The silver skyscrapers of Tashkent City are intended to declare Uzbekistan’s capital ‘open for business’. But for the residents of the historic mahalla districts, the cost is extreme

Abdujalil Azimov sits on a stool listening to Uzbek pop on a transistor radio as his sheep graze contentedly in the evening sunshine on a strip of grass in the centre of Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

In front rises a line of gleaming white marble blocks containing opulent new flats. Behind him sprawls Olmazor, a centuries-old higgledy piggledy settlement of wattle-and-daub houses that harks back to the ancient history of this central Asian city that was once a pitstop on the Silk Road.

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