Born on 10 May 1929 in Turkmenistan. He is married.
He earned a Diploma in Geography from Turkmenistan State University (1949), a Candidate’s Degree in Geography from Leningrad University, USSR (1953), and a Doctorate in Geography from the Institute of Geography of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1968). He became a full Professor in 1970.
He started his career as a Lecturer in Geography and Head of the Physical Geography Chair at Turkmen State University (1950-1960), and then became Director of the Desert Research Institute Turkmenistan (1960-1975, 1986-1989 and 1997-present). He was President of the Turkmenistan Academy of Sciences (1975-1986) and Director of the Regional Research and Training Center on Desertification Control of ESCAP/UNEP (since 1987). He was a Lecturer at Turkmenistan University (1989-1993).
Prof. Babaev was President of the Geographic Society of Turkmenistan (since 1956), Chairman of the Khawarizmi State Prize Committee (since 1992), Chairman of the Turkmenistan State Committee on Desertification Control, and a member of the USSR (now Russian) Academy of Sciences. He was also a Deputy in the USSR Supreme Soviet for two terms.
Prof. Babaev has undertaken a number of long-term academic missions during his career, including to Mongolia (1974), India (1978, 1990), Algeria (1979, 1984), Libya (1980), China (1987, 1994), and Iran (1989, 1997). He has over 300 papers and articles to his credit including five books, and is Chief-Editor of the journal Problems of Desert Development.
He has been awarded the honorable title “Merited Figure of Science and Technology” by the government of Turkmenistan (1979), the State Prize of the (former) USSR in Science and Technology (1981), the Karpinsky Prize of Germany (1990), and the General Peel International Prize of the USA (1992).
He was elected as a Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences in 1994.