President Nazarbayev Receives Global Islamic Finance Award
Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev received the Global Islamic Finance Award (GIFA) for his role in promoting Islamic finance and banking at the 10th World Islamic Economic Forum in Dubai on Oct. 28.
“Since 2009, Kazakhstan has been the leader in the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] and Central Asia in the field of legal implementation of the principles of Islamic finance. Currently, a number of Islamic financial institutions provide services in Islamic banking, insurance and leasing in Kazakhstan,” said the President. He also said that Kazakhstan would increase its contribution to the development of Islamic finance through international organisations.
The GIFA celebrates the achievements of individuals, institutions and governments in promoting Islamic banking and finance and ensuring that it remains committed to social responsibility. Previous GIFA laureates include former Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Abdullah Badawi and former Prime Minister of Pakistan Shaukat Aziz.
Kazakhstan was the first CIS state to develop a partnership programme with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and the bank opened a branch for IDB members and Muslim communities in the CIS, Mongolia, China and Eastern Europe in Almaty in 1997. Currently there is an Islamic bank acting on Kazakh market, Al-Halal, established in 2007.
Kazakhstan’s presidency of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2011-2012 and the initiatives set forth by the OIC Astana Declaration are considered a major success in Islamic banking. Kazakhstan, as an economic and cultural bridge between the East and the West, has a role to play in fostering cooperation among Muslim and non-Muslim businesses.
Addressing the forum, President Nazarbayev highlighted the relevance of its theme, “Innovation partnership for economic growth,” and the need for enhancing cooperation in the face of global threats and challenges.
“We stand on the threshold of the third industrial revolution. Members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation control 70 percent of global energy resources and export 40 percent of mineral raw materials. However, only 7.5 percent of global gross domestic product and 11.2 percent of total global trade accrue to OIC countries,” Nazarbayev said. The Muslim world is facing serious problems, including population growth, poverty, gradual depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation, he said, and called for strengthening cooperation and development in the Islamic world.
During his visit, President Nazarbayev met with Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to examine the possibilities of implementing a number of projects on the Caspian Sea and cooperating on the Khorgos transportation hub. He also met with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel to discuss cooperation in trade and economics, investment, industrial innovation and culture.
Chairman of the National Bank of Kazakhstan Kairat Kelimbetov and Chairman of the Central Bank of the UAE Mubarak Rashid Al Mansouri also met during the official presidential visit, signing a memorandum of understanding on establishing cooperation between the two banks in financial supervision and developing Islamic financing to ensure financial stability in the two states.
Kelimbetov also met with Chairman of Malaysia’s Central Bank Zeti Akhtar Aziz to discuss bilateral cooperation and Malaysia’s experience in Islamic finance. He also exchanged opinions with members of the Gulf Bond and Sukuk Association on developing Almaty as a regional hub of Islamic finance for the CIS and Eastern Europe.
The World Islamic Economic Forum is an annual economic summit of the heads of OIC member states. This year’s forum was attended by more than 2,500 participants from over 140 countries who discussed developing resilient models for developing economies, Islamic finance’s pivotal role in enabling trade and streamlining the halal supply chain, socialising education and the role of universities, retaining young talent, sustainable urban planning and creating smart infrastructure and holistic communities.
Kazakh Aid to Focus on Central Asia, Afghanistan, Says FM
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov reported on the draft law “On Official Development Assistance” at the plenary session of the Mazhilis (lower chamber of Parliament) on Oct. 29. The draft law is intended to regulate Kazakhstan’s burgeoning official development assistance programme.
The draft law is designed to implement President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s decree of April 9, 2013, “On the Concept of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the sphere of official development assistance.” According to Idrissov, the draft law was developed by an interdepartmental working group that included 17 state bodies.
“The uniqueness of the project, not only for our national legislation, but also for the whole CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) territory, where only two countries have a national system of development assistance, must be noted. These are Russia and Azerbaijan, but even they do not have relevant laws,” Idrissov said.
“I would like to note that the participation of such authoritative international partners such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), allowed us to ensure the best global practices at all stages of preparation of the draft law. In addition, close work has been done with experienced national donors such as South Korea, the U.S., France, Japan, Turkey and others,” he added.
Idrissov also noted that the project first directs the systematisation of existing activities of official development assistance (ODA). International experience shows that ODA is an effective mechanism for improving stability and prosperity in the region and the world. Development assistance is also another tool for creating favourable external conditions for the development of the country – one reason many countries have formed national ODA systems in the past century.
An ODA system will also help create external conditions for the successful implementation of the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy and its goal of achieving high living standards for the population of Kazakhstan, Idrissov noted.
In his words, Kazakhstan, as a regional leader, cannot afford to stand apart from problems in the region, where some countries are actually on the verge of becoming failed states. “Existing risks may even worsen after the withdrawal of international coalition troops from Afghanistan,” Idrissov said. “Therefore, the main geographical focus of providing ODA will be Central Asia, Afghanistan, and the Caucasus in the long term. There is no country in our region, except Kazakhstan, that is able to provide such systemic support.”
A national system of international development assistance is one of the essential attributes of states seeking to become the most developed countries of the world. With its economic development and growing international profile, Kazakhstan’s responsibility for ensuring international and regional security and stability is increasing, Idrissov said.
There are also external factors prompting the development of this draft law, the foreign minister noted. Kazakhstan was recently reclassified as an upper middle income country. In addition to burnishing the country’s image, this imposes some responsibility on Kazakhstan for what is happening in the world, as well as increases the expectations of international community of Kazakhstan’s capabilities. The attitude is, “You received support and became stronger; now help others,” he said.
The foreign minister is convinced that it is impossible to ensure steady growth in isolation and in an unfavourable socio-economic environment. It is no coincidence that many new donors, he said, are countries with gross domestic products that are less than or comparable to Kazakhstan’s, per capita.
Kazakhstan to Celebrate 550 Years of Statehood in 2015
Kazakhstan will celebrate 550 years of statehood next year. The country, which has been a crossroads of migration and cross-cultural encounters for millennia, marks 1465, the year the sultans Kerei and Janibek founded the Kazakh Khanate, as the year of its birth. The two sultans had split with the Uzbek state of Khan Abulkhair in 1459.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev noted the upcoming anniversary in a meeting with the Astana city administration on Oct. 22. “In 1465, Kerei and Janibek created the first khanate and it is to that time that [Kazakh statehood traces its roots]. Perhaps, it was not a state in the modern sense of this term, within the present borders; without fame and prestige in the world [that is has today]. But these words can be said about all of the other states of that era. The important element is that the foundation was laid, and we are the followers of the great deeds of our ancestors,” he said.
However, the President said, harmony and peaceful coexistence, which he called the hallmarks of modern Kazakhstan, must trump overzealous nationalism.
“Certain persons are apt to rename everything and name the streets and institutions in one language. This should be stopped. I want to say it again: do not manifest patriotic zeal where unnecessary. The constitution clearly spells out all the rules relating to the rights of ethnic groups and languages. It is our advantage, our hallmark in the world as a stable, multi-ethnic state,” he said.
Kazakhstan is home to some 130 ethnic groups and a multitude of religions and languages. After experiencing some repression during the Soviet era, Kazakh was named the official language and efforts are being put into its revival as a language of business and culture. However, the policy of the President is that Kazakhstan must be a trilingual nation, retaining the Russian language and aiming for national fluency in English as well.
The country’s history has also gotten a new treatment in time for its anniversary in a collection of essays and visual information, including photographs, maps, artefacts and other illustrations. “An Illustrated History of Kazakhstan: Asia’s Heartland in Context,” will be released by Hong Kong’s Odyssey Books and Maps in November. The book traces the history of a territory that it says has been “a crossroads for human migration around the world” since the Stone Age.
“Telling the ‘story’ of Kazakhstan through the ages illustrates its many significant roles in human history: it served as a fulcrum for early human migration throughout Eurasia and the wider world; it was one of the most important centres of bronze metallurgy during the Bronze Age; its steppes were the crucible for Iron Age nomadic warrior societies that would change the world order; and its bustling southern cities were vital links along the many trade routes of the classical Silk Road of antiquity,” the book begins.
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China, Kazakhstan sign agreements expanding social cooperation
A cooperation agreement between the Foundation of the First President of Kazakhstan and China’s People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) was signed during a visit of a delegation from Kazakhstan’s Mazhilis (lower chamber of the Parliament) to China.
“We are very interested in Chinese experience in healthcare, education and social security; existing problems and their solutions,” said Dariga Nazarbayeva, head of the delegation, at a meeting with CPAFFC President Li Xiaolin. Li noted the association seeks to enhance cultural and humanitarian cooperation as well as develop the Silk Road Economic Belt.
CPAFFC was founded in 1954 and has 370 public association partnerships in more than 120 countries. (inform.kz)
Kazakh GDP expected to grow 5 percent in 2014
Chairman of the National Bank of Kazakhstan Kairat Kelimbetov predicted an increase in the country’s gross domestic product by up to 5 percent at the end of 2014 in a press conference in Astana on Oct. 21. From January to September of this year, the GDP grew 4 percent and the ministry expects overall economic growth of 4-5 percent. According to results from the first half of the year, the current account surplus is $6.6 billion, two times higher than the same index for the first half of 2013. He noted that the increase was caused by a trade surplus of 17.4 percent, up to $22.6 billion. Kelimbetov also reported that overall inflation in 2014 would be 7.4 percent and the national bank also announced a revision of the forecast GDP for 2015-2017. (inform.kz)
Croatia to open embassy in Kazakhstan
First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusic of Croatia announced that her country would open an embassy in Kazakhstan during a meeting with Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov on Oct. 29.
“Kazakhstan has received high assessments for its investment climate, which facilitates Croatia’s mission. We are also working on developing relations between the business circles of the two states. To this end, we are opening a diplomatic mission in Astana next year, which will eventually transform into a permanent Croatian embassy,” said Pusic.
Preparations for President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s visit to Croatia are going well, Pusic said. The Croatian president received an invitation from Nazarbayev to participate in EXPO 2017 and is conducting negotiations on cooperation in the energy industry, she reported. At the end of the meeting, the parties signed an action plan between the foreign ministries of the two states. (bnews.kz)
Astana hosts KazAgro and KazFarm exhibitions
Astana’s Korme exhibition hall hosted the international exhibitions KazAgro 2014, dedicated to the agriculture and food industry, and KazFarm 2014, on the livestock and meat industry, from Oct. 27-29. Agriculture is a priority sector of Kazakhstan’s economy, and one of its fastest-growing.
The exhibitions were attended by more than 250 companies from 18 countries. The event was organised by the Expo Group international exhibition company, with official support from Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Agriculture, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Germany, the Astana city administration, the KazAgro joint stock company, the Alliance of German Engineers and the Chamber of Commerce of North Dakota, and sponsored by the Rostselmash Combine Plant nongovernmental organisation. (inform.kz)
Space Days in Kazakhstan 2014 to be held in Astana
Astana will host the Nov. 13-14 second international seminar, “Space Days in Kazakhstan,” dedicated to the first results of Kazakhstan’s Earth remote sensing system (RSSE RK).
“This year, Kazakhstan became the owner of a complete space system for Earth remote sensing, with two remote sensing satellites functioning in orbit and a ground-based centre,” said Chairman of the Aerospace Committee of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Investment and Development Kazakhstan Talgat Musabayev.
Kazakhstan’s first national Earth remote sensing space system will be presented, as will advanced systems and technology solutions in the field of remote sensing, geo-information systems, geodesy and satellite navigation in Kazakhstan. Solutions and workshops on applying remote sensing data using high-accuracy satellite navigation systems and creating geo-information systems, as well as images from Kazakhstan’s satellites will be presented.
More than 200 local and foreign experts are expected to attend. (inform.kz)
Kazakh tech start-ups to be presented, mentored in Singapore
The five winning start-ups of Kazakhstan’s Go Global Programme will be on display in Singapore from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15. The winners will complete a start-up acceleration programme there, which is expected to be a first step toward introducing Kazakhstan’s businesses to Southeast Asia. The competition winners include PhoneBooth, a mobile application for optimising call centre spending, and Mobiliuz, a platform providing cars with access to the Internet to examine on-board computer data and provide detailed reports on the car, the user’s driving style and fuel consumption. Other winners are the e-wallet system WoopPay, VA3S (Video Analytics As A Service) and the Pleaple communication platform. These start-ups will get market and technical expertise as well as recommendations from Joyful Frog Digital Incubator Asia mentors Alena Arens and Hugh Mason. (tengrinews.kz)
Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin to fight Martin Murray in 2015
Undefeated middleweight champion from Kazakhstan, Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin, is set to fight World Boxing Council (WBC) silver middleweight champion Martin Murray on Feb. 21. K2 Promotions and Golden Globes have agreed to arrange the showdown between the World Boxing Association (WBA) Super and WBC interim champs in Monaco. “He has crushed everybody who he has been in with, but I think I have got the tools to beat any middleweight out there,” Murray said of Golovkin. “And I wouldn’t be taking the fight if I didn’t think I could win it. I think a lot of his opponents have gone into the fight already beat, whereas you won’t get that with me,” Murray said. (inform.kz)
Astana Ballet performs in South Korea
The Astana Ballet performed the one-act ballet “Alem” last weekend at Seoul’s Yeouido KBS Hall, one of the South Korean capital’s largest concert halls.
“Alem” is based on an ancient Kazakh legend about the origin of life and combines classical, modern and national dances created by composers Bulat Gafarov and Armand Amar. The performance was directed by Russian choreographer Nikita Dmitrievskiy. This is the first major independent work by the young team from Kazakhstan and its first world tour. Performances have already been positively received in Vienna, Paris and Moscow. The performance in Seoul concluded this year’s concert tour. (mfa.gov.kz)
Cuban wrestler wins Alem Barysy title
Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Vidal Bryson of Cuba won the international Kazakh kuresy (Kazakh wrestling) tournament Alem Barysy, held in Pavlodar on Oct. 25. Bryson outclassed Kazakhstan’s Aibek Nugymarov in the final bout. Alem Barysy is the first Kazakh kuresy international tournament with a $150,000 prize fund. “We gathered the best fighters from around the world, the tops on their teams,” said Kazakh Kuresy Federation President Arman Shurayev. “Among them are the European, Australia and Oceania and world champions. I think that it will be a very serious, spectacular battle. We want to hold the tournament for that purpose, to put on a show and let the world witnesses our [national] martial art. … I think in about five to six years, this type of wrestling will be as widely known as Japanese sumo,” he said. Russian fighter Maxim Shiryayev collected the bronze medal. (astanatimes.com, inform.kz)