News / Asia

World’s Tallest Flagpole Flies World's Largest Flag in Tajikistan

James Brooke

Rising 165 meters in the air, the world’s tallest flagpole landed Tajikistan in the Guinness Book of World Records last month, just in time for the nation’s 20th anniversary of independence.

David Chambers, an American, built the tubular steel pole. “We always tell the client when we are building these massive poles, we are not building them for Guinness World Records," he said. "We are building them for the nation and for the people.”

Chambers gears up to take VOA on a 54-story climb to the top.

He explains that the pole sections were built in Dubai, transported by sea to Iran, then shipped by truck - through Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - to this landlocked nation.

After climbing more than 500 rungs on steel ladders, we emerge from a hatch to a small platform, so high it has its own weather station. “We are standing on the top of the world’s tallest flagpole right now,” noted Chambers.

Flying from the flagpole is a mighty flag of Tajikistan - weighing 350 kilograms, 1,800 square meters in size.  Chambers is also submitting this to Guinness to earn the ranking for the largest flag flown from a pole anywhere.

Putting Tajikstan on the map

Down on the ground, many Tajiks say they love their new national landmark.

Barbee Mahmoud, a student from the eastern Pamir mountains, says the pole is a national morale booster.

He says the massive pole and flag are helping to put Tajikstan on the map.

But others argue that the pole is an extravagance for one of Central Asia’s poorest countries. The $3.5 million spent on the pole and flags was part of $210 million spent on Independence Day projects. That is equal to 10 percent of the entire annual budget of Central Asia’s poorest nation.

Zafar Abdullayev is a blogger. He notes that big spotlights will keep the flag brighhtly lit all winter long - right when most of Tajikistan will be suffering from electricity rationing.

Muhiddin Kabiri, an opposition politician, contends the Tajik flagpole project is the result of a national inferiority complex.

He says some people who are short wear high heels to compensate for their height.  Kabiri suggests that, if the human-rights policies and politics of Tajikistan’s authoritarian government dull the country's international stature, it has to polish its image with an attraction like the world's tallest flagpole.  

Chambers has heard such criticisms before. The pole he built here topped one he built for Azerbaijan last year in Baku.  

The Azeri president evidently was so annoyed about being overtaken in the flagpole department that he skipped a regional meeting in Tajikistan last month.

More monumental flagpoles to come

With world leaders entranced by erecting flagpoles as tall as skyscrapers, Chambers says orders keep coming to his Dubai-based company, Trident Support.

“We also build stately flagpoles - under 100 meters - in other countries, such as south Africa, Angola, India - places like that. Inshallah, I would love to go back and build one in America some day," Chambers said. "I will build my own if no one else wants to do it.  That will be my swan song - the world’s tallest flagpole, built in Dave Chambers' backyard.”

But the United States may have to wait its turn.  Next in line for Trident’s monumental flag poles are Nigeria, Malaysia, and Russia - for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs