Saturday, April 24, 2010


Distance between Moscow-Nukus: 2160 km, average flight time is just under 4 hrs.

Uzbekistan Airways fly to and from Moscow Domodedovo (DME) Airport on Mondays  using an  A-320. A high-speed Aeroexpress train travels to and from Paveletsky-Moscow to Domodedovo Airport. Journey time: 40-50 minutes.

The Gazpromavia company of Russia has three flights a week connecting Moscow and Nukus, the capital of Karakalpakstan. From Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) airport using the new Yak-42. A fast airexpress train goes from Moscow's Kievsky railway station to Vnukovo Airport. Journey time: 35 minutes.

The cost of taking both airlines similar (see agent).

NOTE: Alongside Nukus Airport another good entry point for western Uzbekistan is Urgench Airport (UGC) located 119 Km away.(Note: Ural Airlines and Uzbekistan Airlines also serve on the Urgench - Moscow route)

Friday, April 23, 2010


Photo: Uzbekistan Airways Aircraft lined up at Tashkent Airport

Uzbekiston Havo Yullary (Uzbekistan Airways) serves as the backbone of air transportation services in Uzbekistan and is among the largest airlines services in the CIS. Uzbekistan Airways began operations in 1992 and controls passenger and cargo services to more than fifty destinations throughout the world. One of the many successor airlines to the Soviet national carrier Aeroflot with a history dating back 80 years.

Uzbekistan Airways fleet include the Airbus A300-600RF - Cargo ; Airbus A310-300 ; Avro RJ85 ; Boeing 757-200 ; Boeing 767-300ER ; Ilyushin Il-76 - Cargo ; Ilyushin Il-114 ; Tupolev Tu-154 ; Antonov 24 and the Yak 40. It also has one of the most developed airline services bases in the CIS as Uzbekistan has an advanced aircraft industry. The Ilyushin Il-76 and Ilyushin Il-114 are both assembled in Tashkent.                  Tu-154


It also has a fleet of Airbus-310, Boeing 767 and 757 aircraft for its international long haul routes. 
Boeing 757

Uzbekistan Airways services eleven airports in Uzbekistan, five of which have international status. It travels to destinations in North America, Middle East, South East Asia, East Asia, Western Europe and the CIS.



Uzbekistan Airways Technics provides technical services for all its own aircraft and aircraft engines. Including line and base maintenance for the 757/767, A310, RJ-85 aircraft, including C4-check, IL-check, SBs, structure program; also can overhaul Il-62M, Il-76(TD), Il-114 and An-2 aircraft.

Photo: UAT Tashkent



Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Central Asian peoples have always enjoyed grapes – fresh or dried to raisin, or fermented.

The climate in many parts of Uzbekistan is nearly perfect for wine production. The country enjoys a continental climate with mild winters and warm to hot summers with low precipitation in the lowlands. However in the upland valleys and mountains rainfall is one metre, more than enough for successful viticulture.

The long hours of sunshine and an abundance of large tracts of irrigated lands has created ideal conditions for the large scale development of the wine industry in Uzbekistan.

Viticulture traces its roots deeply back into history. Vine cultivation first began in the nearby Caucasus region between the Caspian and Black Seas some 5-6,000 years ago. Arabs, Greeks, and other traders are believed to have been the first to import vines from Iran into Uzbekistan by the sixth century B.C.

The Ferghana Valley has long been famous for their luscious grapes. Chinese literature recounts the introduction of grapes into China from the Ferghana Valley during the Han dynasty between (136 to 121 BC) and their planting in Xi'an, the legendary eastern terminus of the Silk Road near China's Yellow River.

Other Archaeological evidence suggests that grapes were being produced by the fifth century B.C. in the Samarkand region.

Viticulture and winemaking is known to have flourished in Uzbekistan up until the seventh century A.D. when with the arrival of Islam production was changed from wines to table grapes and raisins.

Modern wine production began again in the Samarkand region soon after the annexation of Turkestan by Imperial Russian in the middle of the 19th century. New settlers planting grape varieties from Moldova, the Crimea and Georgia.

In 1917 Uzbekistan had some 38,000 hectares of vineyards (mostly owned by individuals). By 1930 most of these vinyards had became part of state farms and collectives producing wine for both local consumption and export to other parts of the Soviet Union (mainly to Russia, the majority of which has climatic conditions unsuitable for wine production).

In 2005 Uzbekistan had just over 264,000 acres of vines (OVI) with more than 40 grape varieties being grown. About half of which are for table grapes rather than winemaking.

Popular wine grape varieties in Central Asia include Aligote, Aleatico, Bayan-shirey, Riesling, Muscat, Soiaki, Khindogny, Kuljinski, Maiski Cherny, Morrastell, Muscat Ottonel, Rkatsiteli, Rubinovy Magaracha amd Saperavi.

A number of vinyards use a mix of early and late ripening varieties so that there will be continuous harvesting for a least 120 days during a year.

Photo: One of my favourites is this dry sweet wine with Japanese style logo from Tashkent producer Meva Shabart

Uzbekistan produces many excellent brands of semi-dry or semi-sweet red wine and sparkling wines to satisfy the local market.

It exports a significant part of its production to Russia (where it is one of the top 10 importers), Kyrgystan and Kazakhstan. (Exports: Russia 60%, Kyrgyzstan 20% and Kazakhstan 15%).

The wine industry of Uzbekistan is led by Uzvinprom-Holding, which produces a wide range of fine wines and spirits. Uzvinprom includes some 65 industrial enterprises, 42 of which are engaged in bottling, 20 in primary wine making and 3 in spirits production.

In Karakalpakstan ОАО Nokis Vinozavod «Нукус вино заводы» produces 15 kinds of vodka but at present no wine. Wine grapes however are grown in southern Karakalpakstan but the production I understand is mainly for household use. In neighbouring Khoresm however their are several commercial vinyards.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Great Astronomer - Muhammad Taragay Ulugbek

The post office of Uzbekistan has issued two stamps celebrating the 615th anniversary of Ulubek's birth to coincide with the International Year of Astronomy.The two stamps are separated by a label featuring the IYA 2009 logo. The 350 Soum  stamp features the Ulugbek Observatory in Samarkand while the 750 Soum stamp has a statue depicting the great astronomer, mathematician and statesmen Muhammad Taragay Ulugbek.

Stamps commemorating the
Ulugbek Observatory in Samarkand.
Among his many accomplishments, he was the creator of a number of astronomical catalogues and tables, defining the location of thousands of planets and stars, which even today astound scientists with their accuracy.

Ulugbek was an outstanding scholar of his time and a grandson of the great Аmir Timur. He was born on March 22, 1394 in Sultania, in today's Azerbaijan. The young scholar was brought up by his grandmother, the first wife of Timur, Saray Mulkkhanim and from an early age he displayed a great thirst for knowledge. He was also tutored in theory of music and poetry and had an exceptional memory.

After the Great Amir Timur’s death in February 1405, a struggle for power started among his sons that lasted almost for 5 years. Eventually Ulubek's father, Shahrukh gained power. He made Herat his residence and gave his eldest son Ulugbek Samarkand in 1409 and then the whole of Maveraunnakhr in 1411 to govern.

With an advent of a clever and educated ruler rising to power, Samarkand soon became a major centre for scholarship and intellectual pursuit. During the years 1417-1420 he erected the first madrasah in the Registan (square) where many great oriental scholars of the age lectured. He also built two other important madrasah’s in Gijduvan and Bukhara. The inscription on the entrance portal of Ulugbek’s madrasah in Bukhara proclaims: “It is the sacred duty of every Muslim man and woman to seek after knowledge”

His major passion was for astronomy and he made the construction of a great observatory in Samarkand a key priority. His magnificent three-level observatory was completed by 1428-1429. It was a unique building of its time, built in the stony foothills of the Kuhak hills as they were believed to be more earthquake resistant. The observatory was a round three-storey building with a height of 30.4 m. At the base of the observatory was set in place the azimuth quadrant with a radius of 40.212 meters and arc length of 63 meters. The main instrument its massive sextant was orientated to the meridian line from the south to the north. Other astronomical instruments were also kept in the top levels of the observatory. The size of the sextant, its almost perfect construction and the scientific knowledge of Ulugbek and his fellow scientist-astronomers Qazi-Zadeh Rumi, Djemsnid Giyas ad-Din Kashi, Giyasaddin Jamshid, Ali Kushji, Muhhamad Havofi and others made for much more accurate astronomical observations than any until that time been performed.

The Samarkand observatory became famous after it published the "Ulugbeg Zidj" (Catalogue of the Stars) containing a theoretical introduction and astronomical charts describing 1,018 stars. This was the first such major publication since that of the ancient Greek astronomer Gipparkh (190-126 BC).

This astronomical catalogue of the celestial sky is still considered as one of the greatest historical contributions to the science of astronomy. Besides this, he wrote two other great works, one on the definition of ecliptic movement to the equator and the other on the measurements of the stellar year carried out in the observatory. He determined that the length of the stellar year to be equal to 365 days 6 hours 10 minutes and 8 seconds. Today with all our advanced technology we now known that the star year is equal to 365 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes and 9.6 seconds. Amazingly only a 61.6 seconds difference.

Ulugbek as he got older spent more and more of his time in the observatory and paid less and less attention to government affairs. His eldest son, Abd al-Latif, fell under the influence of a radical religious group (ED: nothing is new sadly) and on a pilgrimage to Mecca, Ulugbek was deceitfully beheaded with Abd-al-Latif’s connivance.After the tragic death of Ulugbek, these same religious fanatics provoked the destruction of his great observatory. The scholars, who worked in this famous scientific centre fled or were killed and the valuable library was plundered. The main building housing the observatory was also destroyed and by the end of the XVII century very little remained of the observatory.

Its location stayed unknown for a long time and it was only in 1908, did the famous Samarkand archaeologist V.L.Vyatkin find the ruins by studying old documents. He excavated the underground remains of the huge quadrant (40m in radius) which was used for the observation of the Sun, Moon and other celestial bodies and restored it to allow people to see this a great achievement of Ulugbeg.

Though he was unable to complete his work, Ali Kushji, a devoted follower of Ulugbek was able to escape Samarkand in time and took his famous catalogue of the stars to Europe where upon  Ulugbek’s name and his scientific achievements became well known. His catalogue of the stars became the most accurate astronomical guide right up until the invention of telescope. The important astronomical tome “The Catalogue of stellar sky” was published during the XVII century in Europe by the Dutchman Jan Geveliy was decorated with beautiful engravings, one of which depicts a symbolic meeting of the greatest astronomers who lived in different countries at different times Ulugbek among them. The inscription over the image of Ulugbek states "I have presented my case seriously" - where Ulugbek stands on the right arm of the goddess of astronomy, Urania.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Isupov Aleksey (1889-1957) Tea-house (Source: Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art named after I.V. Savitsky

Tea is the staple drink of Central Asia, and chaikhanas (tea houses) can be found almost everywhere in Uzbekistan full of old men chatting the afternoon away with a pot of tea in the shade.

Tea is always served to a guest immediately after he or she comes into a house. It is offered in a small cup called a piala. As a token of respect for the guest the host fills only one - half of the piala, and then, putting the left hand to his heart, with his right hand holds out this piala to the guest. At the same time the fresh flat round bread is served.

According to tradition a tea is poured from the teapot (that has just been filled with boiling water to brew) into the cup (piala) and returned to the teapot at least three times. The first returning is called "loy", the second "moy" and only after the third time it becomes "choy" or tea. Tea should always be drunk while it is hot. Only in this way it is believed that the full aroma and flavor of the tea emerge.

Uzbekistan holds one of the highest levels of tea consumption per capita in the world – 2.65 kg per capita in annually. By comparison, in Japan consumption is 680 grams and in the USA, 430 grams.

The domestic tea market averages some thirty thousand tons annually. Tea is imported with China holding (about 58%) of the market, then Iran (25%) and in third place Sri Lanka (4%). Tea being also imported into Uzbekistan via the UAE, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Russia.

There are more than thirty companies working in the tea market, with most of the main players being based in Tashkent and Samarkand where imported tea is repacked. These companies produce more than 200 types of tea; from low-grade to branded grades. Leading branded teas in Uzbekistan include “Ahmad”(UK), “Alokozay-tea” (UAE), “Beta”(Turkey), "Jambo" (Kenya) “Impra” (Sri Lanka) and “Weston”, "SAM (Samarqand Tea) and “Tashkent” (all 3 packed in Uzbekistan).

Source: Pavel Benkov (Павел Беньков). Chaihana «Чайхана» 1932 from


The chaikhana (tea-house) is an institution in Uzbekistan. It is where people come to drink tea, talk with friends and relax. Often the chaikhanas are the towns social centre within small communities. They can be quite simple,  just a small group of table/s under a tree in the shade or have a more elabotrate layout located in picturesque surroundings, shaded with trees or vines spreading their branches over a steel or wooden frame next to an aryk (small irrigation canal) or a cozy khauz (pool) full of water.

In every respectable chaikhana in Central Asia the hot green or black tea is served in a porcelain pot (Chianik). Local tea connoisseurs still debate about the merits of black and green tea, however traditionally aromatic green tea is the more popular.

Source: Uzbekistan Today

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Uzbekistan Pochtasi (Post Office) issued a series  postal stamps “Great Silk Road -Historic Monuments” for circulation on the 9th October 2009.

Old City of Khiva

The series of postal stamps were prepared in postal blocks and two postal stamps.

Samarkand  Gate Bukhara

The stamps illustrated architectural monuments of the cities, which were part of the Great Silk Road in 11th-19th centuries.

One stamp of postal block illustrates Samarkand Gate (11th c., Bukhara) another displays mausoleum of Shaikh Hovandi Tohur (14th-15th c., Tashkent) and the last shows general view of the Old city (Khiva). Each stamp shows a "Camel or a Camel caravan" which serve as an emblem for the Silk Road.
Shaikh Hovandi Tohur - Toshkent

Uzbekistan also issued a set of 6 postage stamps on 17 August 2009 to mark the 2200th Anniversary of Tashkent including one showing the Great Silk Way.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Made in Uzbekistan (Cars)

The Daewoo now GM Uzbekistan manufacturing plant is situated in Asaka, Andijan Province, 350km from Tashkent. It started production in 1996 has now has a total manufacturing capacity of 250,000 units a year. It produces the Daewoo Matiz, Nexia and Damas for sale both in the domestic and neighbouring markets.

The factory exports these reliable and fuel efficient cars all over the CIS. In 2010, about 5,000 employees were employed at the GM Uzbekistan assembly plant.

All four cars are common sites on the streets of Nukus, the Matiz and Damas being used as taxis and minibuses.





The Game of Ulak tartysh (Uloq-kupkari)

The riders in this fast-paced game are remarkable horsemen and fierce competitors.

Traditionally after the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan starts the season for one of the most enthralling of all equestrian sports known as Ulak tartysh (called Buzkashi in Tajik). A game can involes hundreds of horsemen. The match usually starts around 10 or 11 am and lasts until sundown at 5 or 6pm. The winning team receives a prize, not necessarily money, often a carpet or a cup as a reward for their win.

Competitions throughout Central Asia gather thousands of people and can cause wildly boiling emotions.

The riders in this fast-paced game are really remarkable horsemen and fierce competitors. They and their horses are extraordinarily skillful, turning amazing riding maneuvers and a repertoire of hand-held armaments to either aid or attack.

Two mounted teams often battle for the headless body of a sheep, calf or goat. To score a rider grabs the goat or calf carcass off another player or from the ground usually while riding a horse at full gallop, and then gets it clear of the other players then take it around a flag or marker at one end of the field, then throw it into a target circle or vat at the other.

The competition is typically fierce, with fighting erupting between riders over the carcass. Players may use any force short of tripping the horse in order to thwart scoring attempts and to try and steal the carcass away. As well its difficult to carry the carcass as it is pretty heavy inside filled up with wet salt and can becomes easily 40- 50 kg.

To protect themselves against the other players' whips and boots riders usually wear heavy clothing and head covers (usually a thick fur hat or tank cap).

The horses are usually specially bred and trained for the game and possess a lot of courage and are often devoted to their owners. Mostly they are stallions either pure or half pure Karabair breed (with some mongolian bloodlines or that of the Turkmen Akhal Tekke).

Uzbekistan Post: Karabair Stamp

Legend says that Genghis Khan's hordes played Buzkashi to refine their horsemanship skills. At its roots, it is also linked to the now elitist game of polo.