|Birth||8 September 1966, Azerbaijan|
Zarakh Iliev (born 1966) is a Russian businessman and property developer. He is one of the richest businesspeople in Russia, with an estimated net worth today of around $5 billion.
Zarakh Iliev was born on 8 September 1966, in a small village in Azerbaijan. He was one of eight children who learned shoemaking from their father. However, Iliev was not content to stay in his village and make shoes. At a young age, he began tailoring and selling hats in Quba, a neighboring city. After years of hard work, he came to Moscow, where he met his friend and business partner, God Nisanov. Together, the two created the Kievskaya Ploshchad Group of Companies, which is included in Forbes’s list of top 100 privately owned companies in Russia.
In the early 1990s, Iliev made his way to Moscow, where he and Nisanov launched their first business venture. They began by purchasing markets near key Moscow metro stations. Following their successful venture, they turned the markets into shopping centers, and from there, it was onward and upward.
Iliev and Nisanov's firm, the Kievskaya Ploshchad Group of Companies, acquired and developed additional shopping centers, hotels, restaurants, agricultural centers, and also took on urban restoration projects.
In 1998, the Kievskaya Ploshchad Group of Companies, with Iliev and Nisanov at the helm, opened the Elektronnyy Ray Shopping Center, which is known for its high-quality appliances and electronics. In 2002, the company followed up by opening the Panorama shopping center.
More malls were to follow. In 2004, the Grand furniture mall joined the ranks of Iliev’s properties. It is a mall dedicated solely to furniture, both domestic and international. It includes showrooms and hosts masterclasses, lectures, and exhibitions. Also in 2004, the company opened the Moscow Automobile Shopping Center, a large-scale center that caters to people looking for both new and used cars.
Radisson Acquisitions and Shopping Centers
In 2005, Iliev’s company entered the hotel business. It acquired Hotel Ukraina through a government auction and renovated completely over the course of five years. In 2010, the hotel reopened with a new name, the Radisson Royal. In addition to serving as a hotel, it is also home to a large, private collection of paintings from the Soviet era, which are displayed on the walls of rooms and hallways.
In 2006, the company opened the Evropeyskiy Shopping Center, also known as the European Shopping Center. The shopping and entertainment center has some of the highest volume of foot traffic out of all the malls in Russia and even Europe. It is famous for its outdoor fountain that features music and jet streams of water that reach 22 meters high. It is also home to 500 shops, cafes, a movie theater, nightclub, and more.
In 2009, the company continued with the Radisson brand in a unique way. It launched the Radisson Royal Fleet of Yachts, which consists of 10 yachts that run 365 days a year and 10 river trams with air conditioning and glass roofs that operate from May-October. Both are designed for sightseeing along the Moscow River. The ships are all custom-built, and Iliev played a key role in their development and design.
In 2012, another Radisson hotel, the Radisson Slavyanskaya, joined the ranks of the Kievskaya Ploshchad Group of Companies. Under Iliev’s vision, a modern and elegant business center was created in the hotel, hosting many international conferences every year. That same year, Iliev’s company also opened the Vorobyevsky Business Center.
In 2014, Iliev’s company created in Moscow, Food City, an agricultural cluster designed for the wholesale of fresh foods. The company encompasses an area of 120 hectares and includes a massive mall, 10 cross-docks for selling wholesale vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat, parking lots for cars and trucks, and a customs terminal.
Various Other Projects
In 2015, the company opened the Moskvarium, Europe’s biggest landlocked aquarium, which also serves as a center for oceanography and marine biology. The Moskvarium has 80 aquariums that contain freshwater and marine wildlife, including fish, mollusks, and arthropods.
Also in 2015, the company opened the South Gate Bus Station in Moscow, which has over 30 buses that complete over 200 trips a day. The station immediately took off in popularity because of its comfortable, ergonomic buses and convenient infrastructure.
In 2016, the company took on an urban restoration project of sorts. It acquired a historic building known as the Book, which it plans to restore and turn into a hotel. Also in 2016, the company began the construction of a multipurpose hotel complex on Varvarka Street. The complex will have apartments in addition to its hotel rooms and it is scheduled to be completed by 2022.
In 2017, Iliev, Nisanov, and Kievskaya Ploshchad branched out into the culinary world. They opened the Voskhod restaurant in Zaryadye Park with a rooftop that offers a view of the Kremlin, Moscow River, and Vasilyevsky Spusk. At the same time in the same park, they also opened a gastronomic center where traditional Russian foods are served.
From 2017 to 2019, the company restored the Lesnoy Architectural Ensemble, which was deemed a cultural heritage site in 2016. The company also started restoration work on the Miussky Depot, the oldest tram depot in Moscow.
Additionally in 2017, the company acquired the Velozavodsky Market and the Olympic Stadium, the latter of which is one of the largest sports complexes in Europe. Large-scale reconstruction also began on the Schelkovskogo Bus Station.
In 2018, the company acquired land for the eventual opening of Food City 2, which will be the second agricultural cluster in Russia. Plans and designs are currently in progress.
In 2019, the company opened a large gastronomic quarter at the historic Miussky Depot (which it restored). The quarter features a farmer’s market, cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, and more.
Zarakh Binsionovich Iliev is married and has two children.