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Kazakh experts improve safety at research reactor

Wed, 2017-03-22 00:59

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts recently announced that Kazakh scientists have improved the safety of Kazakhstan’s research reactor after that agency reviewed recent modifications.

Photo credit: tengrinews.kz

“The research reactor is now starting a new life after major modifications and refurbishment, including conversion from the use of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU) to further serve science and the national economy,” said General Director of the Almaty-based Institute of Nuclear Physics Yergazy Kenzhin, according to the IAEA’s press release.

Kazakhstan’s Institute of Nuclear Physics has implemented significant upgrades and modifications to improve the safety of its research reactor. Experts of the Integrated Nuclear Safety Assessment of Research Reactors (INSARR) mission working under IAEA reviewed the safety programmes at the Kazakh light water reactor. The research reactor called WWR-K has new safety systems. Its staff has also received new training under qualification programmes.

The IAEA review mission has provided recommendations, which will help ensure continuous safety improvements.

Kazakh experts converted the WWR-K reactor to LEU in 2008 with the repatriation of spent HEU fuel to decrease proliferation risks while doubling the reactor’s utilisation capacity. The WWR-K was stopped in 2015 to implement modifications at the reactor to allow for the conversion, which was completed in 2016.

“The IAEA review team noted the implementation of recommendations of the previous INSARR mission in 2008, including those related to the management system, training and qualification of personnel and radiation protection,” said Team Leader David Sears.

He also said that additional recommendations on safety analysis, ageing management, safety of experiments and emergency preparedness were provided during this mission.

The mission conducted at the WWR-K research reactor took place from Feb. 27 to March 3 and included international nuclear safety experts from three countries that operate research reactors and IAEA staff.

The reactor is located in Alatau, close to Almaty, the commercial capital of Kazakhstan. The 6-MW research reactor is used for the production of medical and industrial radioisotopes, scientific research and testing nuclear materials for industrial use. It was put into operation in 1967, when HEU fuel was typically used to conduct scientific experiments.

INSARR is a review mission, which evaluates safety at research reactors. The mission uses the IAEA safety standards. The safety standards provide the fundamental principles, requirements and recommendations to ensure nuclear safety. They are used as global references for protecting people and the environment and contribute to a harmonised high level of safety worldwide. Research reactors are nuclear installations used for research, education and training, testing materials or the production of radioisotopes for medicine and industry.

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New international tourism route through Kazakhstan to launch in April

Wed, 2017-03-22 00:56

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – A new international tourism route passing through Kazakhstan will be launched in April, Marat Igaliyev, head of the Tourism Industry Department of the Kazakh Ministry of Investment and Development announced recently.

Photo credit: kazpravda.kz

According to the head of the department, he discussed this project with a colleague from Kyrgyzstan as part of the seventh meeting of ministers of tourism of the Silk Road countries in Berlin under auspices of World Tourism Organisation.

As part of this event, he met Azamat Zhamankulov, Deputy Minister and head of the Tourism Industry Department of Culture, Information and Tourism Ministry of Kyrgyzstan.

“We discussed the opening of a new tourism destination of the Silk Road within the Turkic Council. The launch of the pilot project of the tourism branch via Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan is planned for April 2017 and will take 12 days,” Igaliyev wrote on his Facebook page.

On Kazakhstan’s part, tourists can visit attractions in Almaty, such as Shymbulak, Koktobe and the famous Kolsai Lake.

“Later they will go to the ancient city of Turkestan that in 2017 was recognised as the cultural capital of the Turkic world. Also, foreign tourists will be able to visit the Zhambyl region, a sacred place where the Kazakh Khanate was founded,” he added.

Meanwhile during the forum of the World Tourism Organisation, Alla Peresolova discussed new opportunities for sustainable tourism development along the Silk Road. According to her, this tourism project, according to the search data, still remains the most demanded in the world among tourists.

Kazakhstan enterprises presented their tourism deals for foreign citizens at Berlin’s ITB-Berlin 2017 exhibition.

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Kazakh diaspora share joy of celebrating Nauryz with people around them

Wed, 2017-03-22 00:50

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Nauryz, an ancient eastern holiday celebrated March 22 in many Middle and Central Asia countries, is one of the favourite holidays for Kazakh people. The event is also widely celebrated by Kazakh diaspora across the world.

The Astana Times interviewed Kazakhstan-born people who currently reside in Paris, Moscow and Los Angeles to learn how they celebrate the coming of spring and their feelings about the date.

Pianist and Korkut Cultural Centre founder Aigerim Matayeva has been living for four years in Paris and pursuing her career at the Slavonic Conservatory.

“As for everyone, Nauryz is a spring holiday for me. Especially in France, spring begins March 21. As a child, I was looking forward to this holiday, because I knew that the weather would already be warm after a long and cold winter. We celebrated the New Year holidays at home, but we always celebrated Nauryz in the street. In childhood, we went to the park with my father and my mother was preparing various kinds of treats on this day. Now, March 22 is a special date for me and my husband, as we met this day,” she said.

Aigerim Matayeva

Matayeva has a tradition of celebrating the event with her family and the Kazakh diaspora. This year, a concert with the participation of young performers and visiting musicians from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey will be held at the centre.

“We hold an annual concert with my colleagues dedicated to the spring holiday. This time we also invited Melvin, the star of jazz clubs in Paris, as a guest performer. He will perform a song in Kazakh in a jazz style. The audience has a chance to go on a journey through the Great Steppe, listening to traditional kuis and jazz songs. They can also enjoy dancing and watching theatre performances. The eats and drinks that reflect both past and everyday lifestyle of nomads also will be served,” she said.

Kamshat Shakhatova, a visiting teacher at Moscow State Linguistic University (MSLU), feels the Nauryz celebration is an excellent opportunity to tell students about diverse Kazakh culture and traditions.

“Nauryz is widely celebrated in Moscow. The city celebrations with a festive programme and a trade fair are held annually at the VDNKh trade show and amusement park. This year, the holiday will be held April 1,” she said.

Nauryz celebrations at Moscow State Linguistic University

“This year, students of the Foreign Studies faculty began to study the Kazakh language as a second foreign language. They learn not only language, but also culture. We decided to organise the event March 22 at the Kazakh language and culture centre. We want to tell the students about the traditions of this holiday – how it is celebrated, what to do, what meals are prepared,” added Shakhatova.

Graduate students from Kazakh Ablai Khan University of International Relations and World Languages interning at MSLU are involved in the organisation.

Kamshat Shakhatova

“We will have an official ceremony and entertainment part, including playing games and singing songs. A rich dastarkhan (table) with traditional festive dishes such as Nauryz kozhe (the main dish served during Nauryz with seven ingredients), baursaks, samsa and sweets will also be served. The students have a task to make a presentation about how they imagine this spring holiday,” she said.

The Silk Road Festival dedicated to Nauryz took place March 17 at Moscow State University. The gala was open to all students from countries where the holiday is celebrated.

“Nauryz is a holiday of spring, renewal for me. It is associated with peace, harmony and friendship. It’s a time when you can start a brand new page of your life,” said Shakhatova.

Kazakh people living in Los Angeles plan to celebrate Happy Nauryz March 26 in cooperation with the Kazakh Student Association, said entrepreneur and head of Kazakh family living in LA Beibit Tabynbai on the group’s Facebook page.

“We have a tradition to celebrate all holidays together. Earlier, about 30 people attended our events. There were no personal interactions between the events. When I came to the U.S., I started to unite all Kazakh people and celebrate the holidays with a big company. This year, we expect that more than 100 people will join us on this day. Many of them come from neighbouring cities,” he said.

The main goal of such events is to meet friends and get acquainted with new ones. Living in another country can often cause many problems in everyday life. People want to know how to get medical care, where to go for sports, have questions about obtaining an education or where to find a job. A social gathering is a perfect platform for such discussions.

Nauryz celebrations at Moscow State Linguistic University

“People can talk and learn a lot of interesting things, find friends by interests. We support each other and help with advice. Last year, an ethnic Kazakh from China who has lived in America for many years came to us. She teaches at the university. We were pleased that she came and were proud to get acquainted with her. You feel incredible about holidays and meetings with compatriots. Such events leave only positive impressions and emotions. The celebration turns out to be something special, personal for you,” he said.

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Turkestan welcomes guests and receives status of Cultural Capital of Turkic World

Wed, 2017-03-22 00:46

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The ancient historic, architectural and religious town of Turkestan welcomed thousands of guests March 21, including an official delegation from 22 Turkic and other countries, as it received the status as the 2017 Cultural Capital of the Turkic World.

Photo credit: remotelands.com

“We have 20 hotels ready to welcome guests. Six of them are VIP-located near the square. We have a guest list. About 50 guests and as many artists will arrive here,” said deputy akim (mayor) Gani Rysbekov, reported otyrar.kz before the event.

Turkestan residents held their last preparations during these festive days. The staff celebrated a housewarming party along with guests.

Hotels have affordable prices for everyone – 15,000 tenge (US$47.50) per day for a senior suite and 3,000 tenge (US$9.50) for economy class, according to the website. Beds, textiles, electronics and essential hygiene products are all new.

The “Turkestan – a Cultural Capital of the Turkic World” project started with nationwide Nauryz celebrations and a grand concert featuring more than 230 performance groups from different countries. Performances were held on the town’s numerous concert platforms.

The activities included aitys (an ancient art of improvisation), animated feature film festivals, traditional arts, dance, a circus, opera, Turkic nations theatre, craftsmen’s fair and the Uly Dala Sazy international festival.

A media forum, forums of women from Turkic states, journalists and historians, a congress of literary magazine editors, book exhibitions, a meeting with writers, poets and press tours for media, bloggers and tour operators also took place.

Forty events were scheduled, including 21 organised by the South Kazakhstan region akimat (administration), 14 by TURKSOY, the International Organisation of Turkic Culture, and five by the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Founded more than two millennia ago, the ancient city of Yasy (Turkestan) was one of the important commercial centres on the Silk Road and the trade route between Europe and China. From the 16th-18th centuries, it was the capital of the Kazakh khanate.

Turkestan is now the historic centre of Kazakh culture, where one can discover the ruins of Otrar and admire its architectural heritage. The famous Khodja Ahmed Yassaui Mausoleum attracts hordes of tourists every year.

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UNICEF Innovation Laboratory Opens in Almaty

Wed, 2017-03-22 00:42

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has opened a laboratory aimed at improving the quality of life of children through the development and integration of information technology solutions.

The Innovation Laboratory, which opened in Almaty, is the first such laboratory in the Commonwealth of the Independent Countries (CIS) and is hosted by International IT University (IITU).

“The laboratory will help ensure adequate product design and development and UNICEF will share its programme knowledge so that those products can have maximum impact. Products developed through the Innovation Lab will be brought to market. UNICEF will support marketing nationally through its network of partners and internationally through its global network of offices and its presence in 190 countries worldwide – which provides a potentially significant outlet for innovative ideas coming from Kazakhstan,” said UNICEF Deputy Representative Fiachra McAsey at the opening of the lab.

According to the organisation’s press release, the Innovation Laboratory will cooperate and involve both internal and external partners. Also it will focus on the participation of young people in solving urgent issues related to children and adolescents through IT.

“The laboratory will serve as a platform where ideas and solutions from youth will be brought to the end products, such as mobile applications, electronic platforms and tools that are scalable within and beyond the country,” reads the statement.

The UNICEF Innovation Lab is open to students from different universities and professionals with interesting and promising innovative ideas. Successful products developed through the lab will also be eligible for start-up venture capital funding through UNICEF’s Global Innovation Fund.

“The idea of creating the centre arose more than a year ago, and UNICEF and the university have already organised two hackathons [sprint-like design events in which computer programmers and others involved in software development compete] for students from different cities. Various ideas were presented during the hackathons to solve children’s problems, such as the problem of child abandonment, child suicides, protecting children from information on the Internet, health problems, malnutrition, school violence, et cetera. In the future we plan to develop mobile applications, robotics, simulators and other gadgets in the lab,” said head of IITU Damir Shynybekov.

Similar UNICEF Innovation Labs have opened in 12 other countries since 2010, including Indonesia, Kosovo and Jordan.

“UNICEF’s global network of Innovation Labs offers a meaningful launching pad to engage with a wide range of youth and partners around innovative solution which have provided positive impacts on the lives of the most vulnerable children and their families. For example, in Uganda the Innovation Lab developed a mobile phone-based data-collection system called EduTrac, which is now available worldwide. The system enables to collect real time data including teacher and student attendance and delivery of materials. EduTrac helps districts improve their education planning and provides better and timelier supervision to schools based on system reports,” a statement by the lab explains.

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International brands succeeding, expanding on Kazakh market

Sat, 2017-03-18 01:46

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Global brands, such as Starbucks and H&M, have entered the Central Asian market and are outperforming some local companies.

“H&M will launch an aggressive takeover of Kazakhstan market. It means the rapid opening of brand sales outlets in large areas of stores,” said head of the Business Programme of Central Asia Fashion Milena Yershova, Forbes.kz reports.

She is confident in H&M’s success in the market, saying, “H&M always opens large or giant stores, which offers customers the widest choice of products. Thus, for example, in the crisis year for Russia in 2015, H&M’s flagship with an area of about 5,800 square metres was opened in Moscow. Another three large stores were opened in Novosibirsk, Murmansk and Barnaul. According to this analogy, the company will act in the Kazakhstan market too.”

The Starbucks network has been operating in Kazakhstan for two years. It looks with great enthusiasm at Kazakhstan as a country with a developing coffee industry, according to the official website of the company. At the opening of the first Starbucks coffee house in Almaty in 2015, people lined up at 7 a.m. to try the first cup of the famous coffee.

Kazakhstan residents are also interested in the opening of H&M stores, one of which will be opened at the Mega Silk Way Astana shopping centre in the EXPO 2017 area.

H&M’s marketing strategy specifies that the company manufactures products for those who want to follow fashion trends, but not spend a lot of money. According to company statistics, the audience of H&M is predominantly female. The company focuses on millennials: students, graduates of high schools, single young people or childless couples. The company’s experts consider shopping a leisure and target people who buy new things every season to stay fashionable. The brand’s values are fashion, money savings, sociality and attention to the environment.

“Against the backdrop of cost reduction and optimisation in other mass brands, such a policy brings a double result and can become an excellent bid for leadership,” Yershova said.

“I would not be surprised if a line of Muslim clothes will be presented in H&M stores in Kazakhstan. For Kazakhstan and the Central Asian region in general this is a very good direction,” she said.

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Exhibition opens marking 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s accession to UN

Sat, 2017-03-18 01:38

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The “Kazakhstan and the United Nations: Interaction for Peace” exhibition has opened in the Museum of the Library of the First President of Kazakhstan to mark the 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s accession to the UN and the beginning of the country’s activity as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Photo: bnews.com

The exhibition will continue until Sept. 1 and features archival documents, photographs and diplomatic gifts illustrating the 25-year history of Kazakhstan’s work within the UN.

“March 2, 1992 became an historic day for Kazakhstan. It was the day when Kazakhstan joined the United Nations. At the plenary meeting of the 46th session of the UN General Assembly, resolution 46/224 on the admission of the Republic of Kazakhstan as the 168th member of the UN was unanimously approved. After the meeting, a solemn ceremony was held to raise the flag of Kazakhstan in front of the organisation’s headquarters. The recognition of Kazakhstan’s merits in strengthening regional and global security was the election of our country as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2017-2018,” said Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Yerzhan Ashikbayev at the opening ceremony.

To date, 15 representative offices of the organisation operate in Kazakhstan, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), among others.

Important milestones in the development of cooperation between Kazakhstan and the UN include official visits to Kazakhstan by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Oct. 17-18, 2002 and Ban Ki-moon on April 6-7, 2010. In addition, Ban Ki-moon attended the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) summit Dec. 1-2, 2010 in Astana.

During his visit to Kazakhstan in 2010, the UN secretary-general visited the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. Ban Ki-moon also visited Astana in June 2015 to participate in the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions as a guest of honor.

On the initiative of Kazakhstan, the UN proclaimed Aug. 29 as the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Since 2009, this date is celebrated annually throughout the world. Kazakhstan also initiated the Universal Declaration for the Achievement of a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World, adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2015.

“I would like to note that Kazakhstan has clearly defined working priorities in the UN Security Council, which were detailed in the political address of the head of state. First of all, we are talking about achieving peace and freedom from nuclear weapons, renunciation of wars and forceful methods of solving any conflicts as well as the international evil called terrorism. It is also worth recalling that Kazakhstan is the first country from our region that represents the interests of the region in the UN Security Council,” Ashikbayev pointed out.

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Astana Ballet Theatre premiers “Walpurgis Night”

Sat, 2017-03-18 01:32

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The “Walpurgis Night” ballet premiered March 17-18 at the Astana Ballet Theatre in the capital.

Photo: davidherrero.com

The ballet was staged by Honoured Artist of Russia, People’s Artist of Tatarstan Georgy Kovtun who has produced approximately 300 ballets and choreographic performances for many theatres in Russia and Ukraine, including the Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky Theatres and the Vaganova Russian Ballet Academy.

About 40 people from the Astana Ballet troupe and young performers aged 10-12 from the Kazakh National Academy of Choreography performed in the production. Children performed for the first time on the stage in this premiere.

The unusually bright choreographic performance with expressive musical language, colourful scenography and spectacular plasticity was warmly greeted by audience.

The famous ballet acquired the traditions of classical Russian ballet, in which the myths and legends of ancient Greece are revived. Three-D light and other technical elements were used in this production.

“Walpurgis Night” was written for the “Faust” opera but recently it became an independent play performed around the world. I worked with the team that has been with me in many theatres of the world and the country works with me. Our artists are Irina Safronova and Irina Dolgova from St. Petersburg, Dmitry Shamov from Kazan, Kostyleva from the Mikhailovsky Theatre. And all the local choreographers. In addition, the children from the local ballet school perform in the play,” said Kovtun.

“This theatre has incredible opportunities. We used various technical aspects in the show brought by the team who made the performance. I think we are close in some parts to the level of the Cirque du Soleil performances. We want the viewer who sits in the hall to not be able to take his or her eyes off the stage. When an action holds a person, then probably there is an art,” he said.

Initially, “Walpurgis Night” was a ballet scene, which Charles Gounod completed for the second edition of the “Faust” opera, based on the tragedy of Johann Wolfgang Goethe. The scene was first staged at the Paris Opera in 1869 and became known as a one-act ballet.

The “Diversity” ballet produced by choreographer Ricardo Amarante premiered in the second part of the programme. The show is a retrospective journey into the world of ballet, showcasing how the ballet was born and what it became today. The music and costumes and movements have changed but the inspiration and beauty remained unchanged.

The new theatre that opened last December has some of the most modern and advanced equipment. The Astana Ballet repertoire currently includes 10 ballets and two concert programmes.

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Our relations are based on mutual respect, says Uzbek ambassador in Kazakhstan

Sat, 2017-03-18 01:09

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is paying a state visit to Astana March 22-23, one of his first foreign trips as the new leader of his country.Ahead of the upcoming talks, The Astana Times asked Uzbek Ambassador in Kazakhstan Ikrom Nazarov a few questions about the visit’s goals and his assessment of the bilateral relations between the two most populous nations in Central Asia.

Photo: 1news.uz

Mr. Ambassador, you have been representing your country in Kazakhstan for more than a year. How would you assess the significance and current condition of bilateral cooperation between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan?

Centuries-old fraternal ties between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have strengthened considerably since each nation gained its independence and the right to determine its own foreign policy.

I am confident that our good neighborly relations based on the principles of mutual respect will continue improving to serve the common interests of both nations.The relations between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are characterised by a high level of mutual trust and lack of any contradictions. They can serve as a role model of cooperation for any other neighbouring countries.We are pleased to witness the current achievements of Kazakhstan in all aspects of building a strong state and society, profound reforms aimed at raising living standards of the people and strengthening the state’s reputation on the international scene. All these accomplishments are inseparably associated with the name of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.In terms of our cooperation, there are prerequisites to increase the volume of bilateral trade turnover, expand the potential of common transportation and communication systems and jointly fulfil the tasks we are facing on a step-by-step basis in the framework of the agreements on cooperation signed between the two countries.

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are the two largest countries in Central Asia. In your opinion, what changes have taken place recently in developing bilateral relations between the nations?

Generally, current international relations are characterised by growing geopolitical tensions and political confrontations, radicalisation and activities of religious fanatics and escalation of conflicts in our close and remote neighbourhood.Under these circumstances, we are required to keep our peace-loving dialogue going and take joint measures aimed at a timely and adequate response to the arising challenges and threats to the security of our two nations.

Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, as Central Asia’s leading nations that possess considerable political, economic and human resources, bear a special responsibility for maintaining and strengthening the peace and stability of the entire region.

In this context, we are pleased to note that our stands on key matters of regional and international policy are in accord. Intensive and mutually beneficial cooperation in the framework of the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and other international and regional organisations attests to this fact.We stand for further development of the contractual legal base of bilateral relations. Whereas 182 treaties and agreements between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have been signed, it is essential to draw up new ones and fulfill obligations arising from the current documents.

The state visit by President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Astana is scheduled for March 22-23. What are the objectives of the forthcoming visit of the two heads of state?

The status of the state visit by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Kazakhstan is high. The format of the visit allows a thorough and comprehensive discussion of Uzbek-Kazakh relations in political, trade, economic, transport, cultural, and humanitarian areas. The two heads of states will have an opportunity to share opinions on various regional and international issues.

We expect the state visit to further continue the trustful dialogue launched in September 2016 in Samarkand. In the course of the meeting the two heads of state will review and assess the current status of our relations.

I would like to emphasise that the visit is supposed to give a new impetus to the unfulfilled potential and determine priority trends for further development of the Uzbek-Kazakh partnership.Uzbekistan’s and Kazakhstan’s economic potentials are complementary. With this in mind, great attention at the talks will be given to the advancement of trade and economic cooperation. The current contractual legal base and the documents to be signed in the course of the visit will open up new opportunities for building up mutually beneficial cooperation in this field.These efforts are aimed at raising the wellbeing of the populations in our two countries facilitating the integration of all Central Asian states into the processes of global economic development, providing inflow of foreign investments and increasing the transiting capacity of the Central Asian states.

Do you know if the Uzbek President has set new tasks in implementing the country’s foreign policy course, particularly in the regional context?

Over the years of Uzbekistan’s independent development, a comprehensive, balanced foreign policy course based on the state’s national interests has been determined. According to the concept of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy activities, the state’s “essential interests are associated with the Central Asian region.”Under the new circumstances President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has repeatedly declared the country’s foreign policy course steadfast focusing on intensification of bilateral contacts of Uzbekistan, primarily with Central Asian countries. Thus the tasks we are facing in the regional context have remained unchanged. At the same time I would like to note that pursuing the policy of peace and stability turning the Central Asian region into a zone of security and sustainable development has been a priority task not only for Uzbekistan, but for all Central Asian states.Equally important for all Central Asian states is setting up partnership among regional countries, diversifying trade, economic, technological, transport and other links among them and intensifying the process of drawing foreign direct investments and advanced technologies in respective priority branches of their national economies.

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Kazakhstan welcomes results of Syria meeting in Astana, as Russia, Iran and Turkey issue joint statement

Fri, 2017-03-17 04:38

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan issued a statement March 16 welcoming the outcomes of another international meeting on Syria held March 14-15 as part of the Astana Process.

“Kazakhstan welcomes the results of the third international meeting on Syria held on March 14-15, 2017 in Astana, where the guarantor states discussed the implementation of the agreements reached in the previous rounds of negotiations in Astana, as well as the ways to resolve military issues, improving the humanitarian situation, and studied new opportunities for expanding trilateral cooperation on Syria,” the statement said.

According to the ministry, following the results of the two-day talks, the guarantor states­ –– Russia, Iran and Turkey – adopted a joint statement where they highlighted several important issues.

Thus, the delegations of the three countries took stock of their cooperation aimed at ending the Syrian conflict and the implementation of the ceasefire regime since the previous high-level meeting in Astana on Feb. 16. They welcomed Iran’s statement to officially become the third guarantor state of the ceasefire regime, as well as reaffirmed their commitment to the consolidation and strengthening of the ceasefire regime.

The delegations exchanged information on reports of ceasefire violations and stressed the need to reduce violations through increasing efficiency of the trilateral monitoring mechanism.

They emphasised the urgent need to improve the conditions on the ground through stronger enforcement of the ceasefire regime, as well as continued their deliberations towards the eventual adoption of additional documents.

In this context, discussions were initiated on international assistance for demining the UNESCO cultural heritage sites in Syria, on confidence-building measures and other topics, which are interrelated with the comprehensive political solution in Syria.

The parties underlined the essential role for the Astana meetings in terms of complementing and facilitating the Geneva process. In addition, they welcomed the resumption of the Geneva talks, which were facilitated by the progress in the cessation of hostilities in Syria thanks to the ceasefire regime in force since Dec.30, 2016, and the results of the previous Astana meetings, in particular the creation of a trilateral ceasefire mechanism. Based on the interlinkage between the Geneva and Astana processes they expressed their support for the continuation of the talks in Geneva on March 23.

The guarantor states further emphasised that their trilateral meetings will continue at technical and high levels noting that the Syrian government and Syrian opposition representatives, as well as other parties could be invited to these meetings as observers.

According to the joint statement, the parties decided to hold the next high-level meeting on May 3-4 in Astana and agreed to hold preliminary expert consultations on April 18-19 in Tehran.

The three countries also expressed gratitude to the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and the Kazakh authorities for hosting their meetings.

In its own statement, the Kazakh foreign ministry reiterated that the Astana meetings are an integral part of the Geneva process under the UN aegis and that it considers the results of the third international meeting on Syria as a meaningful contribution to the process of political settlement of the Syrian crisis on the Geneva platform.

“Kazakhstan, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018, will continue to put its every effort to address the issues related to regional and global security, as well as the fighting against terrorism,” it said.

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Kazakhstan is fascinating place for freelancers, experts believe

Fri, 2017-03-17 02:13

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

Monica Martinez

ASTANA – The Heritage Foundation recently rated Kazakhstan 42nd in economic freedom and Numbeo, the international information portal, ranked the nation as the 119th most affordable country in which to live. Freelancing experts confirm the facts.

“Kazakhstan has a unique mix of European and Asian influences which makes it a fascinating place for freelancers, not just for those from developed countries but also from developing ones. The country boasts of friendly locals, several cities with charming attractions and a capital city with affordable apartments. Freelancers have venues for leisure with parks, plays, concerts and a broad selection of restaurants in Astana,” said Marcomm team lead Monica Martinez in a March 16 interview.

Marcomm Team manages Freelancer.com, the world’s largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace by number of users and projects. The company connects approximately 23.2 million employers and freelancers globally from more than 247 countries, regions and territories.

“Kazakhstan definitely seems like a lovely and accommodating destination for freelancers, especially because of the increase of available co-working spaces. These work spaces allow freelancers to work in the company of fellow freelancers, especially when they’re starting to feel disconnected. Co-working spaces also help spur start-ups and entrepreneurship, making the community more dynamic and supportive of freelancers,” she added.

Freelancers have the freedom to work anytime and anywhere. Being able to earn and make a living as they travel to different countries is part of the flexible lifestyle freelancers enjoy. Some prefer to stay in a new and different place with a relatively lower cost of living, but freelancers travel and relocate for many different reasons. Wherever they go, they can easily take work with them as long as those places have reliable Internet connection.

“A few years ago, we saw the rise of home offices. Eventually, ‘teleworking’ and ‘telecommuting’ were coined because of the popularity of being able to work from places outside the office. This led to another trend where freelancers don’t just work from home, but they also work from any place they want to travel to, thus the rise of ‘digital nomads.’ Digital nomads have a location-independent lifestyle. They bank on their skills and expertise, laptop and mobile gadgets and the Internet to work as they travel,” said Martinez.

“Digital nomads are usually skilled and knowledgeable in IT, graphic design, copywriting and Internet marketing. These skills are also among the most in-demand services at Freelancer.com. Being a digital nomad, however, is not limited to professionals with this expertise, since there are over 1,000 job categories they can work with at Freelancer.com. As long as they can provide services online, whether it is in the field of accounting, sciences or videography, they can pack up their bags with their laptops and work as they travel,” she added.

Martinez noted more parts of the world are either getting Internet connection or a faster one at a cheaper cost. Online connectivity paves the way for broader work and hiring options. At the same time, more and more companies and professionals make use of these options and the gig economy is on the rise in many parts of the world. Telecommuting, remote collaboration, working from home, outsourcing and the like are becoming increasingly more common.

“Nowadays, it’s common to hear about start-ups and small businesses with teams made up of freelancers from around the world. Meanwhile, professionals who have transitioned to freelancing shape their own careers and discover their own definition for professional growth. Some have made a brand out of their name, while others become entrepreneurs in their own right by putting up service businesses as soon as clients and projects pick up,” she said.

“Additionally, millennials and Gen Zers who are entering the workforce want to veer away from the usual 9 to 5. They aspire for work-life balance, doing jobs they are passionate about. They are tech savvy with a desire to explore places and opportunities. Their work style and preferences make freelancing a perfect option for them. All these leave much room and reasons for working from home to further develop,” she added.

Freelancers from developing countries have easy access to employers around the world, most of which are from developed countries like the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, said Martinez. This allows wealth to transfer from developed countries to developing ones in stronger and more stable currencies. The euro, pound and dollar have high purchasing power in developing countries, which gives freelancers the chance to earn similar rates as those in developed countries while enjoying a lower cost of living.

“Additionally, freelancers from developed countries have opportunities to take on projects that pay relatively higher than local rates. They can earn a month’s wages in a couple hours of work from the comfort of their own homes. Including their experience in working with employers from around the world is also a great addition to their résumés. In the process, they exchange culture and learn new languages which give them a broader perspective of the world,” she said.

 

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Exhibition dedicated to 25 years of Kazakh-Russian relations opens in Astana

Fri, 2017-03-17 02:09

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – A month-long exhibition titled “Kazakhstan and Russia: a strategy of eternal friendship” dedicated to 25 years of diplomatic relations opened March 16 at the National Museum of Kazakhstan.

“For a quarter of a century Kazakhstan and Russia has built a positive model of good-neighbourly relations and friendship, prolific trade and economic and humanitarian cooperation and strategic partnership. This model is based on a foundation of a high level of trust between our nations,” said Marat Tazhin, first deputy head of Kazakhstan’s Presidential Administration, relaying a message from President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

“I am convinced that the exhibition will serve the strengthening and deepening of interaction of the two countries on multiple aspects of our bilateral cooperation and will also reflect a strategic vector of good-neighbourly relations and alliance in relations between Kazakhstan and Russia,” stated Nazarbayev’s message.

The exhibition contains documents reflecting the history of Kazakh-Russian cooperation in industry, energy, space, the military-industrial complex, culture, science and education, a press release from the museum said.

Documents used at the exhibition are from the archive funds of the two countries. More than 300 agreements and contracts allow the efficient resolving of diverse tasks on interstate, intergovernmental and interregional levels, the release said, adding that some of those documents are currently exhibited.

“Materials presented at the exhibition will be able to fully demonstrate a peculiar nature of relations between Russia and Kazakhstan that have become an example of true strategic partnership and alliance,” said head of the department of Russia’s Presidential Administration on interregional and cultural affairs with foreign countries Vladimir Chernov, relaying a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The exhibition is organised by the Federal Archival Agency of Russia and the Kazakh Ministry of Culture and Sports. Government and political figures of the two countries as well as cultural and scientific intelligentsia from Kazakhstan and Russia attended the opening.

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New concept for renting houses in Astana

Fri, 2017-03-17 02:06

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Local entrepreneurs have set new trends in the hospitality industry in recent years, as the Kazakh capital has become a top tourism and business destination in Central Asia.

Ainur Nurtai by Farkhat Moldashev

 

The Room project head Ainur Nurtai and her team decided to change the approach to small business management and find a perfect business idea.

“An idea to launch a project appeared three years ago. The real estate market began to fall and preservation of assets, that is the liquidity of these assets, was a key for us. Now, it’s not real to purchase a three-room apartment for $350,000 and try to make [money] on it. This seems unrealistic in the near 10-15 years, according to our feasibility plan. At the same time, a lot of people invested in real estate and many of them have houses in Astana, Almaty, Shymkent, Atyrau and Aktau. Then, we had an idea to start a project where we could control the entire infrastructure and have access to it,” she said.

The company currently offers a range of serviced apartments with a home concept ranging from 10,000 tenge (US$30) to 25,000 tenge (US$78) per day. Rooms for rent is not a new business idea and the team decided to offer additional services including cleaning, laundry, bathrobes and change of bed linens and towels. Water, tea, coffee and some additional compliments are also available in the apartments.

“We initially did not want to provide luxury accommodations with pretentious chandeliers. We wanted to offer comfortable, convenient rooms which are specially designed for guests. Our apartments have open spaces with bright walls and furniture comfortable for those who come for a day or two. Our clients are people who come on a business trip for a couple of days,” said Nurtai.

The pricing policy is based on the competition.

“Some people tell that our rooms should be more expensive, but we know that there are hotels such as Ibis with an average price of 18,000 tenge per room (US$56). There are many other good options. We analysed the prices in the city and have set ourselves at the average price. Our customers are people who think about their budget. We have a flexible system that starts from our average cost. Sometimes, we lower the cost to 7,000-8,000 tenge (US$22-25) and increase it up to 15,000-25,000 tenge (US$47-78) if they are in a high demand according to statistics and analysis. When important events take place in the capital, we have a sales rise immediately. Our booking system offers increased costs, as it sees a lot of requests,” she added.

Apart from affordable prices, the guests can also enjoy the advantageous location of apartments situated close to financial and entertainment centres.

“We launched the project in mid-December last year. We understood that our clients liked our room design ideas and things like mirrors, perfumes and carpets. So, we are working in this direction. We are regular customers at the home design stores in Astana and Almaty. We are working on the design, depending on who is our guest. We change the chandelier, poster and set of dishes,” she said.

Despite a certain lack of advertising, the occupancy rate initially reached 70 percent.

“We have corporate clients who have signed long-term contracts with us for a fixed amount, including two Almaty companies, two Atyrau companies and a local firm. We provide accommodations according to their budgets. We rent apartments for long-term maintenance with weekly cleaning, change of linen, bathrobes and towels for 150,000 tenge (US$471) per month,” she said.

Due to rental demand, the company plans to promote services for residents of Orenburg, Yekaterinburg and Kaliningrad.

“We did an advertising campaign among our friends and colleagues in Bishkek, as we have a lot of guests from Kyrgyzstan. We are working on a strategy to find partners in Central Asia. We have received proposals to implement the project in Atyrau and Shymkent. But we do not go to large-scale companies. We do want to preserve our locality and flexibility since it is part of us,” she said.

The rooms can be booked on Airbnb.com and Booking.com. The contact number is +77755660381.

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Almaty region national parks undergo general improvements, new routes to be added

Fri, 2017-03-17 02:00

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – A new road map is to be developed, while some old ones will be revised and new routes will be added for tourists in national parks’ in the Almaty region, said Ministry of Agriculture forestry and wildlife department acting chairperson Marlen Ainabekov during the March 2 meeting regarding the region’s national parks organised at the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan (NCE).

Charyn Canyon.

“We are accepting applications now. I think by the end of 2017 we will have all those routes in the road map and will conduct ecological examination,” he said, according to abctv.kz.

The NCE pledged to take an active role in the process. Chamber services department deputy director Karlygash Altayeva stressed not only the interests of parks, but also the demand of the tourist market must be considered. Ainabekov, however, argued strongly that the main goal was not business, but preservation of the national parks.

“This issue must be addressed very carefully,” he said. “There is such a well-known expression as ‘Do no harm,’ so let’s use this point of view. We are ready for cooperation, but only according to the requirements of the environmental legislation,” he added.

The tourism sector has made numerous inquiries. Almaty tour company’s AlmatyCityTour and VDA representative Anatoly Savichev, for instance, believes guides and drivers accompanying tour groups need to be freed from paying the eco-collection. According to the current tax legislation, a mandatory ecological fee of 0.1 monthly calculation index (MCI) is collected at the entrances to the specially-protected natural territories.

“These people are at work, but each time accompanying tour groups, they have to pay a fee. This entails a small, but still increasing total cost of the trip. Is it possible to settle this issue somehow? Maybe they can make a discount or a reduced tariff for them?” Savichev asked Ministry of Agriculture representatives.

Altayeva noted the question has been addressed previously and is under consideration.

Savichev also spoke to the issue of tourist security in the parks where there are no specially-designated trails for horses.

“Tourists on horseback use the same trails and their horses’ hoofs are destroying the roots of conifer trees and luckily these trees are not falling on people,” he said.

Other issues such as the lack of indicators and signs at the Charyn Canyon and prices for snacks at the parks have been also addressed. While management took note of all the concerns, the main issue is the road to the parks.

Altayeva noted the government allots most of the funds from the national budget for road repair and construction, as regional and municipal budgets don’t cover building such roads. The Ministry of Agriculture, jointly with Deputy Prime Minister Askar Mamin, held a meeting where the topic has been flagged and such budgets will be reviewed and stipulated by regional and municipal authorities, she added.

In spite of all the areas for improvement, official statistics indicate an annual increase in the number of visitors. There are currently 12 national parks in the country, five of which are in the Almaty region: Altyn Emel (4,330 visitors in 2014, 4,098 in 2015 and 5,808 in 2016); Ile Alatau (114,665 in 2014, 117,005 in 2015 and 117,571 in 2016); Kolsai Lakes (15,899 in 2014, 18,125 in 2015, and 22,092 in 2016); Charyn Canyon (4,676 in 2014, 8,000 in 2015 and 9,603 in 2016) and Zhongar Alatau (375 in 2014, 470 in 2015 and 1,005 in 2016).

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EBRD set to refresh cooperation with Uzbekistan under its new leadership

Fri, 2017-03-17 01:56

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Uzbekistan are set to re-engage on a new level. During EBRD’s Mar. 15-17 visit to the Central Asian country, the sides intend to sign a memorandum of understanding.

Director of Communications

“We believe the time is right to re-engage with Uzbekistan,” EBRD Managing Director for Communications Jonathan Charles told The Astana Times during his visit to Tashkent.

“We see this as a new beginning. It was triggered ‎by the election of a new president. He and the Uzbek government have made it clear that they wish to pursue reform and we wish to support that. This trip is designed to cement the new working relationship between both sides and explore where we might invest. We have invested in Uzbekistan since 1993, but in recent years there was a pause. That is now over,” he added.

The seriousness of EBRD’s intentions was highlighted by EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti, who headed the delegation himself. He took part in high-level meetings with authorities in the hope of finding new ways of cooperation.

“Uzbekistan is important for the successful regional cooperation and economic development of Central Asia. I look forward to our dialogue and discussing ways of increasing the EBRD’s work in Uzbekistan, where the bank currently retains a small portfolio of projects. We already see several areas of interest, such as regional connectivity and integration, advisory services and finance for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and the financing of green energy and energy efficiency projects,” he said in a statement.

Although the EBRD has been present in Uzbekistan since 1993, there have been no “fresh operations,” the financial institution said in a statement released on the threshold of the visit.

“There is also a mutual interest in providing advisory services and financing for SMEs, in addressing the legacy of Soviet-era uranium mining and processing in the region, in exploring ways to support cross-border trade and other areas,” read the statement.

“We wish to develop the private sector and encourage entrepreneurship. We will provide financing and advice for small and medium-sized companies. We will look at regional investments and also help to clean up the uranium mining and processing sites left over from the Soviet Union. But beyond that, we will look at many other possible investments,” said Charles.

The delegation and Uzbek officials touched on issues such as exploring opportunities to deepen cooperation in order to develop entrepreneurship and the competitiveness of the Uzbek economy, for example by attracting foreign direct investment, which brings in technology and know-how.

EBRD is the largest institutional investor in Central Asia, with nearly $12.3 billion committed to projects in a variety of sectors, from infrastructure to agriculture, with a focus on private sector development. The bank has invested $958 million in Uzbekistan; its current portfolio of $8.5 million in the country is managed from Tashkent and London.

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Kazakh director wins short feature award at Barcelona film festival

Thu, 2017-03-16 06:32

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Twenty-six-year-old Kazakh actor and director Olzhas Nurbayev recently won Best Director at the Barcelona Planet Film Festival for his short film “The Boon” shot in Los Angeles.

Olzhas Nurbayev. Photo from Instagram.

“‘The Boon’ is a short feature I made for my graduation work at New York Film Academy. The film is about a homeless man whose life turns around after he finds a baby dumped in a trashcan. The film tells the story of two lonely individuals left behind by society,” Nurbayev shared with The Astana Times.

The Barcelona Planet Film Festival is a monthly international event of innovative, independent cinema from around the world by up-and-coming artists. The film was shot at an old park in downtown Los Angeles. The location helped to convey “that atmosphere of dampness and cold,” according to the director.

Starting his career in film as an actor in 2011, Olzhas Nurbayev acted for eight television series and varied projects in four years. Four of them were main parts and lead roles.

“I was lucky to have worked with reputable productions, such as Sataifilm, Korkemfilm and Basproduction. To me, a film was always alluring from within. As an actor, I always paid attention to the way a light is set, how a director acquits himself, what is happening in that playback and so on,” Nurbayev said.

He would often sit down beside directors when he was free and through the screen observe how a film is being made.

“I used to like doing that and was attracted to it for some reason. Somewhere along the line I realised that I need to make my knowledge in film more profound and made a decision to go overseas,” he continued.

Nurbayev chose to do a master’s degree in directing at New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. After a year of preparation and exams, he entered the academy via the Bolashak programme.

Prior to that, Nurbayev was hosting a programme at the Perviy Kanal Evraziya (First Channel Eurasia) local Kazakh television station.

“I have the biggest and spicy plans, but now I do not see reason to share them just yet. I simply want to film, create and tell stories through films,” he added.

At present, Nurbayev is considering a number of interesting offers. He also decided to premiere the screening of “The Boon” in Almaty.

“After some achievements that this film had at four festivals in the U.S., Canada and Spain, people often express a wish to watch the film. It is only pleasant to me. Why not, let us do it,” the director said.

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Astana to be positioned as one of leading platforms for Islamic finance, says AIFC governor

Thu, 2017-03-16 06:29

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The future and prospects of Islamic finance in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), as well as investment opportunities, Islamic capital market development and other issues, were discussed March 14 at the Islam Finance News (IFN) CIS Forum in the capital. The Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) is expected to play a major role in Islamic finance development within the region.

Photo credit: press service of AIFC

“Today, we are holding a conference on the development of Islamic finance. Astana has become the first place to discuss that matter within the CIS market. … We would like to position Astana as one of the leading platforms for the development of Islamic finance. In general, Islamic financing is one of the priorities of the AIFC,” said AIFC Governor Kairat Kelimbetov.

Kazakhstan would also use the centre as an opportunity to attract investments to the country, he added.

“The market of Islamic finance is quite large, almost $2 trillion, and now a lot of countries are interested in Islamic finance. During the previous 30 years, they were the traditional Islamic countries of the Middle East and Malaysia, but today many other countries resort to the possibilities of Islamic financing. Islamic finance has been actively developed in such countries as Great Britain, Luxembourg, Japan and Hong Kong. Kazakhstan is also considering the possibility of Islamic financing,” he said.

Islamic finance involves special legislation that implies high ethical principles which must be correlated with norms of Sharia (a system of religious law in Islam). This has prompted discussion, as some financial instruments are considered by many countries to be in strict accordance with Islamic financing, while some adhere to new ethical standards. In any case, Kazakhstan may consider becoming the pioneer in Islamic finance in the CIS countries, added Kelimbetov.

Islamic finance is one of the core pillars of the AIFC development, along with capital markets, asset management, private banking, financial technology and green finance.

“I believe that the next stage, a big breakthrough, is working within Islamic finance in the AIFC. Starting Jan. 1, 2018, we expect that there will be a lot of applications for Islamic financing licenses. We can say that in the next two years, the Islamic Development Bank plans to invest $300 million in Kazakhstan through both Islamic institutions and other tools. We, as AIFC, would like to be become the so-called ‘window’ for these investments,” he said.

Islamic finance requires implementing a special legal and regulatory framework based on English common law and in accordance with Islamic finance principles. AIFC has been appointed to act as the main body for developing Islamic finance in Kazakhstan and the CIS region and will serve as the Islamic finance gateway and the Islamic finance hub of the region.

Kazakhstan has been consistently working on creating and improving the regulatory framework for Islamic finance since 2008. The latest amendment, concerning the issue of Sukuk (financial certificates) and the conversion of a traditional bank into an Islamic one, entered into force in November 2015. That fact puts Kazakhstan in a unique position within the CIS region as the only country with such developed Islamic finance legislation.

In addition, according to the Thomson Reuters Islamic Growth Markets Investment Outlook report, in 2015 Kazakhstan was ranked fifth as an Islamic investment destination country among 57 OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) member countries.

In the last five years, CIS markets have started an active integration process due to the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). The treaty came into effect in 2015 and aims to create an attractive centre for economic development.

“Islamic finance may become one of the strongest driving forces toward the effective development of a large regional market that unites more than 170 million people, as the Islamic finance market is attractive due to its demographics and strategic location, as well as being blessed with an abundance of natural resources,” according to the press release by REDmoney, which organised the forum.

During his speech, Khaled Mohammed Al-Aboodi, CEO and General Manager of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), noted the CIS has a high potential of Islamic finance development. He emphasised Islamic finance makes it possible to diversify the sources for financing infrastructure projects. Islamic microfinance is the best tool for reducing poverty, he added.

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KAZGUU provides additional scholarships to gifted students

Thu, 2017-03-16 06:25

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – KAZGUU University (Kazakh Humanities and Law Institute) allocates 80 million tenge (US$251,440) every year for tuition fee concessions, educational grants and scholarships for gifted students who have demonstrated good academic results.

“The KAZGUU Endowment Corporate Fund was created in 2016 to support talented students offering young people, including those from socially vulnerable families, opportunities to fulfil their true potential, reach life goals and reveal natural talents. The fund was initiated in 2016 by president of KAZGUU University and a well-known public figure, [the late] Professor Maksut Narikbayev, Doctor of Juridical Science, who put his own heart into this project and invested a lot of effort into its realisation,” said Deputy Chairperson of the KAZGUU Board Nadezhda Korobko in an interview for this story.

The fund’s activity is focused on the university’s mission to make quality education more accessible. The fund aims to attract resources for the long-term financing of the university’s research, social and infrastructural programmes and projects. The fund runs numerous charity projects in collaboration with its partners, including the Taiburyl nongovernmental association, Bolashak Corporate Fund, Atameken Council of Business Women of Kazakhstan, Republican Chamber of Notaries, Ana Uyi (Mothers’ Home) Public Fund, SOS Children’s Village in Astana and ZHERSU Investment and Industrial Corporation.

The KAZGUU Endowment allocated scholarships for the students of SOS Children’s Village in Astana within the Path to the Future project initiated by Korobko.

“In the future, this project will be expanded to all the key regions of Kazakhstan.  In addition, the fund runs another charity project called Zhas Ana-Bilimdi Ana (Young Mother-Educated Mother) aimed at providing social and educational support to young single mothers. Thus, the fund is implementing several social projects aimed at supporting gifted students from socially vulnerable groups and large families. It also contributes to developing a whole range of research projects,” she added.

In Kazakhstan, KAZGUU is the first and still the only initiator of social projects among universities. The university and its official partners provide educational grants, support young people and establish scholarships and discounts for students from socially underprivileged categories, gifted graduates of schools and lyceums, holders of the Altyn Belgi award (golden medal upon graduation of school), winners of competitions and other students.

“In turn, the fund gives its partners an opportunity to open lecture halls and get the Patron’s Card, which grants access to all the educational events held at KAZGUU University, use Narikbayev Library resources and many other privileges,” Korobko added. “For example, as part of Kazakhstan’s Independence anniversary celebration, KAZGUU University launched two named lecture halls.  At the official event, attended by Timur Toktabayev, vice minister for investment and development, and other representatives of government agencies, KAZGUU was commended for its important role in educating a constellation of successful and talented graduates who have made a significant contribution to increasing the prosperity and developing the law and statehood of Kazakhstan. Launching the lecture halls marked a new step in the collaboration with the university’s major partners, represented by several national banking investors.”

Since the establishment of the fund, the university has opened eight named lecture halls. To celebrate the fund’s first anniversary, an official ceremony will be held to present the lecture hall of the Atameken Council of Business Women. Modernised lecture halls will feature modern, multimedia and multifunctional design where the university’s partners will be able to hold business events, including research meeting and seminars, and conduct lectures by the leading experts for the university students.

Support of the patrons and the fund’s official partners allowed the university to grant more than 20 scholarships to young people.

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Air Astana, Lufthansa passengers can use single code to fly on both airlines

Thu, 2017-03-16 06:22

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Air Astana and Lufthansa signed March 15 a codeshare agreement to increase from 7 to 14 the number of weekly flights between Kazakhstan and Germany. The increase will take effect March 26.

Photo credit: forbes.kz

“I’m delighted that the longstanding cooperative relationship between Air Astana and Lufthansa is being further strengthened with the signing of the codeshare agreement. Passengers flying from Almaty and Astana to Frankfurt can now enjoy a greater choice of flights to best suit their schedules and the convenience of simply using the ticket of either of the two airlines,” President and CEO of Air Astana Peter Foster said.

“This codeshare agreement is great news for our customers as it makes Kazakhstan more accessible. Passengers of both Lufthansa and Air Astana will have a much greater choice in flight options. Kazakhstan is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and we highly welcome Air Astana as our new partner and as the leading airline to and from the Central Asian region,” Lufthansa Senior Director Sales in Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Israel Axel Hilgers said.

He emphasised that Lufthansa has never signed such agreements with airlines from the territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Air Astana is the first airline from the region to have signed such contract with Lufthansa.

German Ambassador to Kazakhstan Rolf Mafael said the agreement is a positive addition to bilateral relations and will bring the peoples of Kazakhstan and Germany closer together.

The ambassador noted that this year both states celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relationship and that the partnership is strengthened further by the cooperation of the companies.

He also said Germany will have one of the three biggest pavilions at the EXPO and he hopes that as many Germans as possible will visit Kazakhstan.

Mafael said approximately 50,000 Germans, who are former Kazakhstan citizens, come to Kazakhstan each year, their former homeland, and he is glad to know the agreement will make their travelling easier and more comfortable.

Foster highlighted that new agreement is a winning step for both companies and their passengers.

Clients of the companies will enjoy the convenience of flying with a single ticket, using a single code from their airline that can be used for check in for both baggage and boarding pass and registration.

Foster also said that Air Astana will move to Terminal 1 at Frankfurt Airport to provide an increased convenience for its passengers and ease connectivity with Lufthansa.

Hilgers called Air Astana the leader in the Central Asian region and reported that all Lufthansa clients using the Miles and More programme will also be able to use it flying with Air Astana.

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Leroy Merlin to invest $31 million in first supermarket in Almaty

Thu, 2017-03-16 06:18

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – French giant in gardening, retailer Leroy Merlin is building the first of three supermarkets in the Almaty region and plans to invest $31 million in the outlet.

Leroy Merlin

“Today, the chain of supermarkets Leroy Merlin is actively developing in Russia, and we see the high potential in Kazakhstan also,” said Deputy Director General of Leroy Merlin Marc Luscher during a business conference Feb. 16.

“Now we are focused on finding partners with whom we can cooperate. For us, it is important to include products of domestic producers in the assortment of the store and create favourable conditions for the development of local suppliers. On average, our stores have up to 35,000 items, so Kazakh producers have a great chance to show themselves.”

The first supermarket is going to be 17,500 square metres along Raiymbek Avenue near the Aport Mall. Upon completion in 2018, the new supermarket will create 350 new jobs.

Two more supermarkets are to be opened by 2020: one along the Almaty-Kapshagai highway and the other near the Kuldjinskaya highway.

“For the city and for the people, the opening of Leroy Merlin will become a great event,” said Talgat Dossanov, representative of Almeo Development Group, the retailer’s partner company in Kazakhstan.

“It is also going to be a bonus for the economy – the whole ‘grey’ turnover will be eliminated from the market as it will be replaced by cashless payments with financial statements. For the city, it is also a big plus that such stores are system-forming: they garner various mini-productions around them, which, in turn, will allow small and medium-sized businesses to develop and create jobs,” he explained.

Because the company is foreign, however, it won’t be able to sell only Kazakhstan-produced goods, the management explained. Some goods will be imported from abroad, while others from Russia. However, in perspective, the more the Kazakh producers offer their products the more the chain will offer them to customers.

Leroy Merlin is the largest French retailer selling home and interior products, building materials, repair and garden products in its stores in 12 countries. In the period from 2002 to 2014, Leroy Merlin invested over $870 million in Russia and has been active in that part of the world. Today, there are 39 stores in Russia, employing more than 16,000 people. Overall, the company employs some 97,000 employees. In 2015, the company’s turnover was 18.7 billion euros.

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