• KGS/USD = 0.01151 0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09413 -0.42%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01151 0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09413 -0.42%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01151 0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09413 -0.42%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01151 0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09413 -0.42%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01151 0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09413 -0.42%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01151 0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09413 -0.42%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01151 0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09413 -0.42%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01151 0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09413 -0.42%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

Viewing results 79 - 84 of 137

Major Storms Cause Injuries and Disruption Across Swathes of Central Asia

Storms accompanied by heavy winds hit parts of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan on the evening of March 28th. Heavy flooding in parts of western Kazakhstan forced the evacuation of at least 1,000 people, including hundreds of children, and a state of emergency has been declared in some areas. Military helicopters evacuated people in distress and rescuers even used rubber dinghies to ferry camels to safety in the Shalkar district of the Aktobe region. Flooding caused widespread disruption after a river overflowed in the city of Aktobe, which has more than half a million residents. Aktobe’s airport was forced to stop operations. In recent days, the flooding has damaged hundreds of buildings, submerged roads and caused power outages. Video on social media showed people wading through water in the city streets and water sloshing across the floor of a bus filled with passengers. Aerial images showed some buildings completely surrounded by floodwaters in more isolated areas. Fifty schools were prepared as temporary evacuation points in the city of Aktobe and rescue teams include volunteers, police officers and military personnel, regional emergency officials said on Instagram. In Almaty, meanwhile, wind speeds of 24 meters per second were recorded, with the storm felling dozens of trees and tearing roofs from buildings. "[There] was a very strong dust-storm and then a downpour with a thunderstorm. For our region at this time of year, this is an extremely rare phenomenon,” Almaty resident Arai Batkalova told the Times of Central Asia. “People were filming videos en masse and posting them on social media." In Bishkek, strong winds damaged eleven schools and eight kindergartens, and near-hurricane-force winds tore the roofs off at least fifteen residential buildings. Local residents reported dozens of fallen trees, some of which destroyed parked cars. Bishkek; image: mchs.gov.kg   Emergency public-safety regimes were imposed in Bishkek and the Chui region. In these areas, storms damaged 154 buildings, and 24 local residents (including two children) were admitted to medical centers, according to the Kyrgyz Ministry of Emergency Situations. Four people were hospitalized with fractures and head injuries. "In order to study dangerous areas on the ground and determine the consequences, mobile groups of civil defense services were organized. It was ordered to involve all available utilities and special equipment as soon as possible," rescuers noted. Kyrgyz authorities are still calculating the damage from the storm. Utility workers spent all night repairing the storm's aftermath: clearing roads, removing fallen trees, and repairing power lines. "On the line of the municipal enterprise, Bishkeksvet, [by] morning [workers repaired] eight cases of broken power lines, as well as other consequences of the bad weather. Brigades continue [working]. By evening, the breaks [of power lines] will be repaired throughout the city," Bishkek City Hall promised. According to the Kyrgyz hydrometeorological center, strong winds were also observed in the south of the country in the Osh region, where wind speeds reached 15 meters per second. Strong winds were also recorded in Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent, where its speed reached 17 meters per...

Ancient Turkmen City of Anau Declared Cultural Capital of the Turkic World 2024

On March 25th, Rashid Meredov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan and Sultanbay Raev, Secretary General of the International Organization of Turkic Culture (TURKSOY), attended a ceremony in Ashgabat for the declaration of the nomination of Turkmen city Anau as 'Cultural Capital of the Turkic World 2024'. Coinciding with the 300th anniversary of the birth of Turkmen’s beloved bard, 2024 has also been declared the ‘Year of the Great Poet and Thinker of the Turkic World: Magtymguly Pyragy.’ Revered throughout the country, the 18th century Sufi poet and spiritual teacher, Pyragy, is hailed as the father of Turkmen literature and his legacy persists through a rich ingrained tradition of Turkmen bards or ‘bagshys’ adapting his poetry to song. His image appears on numerous monuments as well as banknotes and The Magtymguly International Prize is awarded annually to distinguished scholars of Turkmen language and literature. A 197ft bronze statue, erected in Ashgabat, will be officially unveiled on June 27th; the date of a national holiday celebrating the poet. According to reports from their meeting, Meredov and Raev emphasized the importance of promoting both Magtymguly Pyragy’s legacy and the cultural significance of the ancient Turkmen city of Anau on various international platforms including those of TURKSOY, UN, and UNESCO.

American Cowboys to Compete in 5th World Nomad Games in Kazakhstan

Last week, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Tourism and Sports Ermek Marzhikpayev met Kaycee Field, renowned American professional rodeo cowboy, and Ladd Howell, captain of the US kokpar team. Perhaps surprisingly, the traditional Kazakh game of kokpar is growing in popularity in America. The US National Kokpar Team, led by Howell, competed in both the 2018 and 2022 World Nomad Games and plans were discussed for its participation in the 5th World Nomad Games in Kazakhstan. Kokpar, or goat–picking, is one of the oldest nomadic games in Kazakhstan. Fast and furious, it involves riders fighting for possession of a headless carcass of a goat and throwing it into a pit to score a ‘goal.’ Addressing the US delegation, Minister Marzhikpayev said, “Kokpar is one of the oldest nomadic games, and played for hundreds of years, is highly entertaining. At previous World Nomad Games, Kazakhstani Kokpar athletes won gold. We have heard much about your team as a leader in this sport. It is gratifying that you actively participate in the equestrian sports of Central Asia and are involved in their popularization in the United States. We believe that your team’s performance will be one of the most memorable.” He also mentioned the US team's proposal to provide demonstration performances of American rodeo in this year's program. The 5th World Nomad Games will be held in Astana from 8-14 September and The Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Kazakhstan anticipates the participation of almost 4,000 athletes from over a hundred countries in twenty competitive and ten demonstration events. Initiated by the government of Kyrgyzstan in 2012 for the revival and preservation of nomadic culture, the first World Nomad Games took place in Cholpon Ata on Lake Issyk-Kul in September 2014.

Kazakhstan Ranked Among 50 Happiest Countries in the World

In the recently published UN and Gallup World Happiness Report 2024, Kazakhstan was ranked among the top 50 happiest countries in the world, ahead of Russia, Armenia and Georgia. However, the Baltic States and Uzbekistan returned higher happiness scores on the index. This rating, presented on March 20, was developed on the basis of a three-year study conducted by UN experts, Gallup and other scientists. Citizens of different countries assessed their quality of life by taking into account a variety of factors, including economic status, GDP, life expectancy, major life challenges, sense of freedom, public responsiveness, and the level of corruption. These interdisciplinary studies help the understanding of how different aspects of life interact and influence the overall sense of happiness. TCA asked citizens from across Kazakhstan about the their feelings regarding the level of happiness presented in the report, and met with mixed feelings. "Frankly speaking, I don't have such a feeling,” Alua, a 21-year-old pedagogical student from Taraz told TCA. “After all, food prices are rising almost daily, and wages are not growing as fast. Also, conditions in state institutions haven’t changed much, especially in healthcare and education." "I’ve seen this rating, but prices are rising so quickly that Almaty has become the most expensive city in Central Asia,” Sanzhar, a 22-year-old CMM specialist from Almaty commented. "To be honest, I don't think there have been any significant changes that mean we’re happier than before,” Merey, a 28-year-old singer from Astana told TCA. “The only thing maybe because the coronavirus pandemic was in full swing three years ago, so compared to that the situation is much better now, so people think they’ve become happier. However, the socio-economic situation in the country hasn't changed that much, so it's strange for me to hear that people in our country are happier than in Georgia, for example." Comments from others, however, suggest that life in Kazakhstan is improving year on year. "Yes, I feel the changes,” Raushan, a 40-year-old Art Historian from Almaty stated. “There is less discrimination due to language barriers, and there’s a growing interest in traditional nomadic culture which leads to the creative development of young talents who are able to make a name for themselves internationally. All this strengthens their faith and motivation to move forward with creative ideas and learn ways to promote their creativity." "Thanks to the internet and social networks people are aware of the inhuman things happening in the world. With all that is known, I think people in Kazakhstan are just happy to have a peaceful sky above their heads." Tair, a 25-year-old businessman from Taraz told TCA. "I’ve definitely seen an increase in happiness among people. It's like the confidence in our security has gotten higher for me personally," Merey, a 20-year-old student from Kostanai commented.

Kazakh Musicians Turn to Old Instruments to Make New Music

The dombra, the kyu, the kobyz, the zhetigen…. The list of traditional instruments in Kazakh music goes on. These aren’t dust-coated relics. The instruments are increasingly at the forefront of a lot of popular music in Kazakhstan today. They even get makeovers. The dombra is a long-necked, stringed instrument symbolizing Turkic culture. Now there is the electric dombra. Merey Otan, also known as Mercury Cachalot, knows about all of this. She is a musician and graduate student at Nazarbayev University in Astana and co-author of a book about the transformation of traditional instruments in Kazakhstan. In written responses to questions from The Times of Central Asia, Otan talked about contemporary Kazakh music and the role of the old instruments. After some replies, TCA includes brief explanations of her musical references. Researcher Merey Otan speaks last year at a launch for a book she co-authored about traditional instruments and contemporary music in Kazakhstan. Otan is a postgraduate student in the Eurasian Studies program at Nazarbayev University in Astana. Photo: Merey Otan   Merey, tell us how you first encountered Kazakh music and what attracted you to Kazakh instruments?   I have always been surrounded by Kazakh music. As long as I can remember we used to sing Kazakh folk songs at family gatherings, and various celebrations. My sister used to play dombra, a Kazakh traditional plucked two-stringed instrument, and when I started going to school I also started learning to play it. Unfortunately, I stopped taking lessons after a couple of years but I still remember how to play some compositions, kuys, and play it once in a while.   TCA: Kuys is a traditional instrumental piece of Kazakh, Nogai, Tatar and Kyrgyz musical cultures. It is performed on various folk instruments.   Which Kazakh instruments are considered the most popular among contemporary musicians, and why do they attract attention?   Dombra is probably the most popular traditional instrument among local musicians, including contemporary ones. It also has a sacred meaning for the people in terms of national identity. This is evident in the quote of a famous Kazakh poet Kadyr Myrza Ali "A true Kazakh is not a Kazakh but a dombra." This shows that Kazakh people associate their identity with the instrument and incorporating its sound in contemporary songs allows them to situate their music in the local context. Apart from that, musicians also use instuments like qobyz, shanqobyz, zhetigen. Authenticity was always important for musicians and including traditional instruments is one of the popular strategies to demonstrate authenticity for Kazakhstan's musicians. Among the most popular examples are songs by Yerbolat Kudaibergen, Irina Kairatovna, Aldaspan, The Buhars. A dombra and a kobyz, traditional instruments used in Kazakhstan, are shown in a book that was co-authored by researcher Merey Otan. Photo: TCA   TCA: The kobyz is an ancient bowed instrument preserved among the peoples of Siberia, Central Asia, the Volga region, Transcaucasia and other regions.  The shankobyz is an ancient Kazakh reed musical instrument, formerly used by shaman-worshipers to...

Tears and Laughter: An Evening at an Uzbek Theater

Tashkent, Uzbekistan - The action unfolds in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. An Uzbek man goes to Russia for compulsory military service and falls in love with a Russian woman. Back with her betrothed in his homeland, the Russian slowly wins over her recalcitrant mother-in-law and learns to love Uzbek culture. So goes the plot of “Uzbek Dance,” a play being performed in the colonnaded Uzbek National Academic Drama Theater in Tashkent, the capital. The tragicomedy made its debut in Uzbekistan in 2009 and has been re-staged several times, immersing audiences in Uzbek history and culture and making them laugh and cry. The Times of Central Asia attended a performance on March 9. So did hundreds of other people. Ticket prices in the Uzbek currency, the sum, cost the equivalent of about USD4 to USD5.60. Before the start, people in the atrium gazed at portraits of actors who helped to build the Uzbek theater scene over the last century. People mingle in the museum of the National Academic Drama Theater in Uzbekistan. Portraits of actors who contributed to the development of Uzbek theater in the past century are hung there. Photo: TCA   In the early days, the “Turon" troupe performed around Uzbekistan. The first performance of the theater group was held in 1913 in the garden of the 14th century Tashkent mausoleum of an Islamic leader, or sheikh. In 1918, the state took over the troupe. Written by Nurillo Abbaskhan, “Uzbek Dance” explores tension and reconciliation between the Russian woman and her Uzbek mother-in-law, whose verbal and cultural missteps make for mutual suspicion and comedy. The play invites reflection on the nuanced relationship between Russia and Uzbekistan today (at least 2% of Uzbekistan’s population are ethnic Russians, according to government data in 2021; the population is estimated today at nearly 37 million). There’s a dark side to the drama. The family saga happens against the backdrop of a real-life 1980s corruption scandal surrounding a campaign to supply more Uzbek cotton for the Soviet Union. Spectators await the performance of "Uzbek Dance," a play that has been staged in different productions several times since making its debut in 2009. Photo: TCA   The cotton campaign was marred by falsified production numbers and a backlash from Soviet officials who rounded up thousands of Uzbek people, prosecuting many on false charges. Additionally, pesticides took a devastating toll on the environment and workers’ health. In the play, the Uzbek man, Tursunboy, drives a tractor in the cotton fields. Eventually, he gets falsely accused in the purge and imprisoned. He eventually gets out of jail, but the harsh conditions and years of exposure to toxic chemicals have left him fatally ill. Then there is Panamaryova Maria Visilevna, who took the name Maryam after converting to Islam on the insistence of her Muslim mother-in-law, Kumri Aya. The two women don’t get along at first. But they get closer. Maryam, who gives birth to six children before Tursunboy’s decline, learns the Uzbek language, dances, hat-making...

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