WiB Trip to Central Asia, 21 September to 4 October 2019

Gulnaziya Nussupova, wife of the former Kazakh Ambassador to Germany and, until the end of her tour in Berlin, an active member of the WiB advisory board, had organized a trip to her home country for WiB members and friends that could not have been more multifarious. The trip started in the former capital Almaty, situated in the middle of the Tian Shan mountains that stand roughly 5000 m high and possess numerous beautiful lakes. The city is located southeast of the Central Asian state, about 25 km from the border of Kyrgyzstan and about 300 km from the border of China. The participants got a feel of the oriental atmosphere during a visit of the city and the bazaars. After the tour, the group took another short bus trip some 3000m from the city center. They were taken to an excursion at the Charyn Canyon, where participants had the opportunity to get to know the unique landscape of the local steppe, to walk through the rock formations of the valley of the castles, and, much to their surprise, to find respite in the middle of the semi-desert in the midst of a rapid watercourse with a green oasis.

In Nur-Sultan, the group met with Gulnaziya's husband, former Ambassador Bolat Nussupov, now Director of the Department of Foreign Economic Policy in the Foreign Ministry. They toured the capital – an impressive sight with its spectacular buildings, as well as the new Astana International Financial Centre, where the participants learned more about the country's economic potential. Afterwards, they were treated to an evening of traditional Kazakh food by former WiB member Rita Onzhanova and her husband Nurlan Onzhanov, former Ambassador in Berlin, and the current Head of the Office of the President. The German Ambassadors also kindly welcomed the participants for lunch in the German residence. The hospitality and warmth that the group experienced from their hosts was truly unforgettable.

At the suggestion of Uzbek Embassy, the international participants travelled on to Uzbekistan – a land with an interesting history that is closely interwoven with the great empire of Amir Timur, and is rich with colorful architecture. This beautiful country abounds in fertile soils, has a warm climate and many mineral resources, and is considered to hold one of the most important cultural and historical sites in Central Asia. The group learned about the invention of algebra and algorithm by Mohammed ibn Musa al-Choresmi, who was born around 780 and visited the Avicenna (Ibn Sina, 980-1037) museum and the observatory of Ulug Beg in 1424. From Khiva, whose old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to Bukhara and Samarkand, the participants were able to admire the famous mosques, madrassas (religious schools) and mausoleums that serve as unique testimonies to the flourishing trade on the Silk Road.  The group was then met by representatives of the local administration. They got to learn more about the people and culture of the country, which, to date, is still associated with the production of silk and cotton fabrics. Wine tasting, music and dance evenings rounded up the program.

On the October 3rd - in the beautiful and lush capital of Tashkent - the German ambassador had invited the group to a celebration of the Day of German Unity – a feast that had members feel closer to home.

Carmina Viertel