospect for investors and decision-makers seeking to tap into the region’s economic growth and leverage its cultural and geographical strengths.
Looking at the broader picture about Russia and the North Caucasus, if the pilot project of Islamic banking becomes a reality in Russia, particularly in Dagestan, Chechnya, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan, where the Kremlin is actively seeking to adapt Islamic financial products, it could usher in a new era of economic opportunities and strengthen the region’s role as a vital link between Russia and the vast Muslim market.
Implementing Islamic banking in these republics would not only cater to the financial needs of the Muslim population but also attract investments from the Islamic world, fostering greater economic cooperation and bolstering trade relations.
The establishment of a booming Islamic banking sector and the development of the halal industry can be seen as strategic assets for the Russian Federation, enabling it to diversify its economic portfolio and mitigate the impact of Western sanctions. By tapping into the growing demand for halal products and services, Russia can position itself as a key player in the global halal market, attracting foreign investments and forging stronger ties with Muslim-majority countries.
From Dushanbe’s point of view, through collaborative efforts with Dagestan, Tajikistan might capitalise on the strategic initiatives undertaken by the Kremlin to promote the halal industry and Islamic banking within the Russian Federation.
This cooperation opens up avenues for Tajikistan to position itself strategically and reap potential benefits from the future recognition and growing influence of the Russian Federation in the Islamic world. By aligning their efforts with Dagestan’s focus on these sectors, the Central Asian republic can tap into the expanding opportunities presented by Russia’s engagement with the Muslim market, fostering stronger economic ties and expanding its own presence in the Islamic world.
Such a cooperative approach allows Tajikistan to navigate the evolving dynamics of the region and forge mutually beneficial partnerships that align with its own economic interests and aspirations in the global Islamic economy. This collaborative engagement presents investors with an attractive opportunity to participate in the burgeoning halal industry and Islamic finance sector, supported by the Kremlin’s strategic direction and the increasing significance of the North Caucasus region as a gateway to the Islamic world.
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