Dinara Dultaeva, Director of Dinara and Co. and author of the coffee table book 10 Reasons to Visit Uzbekistan spoke to Guardian 20 on the sidelines of The Luxury League.
Q. Describe your journey in the world of publishing and tourism in Uzbekistan?
A. I am now fulfilling my dream because I studied in the UK since I was 15 and whenever I go somewhere and meet foreign people I always wanted to show my country and what is best there. You cannot always show that with words, so you want something that can be shown. That’s why I started with my dream project, the book 10 Reasons to Visit Uzbekistan, just after I came back from the UK. We made a 300-page layout and it was a beautiful photography book about Uzbekistan. We did not know the cost of printing and if we would be able to create a company based on that. That was just my passion to show Uzbekistan from the best side. Then I remember going to our designer on weekends or whenever I was free. We would work on this book and it took us three months to complete that. After that, suddenly, investors appeared who really liked the design and layout and they were ready to support and sponsor the book, because in Uzbekistan we do not have many books that are created privately. Mostly they are made by government orders and not by creative people. Before printing this book, I thought of doing some commercial projects…with famous people, which would help me invest in patriotic projects for my country. Surprisingly, people who wanted to support such projects and those who shared our values on nation branding and promoting Uzbekistan were more than those who just wanted to show themselves off or make corporate books about their families etc. After we released that book, it was a huge success. We even made a presentation in the UK… So this is a mission that my company and I have, to support talent and fulfill people’s dream because I am living my own.
Q. What do you consider your biggest achievement till today?
A. I sent a copy of the VIP edition of the book to Queen Elizabeth at the Buckingham palace as a gift. I even wrote a letter that I was very inspired to study in the UK and I want to connect my country with other countries. Hopefully the Queen seeing this book would be interested in coming to Uzbekistan and visiting the country through the virtual tour have via the photography in the book. To our immense surprise, after a couple of months, we got a response from Buckingham pPalace telling us that the Queen wants to thank us for this beautiful work and it became a big buzz in the UK media. Thus, we became quite famous. So gold mining companies and big oil corporations started ordering cooperate books from us. That gave us the basis to create more new books.
Q. Could you tell us more about your recent book?
A. We created this book called 365 Days of the Sun, which is about a gastronomical journey around Uzbekistan. We have a famous chef in Uzbekistan—he’s the the Gordon Ramsay of our country. His name is Chishti. He has several good restaurant projects and has been collecting recipes and information about Uzbek cuisine for 15 years and it was his dream to make a book of his own. We also collaborated with the number one food photographer in Uzbekistanm, Andre Argellon. We brought these people together for this project. They travelled around the country for three months, went to each region and tried the delicacies. They also took photos and found interesting people who told their stories to them. They made a beautiful modern presentation of traditional food.
Q . What is it that connects Uzbekistan with India?
A. The fashion and luxury spaces are really growing. I think it is inspiring, we love what we do and we do what we love. It is our passion to package things nicely. I think it is similar in Indian and Uzbek cultures. We have great crafts and a great legacy. It just needs a little bit of packaging, bit of presentation. And here at The Luxury Symposium, it is very well done. We see Gucci and Hermes take our heritage, making it so expensive but we can do it ourselves as well. It will not be overpriced after that. So luxury is the legacy we have, it needs proper presentation.