Uzbekistan-the center of Ziyarat Tourism

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Uffaq Khalid

Research Associate, Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR)

In East, “Ziyarat” refers to a form of pilgrimage to Holy sites associated with the dignitaries and venerated personalities.  Ziyarat tourism is rapidly growing across Muslim countries every year.

Uzbekistan is a basket, full of history, diverse cultural heritage and vibrant colors. Located in the heart of Central Asia, the country belongs to two major rivers: Amudarya and Syrdarya.

Uzbekistan occupies a significant place in combining the Islamic values and human civilization. It is one of the eminent countries, played a pivotal role to the propagation of Islamic culture. The cultural revival and preservation of sacred sites is evidence in this regard.

Uzbekistan is home to dignified Islamic scholars and Saints. Imam Al-Bukhari, Al-Hakim At-Termizi, Sheikh-ul-Islam Al-Marghinani, Imam Maturidi and Bahauddin Naqshband are the few dignified figures of Uzbekistan. These scholars made invaluable contribution to the hadith collection and interpretation of Quran and left a rich heritage of Islamic knowledge. Uzbekistan is a land of famous scientists that are known all around the globe. Ibn Sina, Al-Biruni and Al-Khorezmi are the few prominent names who rendered remarkable services in the fields of philosophy, physics, astronomy and medicine.

The Uzbek culture is deeply infused with the history of the Silk Road.  The famous oasis towns of Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva and Tashkent are the hotspots of tourism in Uzbekistan. The ancient Shrines, monuments and architectures, which belong to diverse religions, are still preserved in the country.

Ziyarat tourism is steadily increasing in Uzbekistan. In recent years, several measures are being taken to develop pilgrim/ziyarat tourism in the country. Tourism websites, memorandums of cooperation on Ziyarat tourism, and special flights for the pilgrims are the few initiatives that have been taken by the Uzbek government to further promote Ziyarat tourism. A visa-free regime has been launched in 2018 for the people of Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey to avoid official delays. The Prophet Daniel Old Testament, Mausoleum in the tomb of Imam Bukhari, the Ottoman Quran, Kara-Tepa and Fayaz-Tepa are the distinguished holy sites for the pilgrims from all around the world.

Bukhara hosted the first International Forum on ziyarat tourism in 2019, where Uzbekistan was recognized as the center of ziyarat tourism. According to the Global Muslim travel Index, Uzbekistan is listed among the ten most attractive countries among the member states of OIC.

Pakistan and Uzbekistan share the 25 years of diplomatic relations and they have deep cultural and historical roots. Their relation dates back to the independence of Uzbekistan as Pakistan was among those countries that first recognized the independence of Uzbekistan. Since then, the two countries are closely collaborating on multilateral forums for the well-being and stability of the entire region. In the War against Terror, Uzbekistan always stood by Pakistan and acknowledged globally the services and sacrifices rendered by the people of Pakistan. Pak-Uzbek cordial relations have been further strengthening in recent times because of the rise to bilateral tourism and joint efforts to bring harmony in the entire region.Since 2019, the tourism co-operation between Pakistan and Uzbekistan are reaching their highest levels. The initiative of Ziyarat Tourism by the Uzbek President, Shavkat Mirziyoyev is receiving special admiration from the international tourism market. In 2020, the Uzbek Embassy in Pakistan presented a certificate of awarding the title of Ambassador of Ziyorat Tourism to the son of leader of the Naqshbandi tariqa teaching in Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Pir Muhammad Naqib-ur-Rehman, Pir Muhammad Hasib-ur- Rehman. The newly appointed Honorary Ambassador appreciated the efforts of Uzbek government that are being made to retain the Islamic heritage and assured to promote ziyarat tourism in Pakistan. Pakistan, being an important trade juncture, is working day and night towards building access to the Central Asian markets and enhancing regional connectivity.

In the plethora of such initiatives, there is a ray of hope for the advancement of Pak-Uzbek relations in the coming years. With the special focus on bilateral trade and cultural harmony, both countries can play a crucial role in fostering peace process and economic revival in the region.

For more than two centuries, Uzbekistan has been bewitching the tourists with its magnificent architecture and holy relics. This showstopper of Central Asia is ready to inspire, host and spellbound the visitors through its cultural heritage.