The Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Georgia in Malaysia, Shalva Datiashvili is optimistic about the prospects of closer trade and cultural ties between the two countries.
Georgia, a beautiful and culturally-rich country, celebrated its 105th Independence Anniversary on 26 May 2023, after being under the Russian Empire for more than a century.
Throughout its 4,000 years of history, Georgia has experienced numerous invasions by foreign powers with the intention to conquer the East-West trade routes, where Georgia is located. Despite the history-long upheavals, Georgians have successfully managed to maintain a strong national identity, as a people in the converging point of the East and the West. Well-known for being a marketplace for many lands and empires due to their strategic location at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, and the historical Silk Road, Georgia has a remarkably unique culture and history with different influences.
The Caucasus Mountains have been an inseparable part of the Georgian identity.
They have inspired myths and epics, they have sheltered gods and heroes, they have protected the people from outsiders, and they have brought Georgians prosperity. Myriad valuable minerals such as gold, silver, copper, and iron have been mined in the Caucasus Mountains since ancient times.
Language, Culture & Sceneries
Georgia is culturally rich in all aspects, including cuisine, literature, crafts, architecture, music, and dance. One prime example that gathers
it all is the Georgian-style feast called the supra. It is a multi-dish, multi-hour affair, complemented by occasional storytelling and even polyphonic singing. The supra is typically led by a Tamada, an all-rounder master of ceremonies who keeps the toasts coming,
the laughter resonating, the songs chiming, and the wine flowing.
Georgia was one of the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity in 326 AD. This resulted in the huge influence of its architecture especially with the construction of some spectacular cathedrals and monasteries that are still well-preserved today. This includes the Gelati Monastery Complex in Imereti, which was founded by King David Aghmashenebeli (David The Builder) in 1106.
It is not a total Georgian experience if you are not visiting the Caucasus Mountains. The Upper Svaneti region is one of the exceptional locations that you can indulge in the beautiful scenery of the majestic mountains alongside the medieval villages and tower houses.
The official language of Georgia is the Georgian language however all of the other ethnicities are free to use their own languages as Georgiais a multilingual country. But there is always something else that brings Georgians of all ethnicities together.
Winery workers unloading luscious Georgian grapes for winemaking.
The famous Gelati Monastery Complex in Imereti, which was founded by King David Aghmashenebeli (David The Builder) in 1106. This monastery reflects the ‘golden age’ of medieval Georgia during the period of political strength and economic growth between reigns of King David IV (1089 – 1125) and Queen Tamar (1184 – 1213).
Georgian food is hearty and filling, partially thanks to the harsh geographical conditions
of the country, calling for more meat-and-dairy-based cuisine. For example, the famous staple of Georgian food, Khinkali, boiled, juicy, meat-filled dumplings originated in the Caucasus Mountainous regions of Khevsureti, Mtiuleti, Tusheti and Pshavi. With the passage of time, this dish has become a national staple, with each region creating its own version of this traditional Georgian comfort food.
Another national dish is Khachapuri, a cheese pie that also has regional variations. Khachapuri can be made into different shapes and sizes but the gist will always be the classic – lots of gooey, cheesy goodness combined with freshly baked bread.
Where Wine was Born
Georgians and wine are inseparable. Dating back approximately 8000 years, the earliest traces of viticulture and cultivated wine were found in the 6th to 5th Millennia BC in the ancient Neolithic settlement – Shulaveri Gora, which officially confirms Georgia as the birthplace of wine.
Wine plays a vital role in Georgians’ everyday life, culture, and national identity throughout their history. What makes Georgian winemaking special is the usage of 8000-year-old heritage of using qvevri, enormous clay vessels buried underground, for fermentation and ageing. Globally recognised, qvevri has earned a place in UNESCO’s National Monument of Intangible Cultural Heritage list. The history of wine in Georgia is so rich that it can be felt with every sip taken, representing a heritage worth celebrating.
Qvevri is the name given to a large clay vessel which is buried underground to age and ferment of wine. This is the key element in Georgian winemaking and what makes it richer in taste compared to other wines.
Established in the 4th century, the Narikala Fortress also known as the Mother Fortress of Tbilisi symbolises Tbilisi’s ancient defences.
Khinkali, a hearty meat-filled dumpling, is Georgia’s national staple. It is usually served during supra, which is a Georgian-styled feast.
Georgia in Business & Economy
Georgia is a fast-growing developing state with a carefully-planned economic and political agenda. Complex economic reforms have been made allowing Georgia to establish a stable, secure, corruption-free, and business-friendly environment. This has made Georgia become one of the most liberal foreign trade policies in the world by having low import tariffs and non-tariff regulations. With all of these great and beneficial policies, Georgia is recognized as one of the best investment locations and a prominent performing country for the past years.
Georgia’s economic freedom score is 68.7, making its economy the 35th freest in 2023. Georgia also has been notably recognised for its improvement in the Corruption Freedom Index globally, at the same time, placing Georgia as one of the top 10 least corrupted countries from 144 countries worldwide. Having a variety of attractions to offer, Georgia is rapidly becoming a tourist’s favourite destination. It is safe to say that the visitors will be able to enjoy and relax during their stay in a very hospitable and safe environment.
Before COVID-19 hit, Georgia’s international tourism was the fastest-growing economic sector as it offers great investment opportunities in seaside and mountain resorts as well as recreation and spa hotels. After reopening the international border, this sector has been rebounding and gradually rising.
As of now, tourism is one of the most dynamically developing sectors in the Georgian economy with the extreme potential to grow further as in the first quarter of 2023, Georgia has received 1,208,462 international travellers.
Georgia – Malaysia Bond
The diplomatic ties between Georgia and Malaysia were established in 1993, making this year the 30th anniversary of our bilateral diplomatic bond. Throughout the years, the two countries have achieved impressive results in abundant mutually beneficial cooperation, involving various fields.
With the great intention to further strengthen trade-economic relations, the first Georgian-Malaysian Business Forum – “Promising Market for SMEs in Malaysia and Georgia,” organised by the Embassy of Georgia and the SME Corp
of Malaysia, was held online in June 2021.
As of 2022, the most significant area of cooperation between Georgia and Malaysia
has been trade, with the trade turnover between our two countries steadily rising up to US$15 million (RM68.4 million). Some of Georgia’s exports to Malaysia include wines from fresh grapes, spirits, liqueurs, undernatured ethyl alcohol, manganese oxides, medical instruments and appliances, and personal items.
Georgia looks forward to more cooperation with Malaysia and building a stronger bond with each other. The Embassy of Georgia proudly invites Malaysian tourists, students, businesspersons, investors, media, friends, and everyone to come and explore the many wonders of Georgia and indulge in its beauty.