Year: 2023

Kazakhstan is becoming a world leader in higher education

Kazakhstan has set itself the task of internationalizing its higher education sector and turning the country into one of the world’s leading providers of education.

Despite the existence of objective challenges, the Central Asian country has already achieved a lot of work on this journey, and the current geopolitical situation in the region will only further boost international interest in Kazakhstan and its universities.

One key indicator of Kazakhstan’s progress on this journey — outlined in the country’s strategic development plan — is the share of international students at the country’s universities. In recent years, that number has tripled to more than 26,000, with foreign students now making up 4.5% of all students. The plan is to increase that to 10% by 2025 and to 20% by 2050. The government also expects that by 2025, three Kazakh universities will rank in at least two internationally recognised university league tables. By 2050, the goal is for five institutions to be ranked among the world’s top education institutions.

So, just how ambitious is this goal, what is it based on and, most importantly, how achievable is it?

Competing in the international education market is a serious challenge. Kazakhstan is entering a market dominated by giants like the United States, Britain and Europe, as well as rapidly developing players like China and India. Therefore, Kazakhstan needs to clearly understand and demonstrate what unique aspects it has to offer. 

In my opinion, one of Kazakhstan’s key distinguishing features is its special geopolitical situation. As one of the most stable and developed countries in Central Asia, which is increasing relations with both the United States and China, Kazakhstan has become a very attractive option for students not only from across its region, but also from Russia, which left the Bologna Process. Given these preconditions, demand to attend Kazakh universities will remain not only for the next few years, but also over the long-term.

This fortunate geopolitical situation is not the only ace up Kazakhstan’s sleeve when it comes to international education. The country has implemented significant reforms to the sector in recent years — culminating in joining the Bologna Process in 2010 and becoming the first country in Asia to become a part of the European education space.

I am convinced that education is a key pillar of a resilient and sustainable society. It is impossible to build such a society without institutional solutions in the field of domestic education. This notion is increasingly relevant in a world where global competition is constantly changing the rules of the game. Kazakhstan is an example of a country which understands this importance and is actively developing its education system to adapt to new challenges and requirements.

Last year, Kazakhstan was ranked 56th on the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI), entering the category of countries with a “very high” HDI score. This is the result of serious state reforms, including in the field of education, and proof that Kazakhstan is one of the most reformed countries in the post-Soviet space, with its education sector having undergone a radical transformation over the past 30 years.

The country’s progress is increasingly getting the attention of international ratings providers, with Kazakhstan’s top universities being recognised for their curriculums and as destinations for educational exchange programs within Central Asia. British analytical company Quacquarelli Symonds included 31 Kazakh universities in this year’s QS Asia University Rankings.

Today there are 117 universities in Kazakhstan — 47 of which are private. In recent years, a large number of new private universities have appeared in the country, in addition to the older — and radically reformed — state institutions. 

Many in the post-Soviet space have a stereotypical idea that commercial universities do not provide quality education and their goal is simply to turn a profit. This is far from true. Public and private universities offer different functions.

For instance, our university Narxoz is a private institution, supported by entrepreneur and philanthropist Bulat Utemuratov. But fundamentally it is a non-profit university, it does not aim to pay dividends or make a profit. All earnings and economic resources are directed towards a single purpose — improving the university through attracting and retaining high-caliber staff, developing infrastructure and offering grants to students. 

Narxoz achieved a 5-star rating in the QS rankings in several categories, including quality of education and career opportunities. In the overall rankings, it was one of 111 universities to be awarded four stars. Narxoz has the most extensive international connections of any university in Kazakhstan, including partners such as the University of Pittsburgh in the United States, the University of Helsinki, the University of Coventry in the UK and the EU Business School in Switzerland.

State universities, meanwhile, fulfill a social mission — providing broader access to higher education. From my point of view, this is a good trend, where the education sector has many different players, all taking on different tasks and specializing in different areas.

Kazakhstan’s achievements so far show the country has made excellent progress in developing its education sector. The tasks set down by the government — to boost education exports — are more than justified and achievable. However, it is also important to ensure these efforts do not turn into a blind pursuit of ratings and league tables, but instead are designed to develop the country’s human resources and scientific base.

By Marat Atnashev, Chairman of Narxoz University and Academic Ambassador of Narxoz Business School


Turning a Soviet-era university into a leading Eurasian management school

Nearly 32 years ago, Kazakhstan gained its independence from the Soviet Union and began building a market economy. It was a difficult transformation for our country and society — especially for our education system.

Dozens of new private, for-profit universities and colleges began operating in Kazakhstan. Existing universities had to change on the fly, adapting their educational programs to the new environment, competing with the new establishments, recruiting faculty with more up-to-date qualifications and competing internationally for both students and academics.

I have first-hand knowledge of the complexities involved in these processes. As a student, I secured a Bolashak International Scholarship — an initiative Kazakhstan launched shortly after independence to fund the sending of Kazakh scholars to universities abroad, to equip us with modern technical and managerial skills — and studied at the University of Wroclaw in Poland. Upon returning home, I worked as an administrator at one of the Kazakh universities in Astana, and then served as Kazakhstan’s vice minister of Education and Science for almost two years.

I’ve seen this constant process of reform, experimentation and modernisation play out from three sides — a student, a university manager, and a government minister. So in 2021 when I was offered the chance to continue this journey and become the head of Narxoz University, located in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, I gladly accepted the challenge..

To a large extent, the story of Narxoz’s development and its ambitions for the future is the story of Kazakhstan’s entire modern university sector — rapid transformation, built on historic foundations.

Founded 60 years ago, Narxoz made its reputation training the best and brightest to be top civil servants, bureaucrats, politicians and managers of public institutions and state-owned companies during the Soviet period. Education was based on the prevailing economic theories of that era, and the university quickly became recognised as the country’s top academy for teaching public administration and management.

With independence, universities from Kazakhstan were suddenly thrust into the international marketplace for education, a market economy took hold at home and the idea of management and leadership training changed almost overnight.

Perhaps the biggest challenge was new international competition. Students had a plethora of new opportunities to study abroad, with scholarships for young Kazakhs available at prestigious universities in the United States, Britain, Netherlands, Germany and elsewhere. As many of these top students continued living and working abroad after gaining a degree, they lost touch with their homeland, and Kazakhstan experienced a brain drain.

For the country to develop, it was — and remains — obvious that talented young people need to be able to study in Kazakhstan and to have access to the best educational practices in the world at home.

Narxoz set about an educational overhaul to meet this challenge and to play a leading role in modernising Kazakhstan’s university system. Most fundamentally, this meant improving and updating teaching methods, boosting research capacities, forging new international partnerships, and putting quality at the heart of the curriculum.

But that didn’t mean abandoning our heritage and core strengths, rather building on them as a national leader in public administration and management, bringing in new connections to private industry, more international expertise, learning from global best practice and helping reform the country’s entire education sector.

One of the first projects on this path was an EU-funded program in collaboration with the Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands and Italy’s Bocconi University that became the basis for nationwide changes, like the move to credit-based university courses.

After years of such reforms, several Kazakh universities signed the Magna Charta Universitatum, officially joining the Bologna Process to uphold academic standards across Europe — a key stage in the transformation of Narxoz and the wider sector.

But change is a constant progress, not a fixed goal and Narxoz is determined not to stand still in our mission to become one of the best management universities in Eurasia.

The latest phase of Narxoz’s journey is the involvement of Bulat Utemuratov, one of Kazakhstan’s leading business figures. A Narxoz graduate, Mr. Utemuratov dreamed of turning his alma mater into a state-of-the-art institution.

Since 2007 he has invested more than $70 million to develop the university. Last year, the reconstruction of Narxoz’s stylish, state-of-the-art campus was completed. The building facade, equipment and furniture were all upgraded. Environmentally friendly materials were used to create a comfortable indoor space for students. More than 30,000 trees and bushes were planted on the campus, reducing harmful emissions by about 75% and making the campus one of the most pleasant and safest places in Almaty.

The main changes, however, were not external, but internal. Outdated and unpopular educational programs were cut, and new programs based on international experience and with teaching in English were added. These programs are accredited by FIBAA, an international foundation headquartered in Bonn that assesses the quality of higher education in Europe, the United States and China.

Launching new programs and courses is an easy task — knowing when and how to get rid of those whose time has passed is much tricker. In the last two years Narxoz has cut almost 50 individual programs. It is hard and painful, but part of the ethos of quality-first. If a program isn’t accredited, international recognised, valuable to industry or has lingering questions, it needs to be put under review. We want to achieve a portfolio of quality programs that provide value to our students for the rest of their careers — something you can’t achieve without internal transformation.

Narxoz went about this process of updating its programs to serve the needs of a modern, independent state, while staying true to its founding DNA. For instance, the university launched an Applied Finance program alongside the National Bank of Kazakhstan that has today become a key training ground for future leaders in the country’s financial sector. Our faculty have also pioneered the development of the domestic accounting and audit market, drafting accounting and financial reporting laws, and participated in the creation of Kazakhstan’s Chamber of Auditors. And this year, Kazakhstan’s financial market regulator allocated grants to train actuaries at Narxoz University.

We also collaborate closely with the private sector to ensure students get an applied, rather than purely theoretical, education and stay connected with the real world, not just in academic circles. Our educational programs are developed in partnership with private business and based on practical examples. For instance, our Telecommunications Marketing program is carried out in conjunction with Beeline Kazakhstan, one of the country’s largest telecoms companies. Tourism and hospitality students spend five months undergoing training at the Ritz-Carlton Astana and Rixos Borovoe hotels, while we have also launched a program with Big Four accounting firm EY in which the company selects instructors for the course.

Even as the university sector has developed fast over the last three decades, these days competition for students is arguably even fiercer. Kazakhstan and Narxoz aren’t just competing with universities in Western Europe and North America now, but also the likes of China, Malaysia and eastern Europe in terms of attracting students.

One key part of our offering on this front is our double degree programs — where students earn degrees at two universities in different countries simultaneously — for instance, with the University of Coventry in the UK for economics, finance and accounting and with Mykolas Romeris University in Lithuania for law programs.

Looking to the future, I think it’s entirely realistic to focus not only on encouraging the best Kazakh students to study inside the country, but even on attracting international students to come here. Thanks to its academic development and campus investments, Narxoz is already attracting students from abroad — both from traditional neighbors like Uzbekistan and Russia, as well as emerging economic powerhouses like India and Nigeria. At the moment, around 5% of our 6,000-strong student body are international students.

Our ambitions there secured a big boost this year, with Narxoz being recognised in top international university league tables, used by millions of students around the world when choosing where to study. For instance, QS’s World University Rankings 2024 awarded Narxoz four stars, the same as the likes of the University of Central Lancashire in the UK and the American Institute of Applied Sciences in Switzerland. We secured the highest-possible five stars in several categories that have been core focuses of our reforms — teaching, employability and inclusiveness.

Three decades after the journey of transformation started, such recognition is testament to the hard work and difficult choices countless people are responsible for. I hope it will serve as motivation for Narxoz and Kazakhstan’s wider university sector in the years ahead as we continue our mission to become one of Eurasia’s top management schools.

About the author: Dr. Miras Daulenov is the President of Narxoz University, a leading economics, business, finance, and law university in Kazakhstan. His past positions include Vice Minister of Education and Science in Kazakhstan from 2019-2021, and lecturer at the University of Wroclaw from 2009-2012, among others. He has also worked on development projects with the World Bank and other institutions.


Nature-based solutions reduce environmental damage caused by mining

Dr Brendan Duprey* outlines how Kazakhstan is employing innovative solutions to reduce air and water pollution caused by mining tailings.

Mining activities pose a risk to the environment. After valuable metals are extracted from ore, often involving the use of chemicals, millions of cubic metres of contaminated waste rock remains, which is deposited in mine tailings. These tailings cause numerous environmental problems, including airborne dust particles, water pollution, landslides, and dam failures, as exemplified by the infamous incident at Vale’s Brumadinho site in Brazil in 2019.

Kazakhstan, a resource-rich country in Central Asia, has adopted a scientific approach to mitigating the environmental damage caused by mine tailings. The Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute (SKRI) has developed a technology for creating a vegetative barrier to capture harmful particles from the air (“phytocapture”) near mining facilities. Utilising ENVI-met software and a powerful computer, the institute conducted 3D modelling and calculated that the planting of trees and shrubs, if properly planned, can reduce air pollution around these facilities by up to 40%.

SKRI has gone beyond scientific research, however, having implemented its phytocapture technology in practice at the Altynalmas gold mining company in Kazakhstan. Near the company’s Aksu mine, SKRI staff planted rows of silverberry shrubs, which can grow up to 1.5 metres in height and effectively capture large dust particles. A second perimeter was planted with rows of maples and elms, which, thanks to their height and dense canopies, are effective at capturing fine dust particles carried by the wind. As the trees grow, this project is moving closer to achieving the targeted 40% reduction in air pollution.

SKRI initiated a similar project this year at RG Gold, another Kazakhstani gold mining company, which is co-owned by American private equity firm Resource Capital Funds. Through the project, the SKRI team aims to plant thousands of  trees and shrubs. The research institute considers improving the environmental situation in Kazakhstan and protecting the health of the people living near mining facilities to be of paramount importance.

According to the United Nations, air pollution affects 99% of the world’s population and leads to 6.7 million premature deaths annually. With each breath, people inhale tiny particles that can harm the lungs and lead to cardiovascular problems. Among these particles, the most dangerous are fine solid particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns (PM 2.5) – precisely the type found in the air near mine tailings.

In May, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE, one of five regional commissions within the UN, which brings together 56 countries) held a regional conference on the Convention on Mine Tailings Safety and Industrial Accidents. During the conference, the solutions developed by SKRI were presented as advanced practices for ensuring the safety of tailings.

Considering the industry’s needs, SKRI has also begun developing two major nature-based solutions for reducing water pollution from mine wastewater. One involves planting trees in special “wells” made of impermeable materials, allowing the root system to absorb pollutants from deep groundwater layers in the soil.

The other solution involves placing special mats made of biochar and peat at the bottom of channels or streams to absorb pollutants. The Dutch company Tauw Engineering has laid such mats at the bottom of a contaminated canal near an old asphalt plant in Ghent, Belgium.

SKRI, in collaboration with Tauw, is now conducting trials of these technologies in Kazakhstan and at the mine tailings of the Ak-Tuz rare-earth mine in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.

* Dr Brendan Duprey is Director of the Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute, Narxoz University


How an international outlook stemmed Kazakhstan’s brain drain

Miras Daulenov | 28 October 2023

This year, the university of which I’m president broke into some of the most reputable international university rankings for the first time in our 60-year history. It was a proud moment for all of us involved with the institution, representing the latest milestone in a three-decade journey of transforming a Soviet-era university into a modern, cutting-edge teaching and research centre.

More than anything, perhaps, it demonstrates the importance to universities of taking an international outlook, embedding a global mindset and forging international partnerships.

The university is Narxoz, a leading private university in Kazakhstan which specialises in management, public administration, economics, finance, law and social sciences. This year it was recognised by both the QS World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.

QS awarded us five stars – the highest-possible score – in several categories: teaching, employability and inclusiveness, and gave us four stars overall, on a par with institutions such as the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom and the American Institute of Applied Sciences in Switzerland.

This is a significant achievement for us and demonstrates how far Kazakhstan’s higher education sector has come since gaining independence with the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

For many years after the Iron Curtain came down, thousands of talented young Kazakhs would go abroad to study every year: to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, China and elsewhere. Often, they stayed in those countries after graduating, contributing to a brain drain and depleting Kazakhstan of the skilled leaders that our public administration and private enterprises were crying out for.

But rather than fight the growing trend of internationalisation in higher education, Narxoz saw the opportunities in embracing new market-based principles that had come to Kazakhstan.

We needed to compete on quality and to start giving students access to the best, most inclusive, employer friendly and globally recognised education, ensuring that young Kazakhs could get a world-class education without having to abandon their homeland.

Going international

Embedding an international outlook has been key to that transformation – bringing a global education to our campus in Almaty. That task has spanned everything from recruitment of faculty to launching multilingual courses and double-degree programmes.

In total, Narxoz now has more than 75 international partners in 30 countries, including leading universities in the United States, Europe and Asia. In recognising Narxoz among the world’s top education establishments, QS specifically highlighted the success of our graduates, international reputation and the share of foreign teachers as strong attributes.

Sustainable development

The university looked both to the East and the West for inspiration and collaboration.

One of the first projects was a European Union-funded capacity-building programme in collaboration with the Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands and Italy’s Bocconi University that became the basis for nationwide changes, like the move to credit-based university courses.

Meanwhile, the creation of the Kazakh-Japanese Centre for Human Resource Development enabled Kazakh entrepreneurs and business leaders to learn modern Japanese-influenced management practices, including the chance to study at the University of Tsukuba with financial support from the Japanese government, as well as helping to bolster Kazakh-Japanese relations.

International faculty have also helped put the university on the map, leading innovative projects, bringing new expertise to Kazakhstan and enhancing our cooperation with various institutions.

For instance, American expert Brendan Duprey, the director of our Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute, is leading a project to capture phyto particles – the smallest particles of dust and dirt from industrial production facilities – at gold mining companies in Kazakhstan.

The initiative was recognised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe as one of the best environmental protection practices in the world.

Kazakhstan nominated another of his studies, on incorporating a component of the Sustainable Development Goals into the school curriculum, for the joint UNESCO-Japan Prize on education for sustainable development.

Projects like this helped secure Narxoz recognition in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for four years running – a league table that specifically looks at a university’s contribution towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. On our impact in advancing quality education, we were ranked alongside the University of Helsinki in Finland, the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and the University of Ottawa in Canada.

New opportunities

Narxoz University’s latest embrace of combining historic tradition as a leading national management school with new international opportunities has evolved since 2007, with a multi-million-dollar investment programme from Verny Capital, which as well as supporting the university directly also provides grants and scholarships to students, who have to pass competitive entrance exams to secure a place at Narxoz.

The investment has helped the university not only make practical investments in a new campus and building upgrades, but also further strengthen its international credentials, for instance, by hiring new faculty.

Among the latest international recruits to come on board is the Czech Professor Marek Jochec, whom we were able to lure away from Nazarbayev University. Narxoz also strives to hire Kazakhstanis who have made their academic career abroad, rather than just expats, such as Anel Kulakhmetova, who received her doctorate from the University of Cambridge in the UK and spent a long time conducting research at UNICEF.

One of the most important aspects of our international approach has been our double-degree programmes, where we partner with European universities to offer students the chance to earn two degrees in two jurisdictions through one programme. For this, we work with strategic international partners – a must for ambitious universities.

For instance, our bachelor of business administration dual-degree programme with Coventry University in the United Kingdom works on a 3+1 format, with students spending three years in Narxoz and one year in Coventry, receiving a diploma from both at the end of four years.

We run a similar initiative for our law students with Lithuania’s Mykolas Romeris University, with joint tuition from professors at both institutions included from the first year.

For our students, these programmes are an excellent offer that can help address the ‘brain drain’ issue – providing students with the chance to get an international degree without the full costs of studying abroad or having to sacrifice their domestic connections.

Double-degree programmes also offer students the chance to gain experience with an international company through internship opportunities, opening up the chances to build a career either in Kazakhstan, internationally, or a mix of both.

An international mindset

But taking an international approach to education doesn’t just extend to offering study abroad programmes or recruiting foreign faculty. It’s also about the mindset and overall approach at your home campus.

One recent reform we’ve introduced is a move to teach all our bachelor of business administration (BBA) programmes in English. For the upcoming academic year, Narxoz is introducing British BBA programmes in finance, economics and accounting. These will prepare graduates with the sort of practical management skills that employers need.

Meanwhile, the university’s annual Ryskulov Readings conference has attracted international Nobel Prize winners such as James Mirrlees, Edmund Phelps and Christopher Pissarides, alongside dozens of other international researchers and university administrators.

When 32 years ago independence opened the gates of the international university marketplace to Kazakhstan, our universities – including Narxoz – were playing catch-up on the international stage.

Now we are hosting Nobel Prize winners, teaching business degrees in English, recruiting faculty members from around the world and have students from more than 25 countries, including India, Nigeria, the United States and Austria.

Thanks in part to embedding an international approach, learning from global best practices and focusing on internationally accredited courses, Narxoz has become part of the solution to Kazakhstan’s brain drain.

Dr Miras Daulenov is the president of Narxoz University, a leading economics, business, finance and law university in Kazakhstan. His past positions include vice minister of education and science in Kazakhstan from 2019 to 2021, and lecturer at the University of Wroclaw in Poland from 2009 to 2012, among others. He has also worked on development projects with the World Bank and other institutions.

SOURCE: University World News

Innovative solutions applied to some of world’s most pressing sustainability challenges

Brendan Duprey | October 27, 2023

July 2023 was the hottest month in the entire history of meteorological observations on Earth. Thousands of tourists in Greece tried to escape from wildfires caused by the abnormal heat. Residents of the southwest United States suffered from the scorching heat as well. In northwest China, the temperature exceeded 52°C, breaking national records.

The natural phenomenon El Niño became more active; it is linked to the warming of waters in the tropical part of the Pacific Ocean, posing a threat of new natural disasters in 2024.


In November 2023, COP28, the annual UN-led Climate Conference, will commence in Dubai, UAE, to discuss strategies aimed at limiting global warming to 1.5°C by mid-century.

Decarbonization, pursued by industrialized countries that are transitioning to renewable energy sources and electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions, is one such strategy. Another method to address climate change involves nature-based solutions, a vital complement to not only decarbonization but also the restoration of natural ecosystems vital for human existence.

Kazakhstan has been taking measures to achieve decarbonization while also incorporating nature-based solutions. Kazakhstan has set a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 15% by 2030. To accomplish this, the country, which has historically been dependent on fossil fuels, is increasing its share of renewable energy. Kazakhstan’s largest industrial enterprises, including ArcelorMittal Temirtau, KazMunayGas, and KazZinc (a Glencore subsidiary), are implementing emission reduction programmes.

Furthermore, the Kazakh government is implementing a programme to plant 2 billion trees by the end of 2025. This initiative aims to improve the country’s environmental situation by enhancing air quality and combating desertification.

Another practical nature-based solution developed by the Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute (SKRI) at Narxoz University is the establishment of a vegetative barrier to capture harmful airborne particles in the vicinity of urban road systems and mining enterprises, which are among the primary sources of air pollution. The Institute calls this technology “phytocapture”.

Why is this significant? According to a United Nations assessment, air pollution affects 99% of the global population and results in 6.7 million premature deaths annually. With every breath, people inhale minuscule particles that can harm their lungs and lead to cardiovascular issues. The most perilous of these particles are fine particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns (PM 2.5), containing various pollutants ranging from industrial dust to sulphates.

The SKRI team has already incorporated its phytocapture technology at the mining site of Altynalmas, a Kazakhstan-based gold producer. The Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute is one of the pioneers when it comes to using artificial intelligence to determine the best ways to reduce the level of toxic pollution in urban areas and industrial sites in an effort to improve human health. Using EMVI-Met software and a high-performance mainframe computer, the SKRI team conducts 3D modelling of specific designs of vegetation around urban road systems and mine tailings dumps in order to reduce dust pollution as much as possible and thus improve human health. Our modelling has scientifically proven that such designs can reduce dust pollution by as much as 40% and harmful gases like ozone by as much as 70%, thereby improving air quality.

One specific example is our work at the Aksu mine. The SKRI team planted rows of silverberry shrubs in the vicinity of the mine tailings dumps. These shrubs can reach heights of up to 1.5 metres and are effective at capturing larger dust particles. At a slightly greater distance, rows of maples and elms have been planted: these tall trees with dense foliage are adept at trapping fine dust particles carried by the wind. Currently, we are implementing a similar project at a mining site belonging to RG Gold, another Kazakhstan-based gold producer that has invested in nature-based solutions research as part of its ESG strategy.

In the framework of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE, one of five regional commissions within the UN, which brings together 56 countries) regional conference on the Convention on Mine Tailing Safety and Industrial Accidents, the Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute’s nature-based solutions were presented as best practices for mine tailings safety and the prevention of industrial accidents.

Based on industry demand, the SKRI is expanding their portfolio of work in this sector to use nature-based solutions to combat water and soil pollution caused by mining waste.

There are two primary methods for the prevention and mitigation of wastewater deriving from mining operations. One involves planting trees in a unique manner, within “wells” made of impermeable material, allowing the root system to absorb pollutants from deep groundwater layers in the soil. The other method is the placement of special mats made of biochar and peat on the bottom of channels or streams to absorb pollutants. In collaboration with the Netherlands-based company Tauw Engineering, we are conducting tests of these technologies in Kazakhstan, as well as at a tailings dump belonging to the rare-earth mine Ak-Tuz in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.

In addition to conducting scientific research, the SKRI’s mission also includes sharing best practices and exchanging knowledge with experts and industry leaders. All stakeholders are invited to take part in the online international conference ‘Global Solutions to Mine Industry Waste Water: From Research to Practice’, which will take place on 2 November, from 14:00 to 17:00, in Almaty (GMT+6). Click here to register.

Dr. Brendan Duprey is Director the Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute, Narxoz University


Bublik Serves Past Fils To Antwerp Title

Kazakhstani lifts third ATP Tour crown at ATP 250. 

Photo Credit: Kazakhstan Tennis Federation

Alexander Bublik delivered a serving masterclass on Sunday to power to victory at the European Open.

The third-seeded Kazakhstani beat #NextGenATP Frenchman Arthur Fils 6-4, 6-4 in Antwerp to claim his second tour-level title of the season. Bublik clinched a decisive break of Fils’ serve in each set and saved all three break points he faced to improve to 3-6 in ATP Tour finals.

«I was pretty much serving all match,» said Bublik in his on-court interview. «I told Arthur I was very lucky to beat him in a final before he becomes the next big thing. That was the only option I had, and I executed it well.»

The 26-year-old maintained his rhythm behind his delivery all week en route to the trophy. After dropping just one of 37 points behind first serve to propel himself to a 75-minute victory against Fils, Bublik lifted the trophy at the Belgian ATP 250 having won 136 of 148 points behind first serve across his run.

Bublik also won a tour-level crown on indoor hard courts in Montpellier in 2022, while he added a grass-court ATP 500 trophy to his tally in June by winning in Halle.

The Kazakhstani will rise six spots to No. 30 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on Monday as a result of his Antwerp run, just five spots shy of his career-high. «Honestly, when we won the second title, I [said to my coach], ‘Maybe that’s it, maybe we will never win another one’,» joked Bublik. «It was the greatest feeling ever, so being here again, winning another title, it means the world to me.»


Astana Adventure: A Self-Experiment

A first-time visit to the capital city of Kazakhstan.

ASTANA, October 4, 2023

Always wanting to explore one of the “Stan states” of the former Soviet Union in the context of a tennis tournament, Uzbekistan has long been at the top of my list. However, no Challenger events have taken place in Uzbekistan since the Covid hiatus. Meanwhile, many players have shared their experiences in Kazakhstan, where the local tennis federation has been organizing several professional tournaments for years. What I heard was overwhelmingly positive, compelling me to dive into the Central Asian metropolis myself.

Ever since the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation (KTF) seized the opportunity to acquire a license for an ATP Tour event during the 2020 pandemic, the ninth-largest country in the world has found its place on the international tennis circuit. Last year, it even briefly upgraded to an ATP-500 event, featuring top-tier players like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz, and Novak Djokovic in Astana. The Serbian superstar emerged victorious.

“Our ambition is to popularize tennis right here at home in Kazakhstan, and to make Kazakh tennis known abroad. We’ve elevated tennis in Kazakhstan from a once unpopular sport to one that everyone can play, while the Astana tournament week has made it a sport that everyone wants to play,” said Bulat Utemuratov, President of the Kazkhstan Tennis Federation.

“Holding an ATP tournament would not have been possible without years of investing in the infrastructure required to support a tournament of such high global engagement. Since 2007, we have invested into building the right infrastructure, launching youth tennis programs, and supporting talent. As a result of our investment, Kazakhstan now has 364 tennis courts, both hard and clay, four times the number compared to when we first started.”

Astana – The Capital in the Steppe

The metropolis of Astana, which translates to simply “capital,” has changed names multiple times over the past decades and is located almost in the center of the Saryarka, the Kazakh steppe. Hot summers and extremely cold winters characterize the climate. The distances in the city, which is the second-largest in the country with 1.3 million residents, can be quite extensive. A subway or the planned maglev train? Not yet. However, taxi rides or an Uber journey in sometimes adventurous American or Asian cars are an extremely affordable way to get around.

In 2017, Astana hosted the Expo World’s Fair. The buildings in the city center give the impression of a Western-Eastern capital with Turkish and local influences. Additionally, there are numerous new monuments, notably the Bayterek Tower, now considered the symbol of Astana, and many skyscrapers forming an impressive skyline. The city appears as a melting pot of modern architecture, rich history, and cultural diversity.

One of the most impressive streets is the Nurzhol Boulevard (Radiant Path), flanked by the tent-shaped Khan Shatyr shopping center to the west and the Presidential Palace to the east. A planned city within Astana, which, beyond, still reflects its original side. It’s said that Astana is a city of contrasts, capturing the soul of Kazakhstan.

“Kazakhstan is conveniently located between Europe and Asia. Given the world’s tennis calendar, the Astana Open is an important event in between tournaments in the Americas and tournaments in Asia. This provides an opportunity for players to participate in the Astana Open while en route to Asian tournaments, thus allowing them to accumulate valuable ranking points,” said Utemuratov.

“Last year’s experience demonstrated that hosting an ATP 500-level tournament enables us to attract higher ranked players, boost our revenue, and generally increase enthusiasm for the game. Ideally, we’d attain permanent ATP 500 tournament status.”

Austrians thrill at the tournament

At the beginning of this week’s Astana Open, it wasn’t foreseeable that the tournament, now listed as an ATP-250 event, would turn into an Austrian tennis festival. With Sebastian Ofner, Dominic Thiem, and Jurij Rodionov, three representatives of the Alpine republic found themselves in the quarterfinals of an ATP event for the first time in the Open Era.

Ofner, who, after Kitzbühel 2017, reached his second semifinal on the ATP Tour at the Astana Open and was defeated by eventual champion Adrian Mannarino, was quite impressed with the Central Asian metropolis. “I really like the city,” said Ofner, who had participated in several Challenger events in Kazakhstan. Some of these, like the Astana Open, are held at the spacious KTF complex. “Everything is very clean and looks very modern. I’ve been to several restaurants, and everything is flawless.”

Thiem, who lost to Ofner in a thrilling quarterfinal match in a Beeline Arena filled with around 1,800 spectators, was in Kazakhstan for the second time. “I was here 10 years ago as a sparring partner for the Davis Cup,” recalled Thiem, likely due to extreme temperatures back then. “The tournament took place in January, and it was minus 30 degrees. Experiencing such cold was quite something.”

With milder conditions in early October 2023 – the thermometer regularly exceeded the 15-degree mark this week – the former US Open champion explored the city. “A lot has changed since my last visit. There has been a lot of construction. Unfortunately, you experience less of the outdoors at indoor tournaments. But we went out a few times, and overall, it’s a cool city,” concluded the Lower Austrian.


ATP 250 Astana Open: Results & Tournament Overview

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Oct. 3, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — France’s Adrian Mannarino, ranked 34th in the world, was crowned champion of the ATP 250 Astana Open in the capital of Kazakhstan on Tuesday defeating world number 28 Sebastian Korda (USA) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, in the final.

In the doubles tournament, the American duo of Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow beat Mate Pavić (Croatia) and John Peers (Australia) 7-6(7-4), 7-6(9-7). In 2021, Lammons and Withrow won the ATP Challenger 125 tournament in Astana.

Adrian Mannarino, President of KTF Bulat Utemuratov, Sebastian Korda  Photo Credit: The Kazakhstan Tennis Federation (PRNewsfoto/Kazakhstan Tennis Federation)
Adrian Mannarino, President of KTF Bulat Utemuratov, Sebastian Korda Photo Credit: The Kazakhstan Tennis Federation (PRNewsfoto/Kazakhstan Tennis Federation)

After the final, Korda and Mannarino thanked the audience for their incredible support.

Adrian Mannarino said: “It’s been a great week for me with a lot of fans coming and cheering for me. I’m barely cheered like that, even in France, so it was really nice to have this atmosphere during all week”. He added: “I’m always happy to be back in Astana, it’s been my third time this year, I feel very welcomed and I’m really looking forward to be back next year”.

Sebastian Korda said: “I want to thank Mr Bulat Utemuratov for the incredible tournament. It’s my fourth time here. It is always a big honor to be back in Kazakhstan.”

About Astana Open

Astana hosted ATP 250 tournaments in 2020-2021, and in 2022 it staged its inaugural ATP 500 series. This year the players who competed in Astana included world number 26 and winner of the ATP 500 Halle Open Alexander Bublik, the leader of Kazakhstan’s national team; Davis Cup winner, 19-time ATP winner and former world number 3 Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland); another former world number 3, Dominic Thiem (Austria); and junior grand slam winner and former junior world number 1, Sebastian Korda (USA).

Across the tournament in Astana, 16,000+ spectators attended the matches. The Kazakhstan Tennis Federation brought children from its tennis centers across the country, with over 1,000 children attending the tournament every day.

Forty broadcasters covering 110 countries held TV rights for the tournament. In Kazakhstan alone, the total TV audience reached 2 million. The tournament was covered in print and online globally, with 150+ Kazakh and international journalists accredited for the tournament.

Tennis players participated in philanthropic events organized by the KTF. Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Bublik and Sebastian Korda visited the “Asyl Miras Autism Center”. Sebastian Korda and Adrian Mannarino took part in a traditional tree planting ceremony on the “Alley of Champions” at the National Tennis Center.

Photo –
Photo –
Logo –

SOURCE Kazakhstan Tennis Federation–tournament-overview-301946344.html

The labor of love behind the dream of Astana becoming a permanent ATP Tour stop

The 250-level event has solidified itself as an Asian swing regular, but bigger aspirations hardly stop here.

By Matt Fitzgerald

Bublik Kids' Day Astana 2023

In late September, the ATP officially returned to China for the first time since 2019 with a pair of 250-level events in Chengdu and Zhuhai. A pre-pandemic calendar sees players back at the likes of the China Open and Shanghai Masters, mainstays of the post-US Open swing. But an emerging tournament has since joined the Asian swing as a dependable tour stop.

The Astana Open debuted in Kazakhstan three years ago behind mostly closed doors when the ATP offered up opportunities for promoters to stage events in new locations under single-year licenses, given the challenges presented by COVID-19. Astana thrived, resulting in the tournament’s return in 2021. Having purchased a permanent license at the end of that year, the event received a one-time elevation to 500 status in 2022.

Getting to this point has been a labor of love, much in part to the passion and imagination of Bulat Utemuratov, president of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation (KTF). For the past 16 years, more than $100 million has been invested locally by the entrepreneur and philanthropist to establish an all-encompassing infrastructure centered around delivering direct access to quality courts, high-level coaching and reliable financial assistance.

Bublik is a combined 14-9 (11-6 in singles) for Kazakhstan in Davis Cup play.
Bublik is a combined 14-9 (11-6 in singles) for Kazakhstan in Davis Cup play.
© Andrey Udartsev /

Grassroots, Grand Stages

Utemuratov’s vision to popularize the sport within his nation’s borders has taken shape from a 360-degree view. Since 2007, youth participation has skyrocketed from 1,500 to 30,000 children (for reference, Kazakhstan’s population of just under 20 million is roughly about the state of New York). Elena Rybakina won the 2022 Wimbledon singles title, Anna Danilina captured the 2023 US Open mixed doubles title and Kazakhstan’s Billie Jean King Cup team is ranked No. 7. Alexander Bublik cracked the Top 25 in July, weeks after celebrating his first 500 title in Halle. Kazakhstan now boasts more than 360 hard and clay courts with hourly court time costing under $10.

All that said, bringing world-class tennis to his backdoor is a major driver to the present and future health of Kazakhstani tennis, believes Utemuratov.

“I think it’s important to host large international tournaments to keep it going. Now in Kazakhstan there are several highly-rated sports that are growing in attractiveness, and tennis is already firmly in the top five most popular of them all,” he told

Last week, Utemuratov was re-elected for a third term on the board of directors for the International Tennis Federation (ITF), where he serves as vice president.

“We’ve elevated tennis in Kazakhstan from a once unpopular sport to one that everyone can play, while the Astana tournament week has made it a sport that everyone wants to play,” says Utemuratov. “The tournament has further popularized tennis and is showing our young players that just like Kazakhstan can become a global tennis center, they can become global tennis stars. The Astana Open has shown the next generation’s champions and young players that it is possible to train and play at home, and also succeed internationally.

“It’s one thing to send all your good national tennis players to compete abroad, but it’s another thing to gather all the world’s great players to compete with your own at home. We really wanted to put Kazakhstan on the world tennis map.”

I think it’s very important for the country and for the children to know not only Alexander Bublik or Elena Rybakina, but to know that there are other people out there, and that there is room for these children.

Alexander Bublik

Bublik has experienced first-hand the impact of Utemuratov’s blueprint, as a player with grand aspirations and as a role model who is proof of concept for what’s possible. A representative of Kazakhstan since November 2016, Bublik is thrilled that the dedication of his federation has resulted in achieving a permanent ATP tournament status.

“I first arrived in Kazakhstan back in 2016, it was a dream that we would have an ATP Tour event. It was only a dream,” Bublik shared in an email. “They worked hard to get a permanent license in Kazakhstan. That’s a big step forward for us and for our country. I can see the difference—the development is huge, kids are everywhere and they know players.”

Children are top of mind for event organizers throughout the tournament. Last year, when the event boasted major star power with Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev and reached capacity, kids without Beeline Arena seats were provided special cushions to sit on steps for their chance to see the trio of major champions in action (the main court seats about 2,000). As of today, girls make up 55 percent of youth playing tennis according to the KTF. Clinics are a mainstay throughout the Astana Open, with Bublik owning his place as a main character to the goals of the initiative.

“During the tournament we do our best to bring top players closer to kids, to inspire them and bring them joy. We host special playing sessions and autograph signing for children and believe its important to take a holistic approach to inclusivity, eliminating barriers when it comes to gender, disability, and income,” says Dias Doskarayev, vice president of KTF.

“Alexander’s passion shines through when representing the Kazakhstani national team, where he stands as the lead player. Naturally, young tennis players in Kazakhstan look up to him as a role model, and he reciprocates their admiration. Alexander enjoys conducting masterclasses for kids, imparting new skills and generously sharing his wealth of experience with them.”

Fans in attendance at this year's edition of the Astana Open.
Fans in attendance at this year’s edition of the Astana Open.
© Andrey Udartsev /

Bublik has long held the position as his country’s No. 1-ranked ATP player. When he’s home, the 26-year-old recognizes the influence he has on growing the game locally and embraces the responsibilities of ensuring progress moves forward as one of his top career goals. On kids’ day last week, he bonded with more than 200 children and proudly observed as their knowledge shone through when peers Tallon Griekspoor, Adrian Mannarino, Jiri Lehecka and Alexei Popyrin joined in the activities.

“I think it’s very important for the country and for the children to know not only Alexander Bublik or Elena Rybakina, but to know that there are other people out there, and that there is room for these children,” says the world No. 35. Take 100 spots. It sounds like a little, but I think that everyone has a chance and it’s important to be able to transmit this to children and explain to them that it’s not only a dream, it can become a reality one day, and very soon.”

“It sounds like five, six or ten years of hard work but then all of a sudden you’re there, you’re on the stadium and you’re playing Centre Court at Wimbledon. So, I think for children it’s very important to have this connection between the best of the best in the country. Talking about me and Elena, I think Elena is doing a phenomenal job. After she won Wimbledon, I’ve seen a lot of children, especially girls say, ‘I want to be like Elena.’ So, I am very proud of what we’re doing for the country.”

Big Names, Big Picture

Ranked just about 100 spots behind Bublik is Kazakhstan’s No. 2, Timofey Skatov. Among the 22-year-old’s steps forward this year include successful main-draw qualifications at Roland Garros and the US Open. Skatov opted to take a different scheduling approach by entering a pair of clay-court challengers in Portugal in favor of playing Astana, though he will always have fond memories of picking up his first tour-level match win on home soil in 2021.

“There was actually something funny about that day. I played my first ATP 250 in 2020 and lost really bad. I had gone without my coach since we couldn’t manage to get him a visa, because of COVID restrictions at the time,” he recalled. “So then the next year, I went with my coach and everything was ready, but at the last minute he got sick and had to stay at the hotel that day to watch the match on TV. So I had to play without him again, but finally won this match which felt so rewarding.

“it was a really nice day and win for me. All [of] our tournaments are always extremely organized and welcoming. The KTF really wants all players to have a positive experience.”

Fifth seed Sebastian Korda will play sixth seed Adrian Mannarino for this year’s singles crown on Tuesday. Korda will contest his second final of 2023 after finishing runner-up in Adelaide at the start of the season.
Fifth seed Sebastian Korda will play sixth seed Adrian Mannarino for this year’s singles crown on Tuesday. Korda will contest his second final of 2023 after finishing runner-up in Adelaide at the start of the season.
© Andrey Udartsev /

For Utemuratov, he naturally has his sights on much more. His next target for the Astana Open is taking it from a 250 to a 500 after seeing what the 2022 edition did for increasing the strength of its player field, driving revenue and propelling overall interest in the sport. With someone like Rybakina just beginning the prime of her career, the visionary is wide open to incorporating a WTA Tour event into his big picture (Astana held a one-off event in 2021).

“We like to think that the KTF can act as a guide for other federations seeking to develop sports in their country, not only because of our success in building our tennis scene from scratch, but also because of our success in internationalizing it. Hosting an ATP tournament helped a lot in this,” Utemuratov says.

“We are considering hosting an annual WTA 250 tournament in Almaty. This would require additional support from the KTF, as sponsors and broadcasters unfortunately tend to undervalue women’s tennis in comparison to men’s tennis. We aim to inspire even more interest and investment in women’s tennis and to make tennis one of the most inclusive and gender-balanced sports out there, as we believe it to be.”

In March of this year, it was revealed that Rybakina had bestowed 35 million Kazakhstani tenge (about $73,311 today) to fund 14 grants for girls hoping to one day join her in the pro ranks. The 24-year-old was further inspired to give back after reading letters addressed to her by a crop of young women.

“It was just big help for me when I started [as a] professional, from the Federation, so I was thinking that there is going to be good way to thank back,” Rybakina said at the Miami Open.


© Bulat Utemuratov
All rights reserved.