Hajdin Sejdia is one of the most outspoken characters in Albania just after the breakdown of the communist system. He first came in the beginning of 1991, as a very successful businessman, and as introduced himself as the President of “Ilira Holding” company, he found the right terrain to do whatever he wanted. It was the time of the system’s overthrow, therefore no one had the willing to verify the background of the “Kosovar brother”. Sejdia managed to contact directly the highest spheres of the society. With a surprising easiness, he managed to receive a permit from the back then prime minister Adil Carcani to build a “Sheraton” Hotel behind the Palace of Culture in the centre of Tirana. But, a “small problem” emerged; he had not taken permission from the well-known Sheraton network. He loaned money from citizens and commenced the workings, promising to build a five-star hotel named Sheraton. Meanwhile, Albanians who were listening this name for the first time thought goods will fall from the sky and that Hajdin Sejdia was the best man in the world. Soon, bulldozers started excavating tons of earth making a giant hole, which afterwards and still now is known as the “Hole of Hajdin Sejdia”.
The hole remained opened till recently, after Sejdia fled with all his heavy-tonnage vehicles. With such action, people remained shocked, as he had taken money from them and gave a good lesson to them not to trust anyone. But Albanians did not properly learn the lesson because they lost money again in the pyramid schemes some years later. He did not come back to Albania until late 90s.
Later it was filled back by crews to create a local park, but since then quickly turned into an area used by the local prostitution scene. Following the events, some creditors were liquidated while others not. It is alleged that most of the sums are still held in foreign banks.
The mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama, was looking for a new Mosque complex to further his plans to drag the city out of its communist hangover. Five architectural firms emerged as finalists in the competition to design the 27,000 square-meter cultural complex: BIG, the Spanish architect Andreas Perea Ortega, Architecture Studio from France, the Dutch firm SeARCH and London-based Zaha Hadid. Last week, BIG’s proposal for a Mosque, an Islamic Centre, and a Museum of Religious Harmony was declared the winner, and we got to see the visual material that supported the win.