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Pearly Jacob

Tbilisi, Georgia
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About Pearly
I'm passionate about pursuing environmental and cultural stories and just as obsessed in capturing cinematic moments in human stories. I write and I film. I've been published and broadcast by Al Jazeera, BBC, VOA, National Geographic, Bloomberg Quicktake, CCTV News (Now CGTN), Dutch Channel VPRO, Global Post (now part of PRI), CNN's cinematic platform Great Big Story and more. 

I've also filmed and produced advocacy short-docs for MAC Georgia, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF), Czech NGO People In Need (PIN) etc.
Assamese English French
Video Package (Web / Broadcast) Audio package (Radio / Podcast) Documentaries
Science & Environment Social Cultural

Mongolia: Reindeer Culture Hangs On in Far North

04 Apr 2024  |  eurasianet.org
The article discusses the Tsaatan community, a small ethnic group of nomadic reindeer herders in northern Mongolia. The Tsaatan have faced challenges such as shrinking reindeer populations, changes in their nomadic lifestyle due to state interventions, and health issues among the reindeer. In the 1970s, the Mongolian government halted their nomadism and began harvesting reindeer antlers for Chinese medicine, which led to a decline in reindeer numbers. After the collapse of Communism, the Tsaatan returned to herding, but faced further crises due to disease and loss of veterinary support. Tourism has become a vital source of income, and there is hope that the younger generation, like Narang, the first qualified veterinarian from the region, will help improve the health of the reindeer and sustain the community's way of life.

Paddling through the time of sand

04 Apr 2024  |  outlookindia.com
The article recounts the experience of the author who, while cycling in Mongolia, encountered harsh winds that made it impossible to pitch their tents. Seeking shelter, they found an abandoned railway cabin and a nearby ger, a traditional Mongolian tent. The occupant of the ger, who was milking his camels, noticed the travelers and invited them into his home. Inside the ger, they were given stools by the stove and served salty Mongolian milk tea, providing them with a warm and quiet refuge from the wind.

Khevsuri Fare at Pictograma in Tbilisi

30 Jan 2024  |  culinarybackstreets.com
Chef Gela Arabuli opened Pictograma in April 2022 in Tbilisi to serve authentic mountain khinkali, rejecting the common pork-filled 'city style' dumplings. Pictograma's khinkali are handmade with beef and traditional spices, and the menu features rare Khevsurian dishes. Gela, a native of Khevsureti, also runs a mountain guesthouse and has crafted the restaurant's tables, incorporating cultural symbols. While Pictograma is popular with Georgians familiar with traditional cuisine, it remains a local haunt despite its proximity to a tourist area.

Chakapuli: The Taste of Georgian Spring

31 Jul 2023  |  culinarybackstreets.com
The article discusses the Georgian spring dish chakapuli, a lamb stew that is a staple at Orthodox Easter feasts. Originating from Kakheti, the dish is made with lamb or veal, white wine, tarragon, spring onions, coriander, garlic, and sour green plums called tkemali. The author notes that while chakapuli is available year-round in restaurants, it is best enjoyed in season. The article includes a personal experience of making chakapuli, with advice from local winemaker Andro Barnovi of Wine Artisans and wine purchased from Wine Gallery. The author also provides a detailed recipe for chakapuli, including adjustments made for taste and a reflection on the enjoyment of the dish as a standalone meal.

A Taste of Racha in Tbilisi: Ghebi's Homely Georgian Cuisine

02 Jun 2023  |  culinarybackstreets.com
The article is a review of Ghebi, a restaurant located in Tbilisi, Georgia, known for serving traditional Georgian cuisine from the Racha region. The author describes the restaurant's atmosphere, its location on Aghmashenebeli Avenue, and the variety of dishes offered, including lobio, lobiani, skhmeruli, and chvishtari. The head chef, Guram Gavasheli, is mentioned as a native of Racha and the oldest employee, who insists on the authenticity of the dishes. The restaurant is praised for its consistent food quality, affordable prices, and the ability to cater to both traditional and modern tastes. Ghebi has expanded from seven to over twenty tables since its opening and remains a popular local haunt despite the emergence of more upscale dining options in the area.

Teenage girl leads family business in tech repair and vintage electronics restoration

05 Apr 2023  |  euronews.com
The article features Mariam Ben Nakhi, a 13-year-old girl from Tbilisi, Georgia, who has a unique passion for repairing phones and computers. Under the guidance of her stepfather, Thomas Burns, a former Hollywood cinematographer and electronics enthusiast, Mariam learned to fix electronics at the age of nine. Together, they launched 'Mariam's Computer Repair', a family business that has become a popular electronic repair hub in Tbilisi. The article also highlights their interest in old Soviet electronics, which they salvage and restore. They share their restoration projects on their YouTube channel 'Workshop Nations' to promote a culture of repair and to preserve these vintage items. The article emphasizes the importance of electronic waste awareness and encourages the repair of broken gadgets instead of discarding them.

India’s little-known Mizo tribal cuisine

30 Mar 2023  |  bbc.com
The article by Pearly Jacob explores the little-known Mizo tribal cuisine of Northeast India, particularly in Mizoram. It describes the region's unique culinary practices, which are distinct from mainstream Indian cuisine and include dishes like bai, a brothy stew, and smoked pork with mustard leaves. The Mizo people's diet is rich in wild edible plants, herbs, and generous portions of meat. The article also touches on the history of the Mizo people, their cultural ties with Southeast Asia, and the influence of Christianity on the region. It highlights the challenges of spreading Mizo cuisine beyond its borders due to ingredient availability and discusses the potential for Mizo food and medicinal plants in the export market. The article concludes by noting the growing interest in Mizo cuisine among locals and tourists, and the potential for tourism to promote the region's food culture.

Partners caught on different sides of the yearlong conflict reflect on how it has affected their relationships.

19 Mar 2023  |  aljazeera.com
The article explores the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on mixed-nationality couples, focusing on their personal stories and the challenges they face. Oksana, a Ukrainian pianist, and Sergio, a Russian archaeologist, recount their love story and the strain the war has put on their relationship, including their move to Georgia and the difficulties of finding employment and discussing the war. The article also tells the story of Mariam, a Russian-Georgian filmmaker, and her Ukrainian boyfriend, highlighting the tensions and taboos in their conversations about the war. It discusses the psychological effects of the conflict on relationships, with insights from psychologists Diana Khabibulina and Dr. Darejan Javakhishvili. The article also touches on the broader societal impact of the influx of Russian exiles into Georgia and the resulting local sentiments. The personal narratives illustrate the complex interplay of love, politics, and identity in times of war.

The viruses that prey on human diseases

15 Mar 2023  |  www.bbc.com
The article discusses the resurgence of interest in phage therapy, a treatment using bacteriophages to combat bacterial infections, as a potential solution to antibiotic resistance. It highlights the historical use of phages, particularly in the Soviet Union, and the work of the Eliava Institute in Georgia, which has continued to research and apply phage therapy. The article features a case study of a French cystic fibrosis patient, Esteban Diaz, who experienced significant health improvements after receiving phage therapy in Georgia. Despite the promise of phage therapy, the article points out regulatory challenges and the lack of pharmaceutical industry interest due to the inability to patent natural phages. It also mentions the role of Belgium in approving phages for personalized medication and the need for more clinical trials and research funding. The article suggests that while the Eliava Institute's contributions are often overlooked, its work is crucial to the current global discussion on phage therapy.

Some Russians escape country, war in Ukraine, to a 'fairytale' retreat in nearby Georgia

15 Mar 2023  |  hometownlife.com
The article by Pearly Jacob for USA TODAY explores the complex situation of Russians fleeing their country to Georgia to avoid conscription and participation in the war in Ukraine. It focuses on Chateau Chapiteau, a commune in Georgia founded by Vanya Mitin, which has become a haven for Russian exiles. The piece delves into the moral dilemmas faced by these Russians, their sense of guilt, and the reactions of Ukrainians and Georgians to their presence. It also touches on the broader geopolitical implications of the war and the historical tensions between Russia and Georgia. The article features interviews with various individuals, including Russians who have left their country, Ukrainians affected by the war, and Georgians concerned about the influx of Russians and their country's future.

Tbilisi’s Artisanal Bakery Revives Ancient Grains and Traditional Khachapuri Recipes

10 Feb 2023  |  culinarybackstreets.com
The article discusses the efforts of a Tbilisi couple, Lali Papashvily and Levan Qoqiashvili, founders of Gunda, to preserve and promote the diversity of khachapuri, a traditional Georgian dish. They have collaborated with the Gastronomic Association of Georgia to document and rediscover various khachapuri recipes and are using native wheat varieties to make over 20 different types of khachapuri. Their bakery, Gunda, is the first to use ancient Georgian grains for khachapuri, supported by the agricultural non-profit Elkana. The article also highlights unique recipes like the chlakviani and lukvne khachapuri from Svaneti and the tsulispiriani, a bean-stuffed bread made with a local legume. The couple's efforts extend to reviving the culture and history of these dishes, including a request to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to use hemp seeds in their recipes legally.

Vertical Farming: The Future of Agriculture and Space Exploration

23 Jan 2023  |  euronews.com
The article discusses the innovative agricultural project 'Space Farms', co-founded by Tusya Garibashvili in Tbilisi, Georgia. Space Farms is an indoor vertical farm that grows vegetables using less space and water, without pesticides. The farm recycles water, using 80% less than traditional farms, and supplies fresh vegetables to Café Stamba. Tusya and her team have overcome initial challenges to create a successful vertical farming operation. The farm also has an ambitious project, the Ninth Millenium Project, which aims to grow Georgian grapevines in space, with successful trials already conducted for growing them in enclosed spaces. The article highlights the potential of vertical farming in addressing climate change and advancing human ambitions of living on other planets.

The Ukrainians using embroidery to stand up to Russia

22 Jan 2023  |  www.aljazeera.com
Ukrainians are using traditional embroidery as a form of cultural resistance against Russia. Alla Timoshenko, an embroidery artist, creates and sells pieces symbolizing hope for Ukraine's victory. Embroidery, especially the vyshyvanka, is deeply rooted in Ukrainian history and identity, with patterns believed to offer protection and strength. Since the war, Ukrainians have been using embroidery to express national pride, support the economy, and resist Russian cultural suppression. Initiatives like World Vyshyvanka Day and collaborations with poets and artists aim to preserve and promote Ukrainian culture. The conflict has united Ukrainians, with many in the diaspora and supporters worldwide purchasing embroidered items to show solidarity.

Some Russians escape country, war in Ukraine, to a 'fairytale' retreat in nearby Georgia

22 Dec 2022  |  usatoday.com
The article discusses a retreat in Georgia that has become a haven for Russians fleeing conscription into the war in Ukraine. The retreat is described as 'fairytale' like, suggesting a stark contrast to the situation these individuals are escaping from. It highlights a phenomenon where individuals from Russia are seeking refuge in neighboring countries to avoid being drafted into a conflict that has seen widespread international condemnation and has had significant humanitarian impacts.

Russians fleeing Putin's war add new strain to old tensions in nearby Georgia

22 Dec 2022  |  usatoday.com
The article discusses the influx of Russians into Georgia as they flee conscription for the war in Ukraine. This movement is exacerbating long-standing tensions between Russia and Georgia. The situation highlights the broader impacts of the conflict in Ukraine and the regional strains it is causing, particularly in neighboring countries like Georgia that have historical grievances with Russia.

The Oracle of Gentrification: A Family's Tale Amid Tbilisi's Changing Landscape

24 Nov 2022  |  culinarybackstreets.com
The article discusses the transformation of Marjanishvili, a district in Tbilisi, Georgia, known for its historical significance and recent gentrification. Eka Janashia and her husband Iva Davitaia, both experienced in the hospitality industry, converted Eka's father's old apartment into a chic café named Satatsuri, serving Georgian-European fusion cuisine. The café, located next to the popular Fabrika space, faced challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic but adapted by offering take-away and delivery. Despite initial slow footfall, Satatsuri has become a landmark in the neighborhood, known for its healthy menu, stylish setting, and curated wine list featuring local winemakers. The article also touches on the personal story of Eka's father, who has repeatedly moved to escape the noise and bustle of development, only to find it following him.

Lobio saved Georgia in the nineties

10 Nov 2022  |  culinarybackstreets.com
The article narrates the story of Aleko Sardanashvili, a Georgian winemaker in Racha, and the transformation of the region's wine industry. It describes the economic hardships faced by Georgians in the nineties after the Soviet Union's collapse and how traditional dishes like lobio and mchadi sustained them. The article then transitions to the present, where Aleko, after returning from abroad, has taken up winemaking in his ancestral village. He is part of a movement to revive old grape varieties and move beyond the semi-sweet red Khvanchkhara wine, which was popular during Soviet times. Despite challenges such as limited grape supply and competition from state-subsidized wines, Aleko and other local winemakers are working to diversify the region's wine production and appeal to Western tastes with dry wines. The article also touches on the improved infrastructure in Georgia and the growing reputation of the country as a wine destination.

Georgia relies on Russian wheat but as the Ukraine war drags on, local farmers are moving to strengthen the domestic market.

05 Oct 2022  |  aljazeera.com
The article discusses the impact of the Ukraine war on Georgia's wheat supply, as the country is heavily reliant on Russian wheat imports. Georgian farmer Anzor Maisuradze is highlighted for his efforts in reviving local wheat varieties that were nearly lost during the Soviet era. Non-profit group Elkana and its programme manager Tamaz Dundua are working to promote domestic plant varieties and organic agriculture. The Georgian government is considering a programme to increase domestic wheat production, but there is concern over the focus on intensive wheat cultivation over heritage grains. The article also touches on the challenges of seed certification laws and the grassroots efforts to preserve endemic wheat varieties. The war in Ukraine has spurred solidarity among Georgians and a push towards food sovereignty, with some entrepreneurs like Levan Qoqiashvili and Lali Papashvily supporting the use of endemic wheat in their businesses.

Unfulfilled Expectations at Tbilisi's Hualing Plaza and the Success of Xinjiang Sasadilo

22 Sep 2022  |  culinarybackstreets.com
The article discusses the Hualing Tbilisi Sea Plaza in Georgia, a project by the Chinese Hualing Group, which has not met its expectations as a commercial center. It highlights the story of Xinjiang Sasadilo, a restaurant serving Uighur cuisine within the plaza, run by Dilbar Aisan, an ethnic Uighur. The restaurant has become popular among Chinese expatriates and locals despite the overall commercial failure of the mall. The article also touches on the personal history of Dilbar and her daughter Sarah, who helps with the restaurant. The journalist provides a detailed account of the food served at Xinjiang Sasadilo and the cultural significance of Uighur cuisine amidst the political backdrop of Xinjiang.

No neighborhood is complete without that friendly corner shop

02 Sep 2022  |  culinarybackstreets.com
Kutkhe is a basement restaurant in Tbilisi's Marjanishvili district, known for its delicious khinkali and cold beer. The owner, Shota Likokeli, formerly worked at TBC Bank before starting a second-hand clothing shop in the same space. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Shota and his family began a small business selling frozen khinkali and pelmeni, leveraging their family's culinary skills. Once restrictions eased, Shota transformed the space into Kutkhe, a restaurant and bar that also serves as a gathering place for locals. The kitchen is run by Shota's aunt, Nana, and the restaurant has become a popular spot for its food, atmosphere, and affordability despite Tbilisi's inflation.

Four hundred years after the Ottomans destroyed a region's once-proud winemaking tradition, locals are reviving it.

Protests in Georgia Challenge a Massive Hydropower Project—and a Way of Life

11 Aug 2022  |  National Geographic
In the northwest region of Georgia, protestors are opposing the construction of the Namakhvani Hydropower Project, which would be the largest energy project in the country since its independence. The project, backed by the Georgian government and Enka Renewables, aims to build two dams on the Rioni River, providing energy and jobs. However, conservationists and locals are concerned about the environmental impact, particularly on the Rioni's sturgeon population, which could face extinction due to the dams. Despite government assurances of environmental consideration, protests have escalated, leading to a temporary suspension of the project for further environmental and geological studies. The European Parliament has shown support for the protestors, and conservation groups are relying on public opposition to protect the sturgeon and the Rioni Valley.

Anita becomes a wheelchair user after a botched medical treatment at 11 years old. As she struggles to come to terms with new reality, an online introduction helps her finds friendship and inspiration in world champion wheelchair fencer Irma Khetsuriani.

A character profile of John Wurdeman, an artist who helped pioneer Georgia's natural wine movement that celebrates Georgia's 8000-year-old traditional winemaking culture. Filmed for VOA.

The two-humped Bactrian camel helped people settle and adapt to life in the Gobi desert of Mongolia, but their numbers have rapidly decreased in the last few decades.The Gobi desert is also home to the only surviving species of wild camel in the world.

The Morin Khuur or "Horse Fiddle" is Mongolia’s national instrument. The ancient tool is still handcrafted in Mongolia and it has evolved over the years from a folk instrument to being featured in classical western performances. Filmed for Al Jazeera.

A profile on Georgia's iconic Sukhishvili Dance Troupe who combine folk dance, classical ballet and modern dance for Great Big Story. It amassed more then 3 million views and counting on youtoube.

Uzu House: A Vortex of Culinary Delight in Tbilisi's Historic Center

05 Jul 2022  |  culinarybackstreets.com
Uzu House, located in Tbilisi, Georgia, is a non-profit art residence and community space founded by Yamato Kuwahara. It hosts weekly ramen parties where volunteers prepare and serve ramen and other Japanese dishes to visitors. The space operates on donations and has become a hub for cultural exchange, attracting both locals and international visitors. Yamato, who left Japan to escape societal pressures, previously volunteered at Das Japanische Haus in Germany before starting Uzu House. The article highlights the unique culinary and social experience Uzu House offers, its affordability, and the uncertainty of its future due to potential demolition of the building.


09 May 2022  |  culinarybackstreets.com
The article discusses the evolution of vegan dining in Tbilisi, Georgia, focusing on Living Vino Vegan Restaurant and Natural Wine Bar. It recounts the city's past hostility towards vegans, including a 2016 attack on a vegan café. The founder of Living Vino, Dimitri Safonov, is profiled, detailing his background in digital marketing, wine education, and his journey to veganism and meditation. Despite opening just before the COVID-19 lockdown, Living Vino adapted by offering delivery and has since become a popular spot for both locals and tourists, especially during Lent. The restaurant also hosted a fundraising dinner for Ukrainian refugees. Dimitri plans to open a branch in Kyiv post-war and is involved in humanitarian efforts. The article touches on the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet and positions Living Vino as a place for conscientious eating without sacrificing wine quality.


15 Mar 2022  |  culinarybackstreets.com
The article discusses the cultural significance of borscht, a traditional Ukrainian soup, amidst the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It highlights the efforts of Ukrainian chef Ievgen Klopotenko to have borscht recognized by UNESCO as part of Ukraine's cultural heritage, countering Russian claims over the dish. The story then shifts to Tbilisi, Georgia, where Illia Mishchenko and his wife Uliana Shaportova, Ukrainian expats, run Lui Coffee, known for its authentic Ukrainian borscht. The article touches on the couple's background, the ease of doing business in Georgia, and the café's role in providing comfort and aid during the conflict. It also addresses the broader context of Georgian solidarity with Ukraine and the tensions arising from the influx of Russians into Georgia due to sanctions. The piece concludes by noting the support and aid coordination by various businesses for Ukraine in Tbilisi.

Kutkhe: Khinkali Corner Shop

11 Feb 2022  |  culinarybackstreets.com
The article explores the culinary and cultural landscape of Tbilisi, Georgia, focusing on a local restaurant, Duqani Kasumlo, known for its kebabs. The restaurant, situated in the less-traveled Didube neighborhood, has gained a semi-cult status despite its location among home improvement stores and the Eliava market. The author describes the restaurant's ambiance, menu, and the unique Azerbaijani-Georgian fusion that defines its cuisine. The story of the restaurant's inception, its connection to the local Azerbaijani community, and the role of a local folk singer, Lasha Glonti, in its establishment are also highlighted. The article touches on the Eliava Institute of Phage Therapy's history and the significance of the Eliava market. It concludes with the author's intention to return and further explore the restaurant's offerings, including its reputed hangover cure, khashi soup.

Bacteriófagos, los virus que se "comen" a las enfermedades humanas (y por qué muchos países no aprueban su tratamiento)

13 Feb 2021  |  elimparcial.com
El artículo discute la terapia de fagos como una alternativa a los antibióticos, especialmente en el contexto de la resistencia a los antimicrobianos. Esteban Díaz, un paciente francés con fibrosis quística, encontró alivio a sus infecciones bacterianas resistentes a los antibióticos mediante la terapia de fagos en Georgia, en el Instituto Eliava. El instituto, fundado en la era soviética, ha sido un pionero en la investigación y aplicación de fagos. A pesar de los desafíos regulatorios y la falta de aprobación en muchos países occidentales, pacientes de todo el mundo buscan tratamiento en Georgia. El artículo también menciona el ensayo clínico

Phage therapy: the viruses that fight human diseases

28 Jan 2021  |  terra.com.br
Esteban Diaz, a pseudonym for a French patient with cystic fibrosis, experienced significant health improvements after undergoing phage therapy in Georgia, a treatment that uses viruses to combat bacterial infections. The article traces the history of phage therapy, its decline after the advent of antibiotics, and its continued use in the Soviet Union, particularly at the Eliava Institute in Georgia. Despite challenges, including regulatory hurdles and skepticism in Western medicine, phage therapy is gaining attention as an alternative to antibiotics amid rising antimicrobial resistance. The Eliava Institute, along with companies like Ferring Pharmaceuticals and Intralytix, is at the forefront of this research, with Belgium leading regulatory acceptance. The article also highlights the potential of phage therapy to address urgent global health crises.

Efforts to Preserve the One-Horned Indian Rhino at Kaziranga National Park

27 May 2018  |  aljazeera.com
Kaziranga National Park in India is celebrated as a conservation triumph for the one-horned Indian rhino, which has led to its designation as a world heritage site. The park boasts the largest population of this protected species. Despite the success, the rhinos are still under threat from poaching and the annual monsoon floods that affect the region. Al Jazeera's correspondent Pearly Jacob provides an insight into the ongoing efforts to protect the one-horned Indian rhino within the park.

Why is urban migration in Mongolia problematic?

30 Jul 2017  |  www.aljazeera.com
Local authorities in Mongolia are actively seeking solutions to prevent young people from leaving small towns for Ulaanbaatar, which is already struggling to accommodate the surge of new residents. The mayor has even implemented a ban on urban migration. Al Jazeera's Pearly Jacob delivers this report from Darkhan, Mongolia.

Mongolia to focus on renewable energy with Japanese backing

16 Jul 2017  |  Al Jazeera
Mongolia, experiencing rapid temperature increases due to climate change, has launched its first commercial solar plant, which now supplies the central electricity grid. The project, funded by Japan through a bilateral emissions reduction programme, marks a significant transition from coal to renewable energy, impacting the lives of nomadic families.

Mongolia’s ancient instrument striking a chord

17 Apr 2017  |  www.aljazeera.com
The Morin Khuur, also known as the Horse Fiddle, is Mongolia's national instrument. It continues to be handcrafted in Mongolia and has transitioned from a folk instrument in small villages to being included in classical Western performances.

Mongolians seek ways to fight pollution

03 Apr 2017  |  www.aljazeera.com
Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, faces severe pollution during winter, with many residents burning coal for warmth. Frustrated by the government's unsuccessful attempts to address the issue, citizens are beginning to take action.

Country ranks 129th in world greenhouse gas emissions but reportedly is one of the worst affected by climate change.

09 Oct 2016  |  aljazeera.com
Tajikistan, ranking 129th in global greenhouse gas emissions, is disproportionately affected by climate change, as reported by Oxfam. Villages in the Pamir Mountains face challenges due to global warming, such as unpredictable weather patterns affecting agriculture and increased fungal diseases. The melting of glaciers, particularly the Lab Nazar glacier, is a significant concern, with a new lake formed last July from a glacial melt-induced mudflow. This event destroyed homes but no lives were lost, thanks to emergency response teams. Zafarbek Kyvvatbekov of Focus Humanitarian Assistance highlighted the threat of glacial lakes to communities. Benedict Ibele from the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation commented on the regional dependency on water from Tajikistan's glaciers. Despite the Paris Climate Talks' agreement to cap emissions, locals remain apprehensive as they adapt to their changing environment.

Group treks in Pamir Mountains in country with eco-tourism potential but dependent on migrant workers’ remittances.

30 Sep 2016  |  aljazeera.com
In Tajikistan, a significant portion of the population depends on remittances from migrant laborers in Russia. Despite this, the country has untapped potential in eco-tourism, particularly in the mountainous regions like the Pamir Mountains. Efforts to enhance tourism include the introduction of academic tourism courses, but these have not emphasized practical outdoor skills. Christine Oriol, a French development worker, recognized the need for experienced trekking guides and initiated a training course for young Tajik women, teaching them essential outdoor skills. This initiative challenges the traditional gender roles in Tajikistan's Muslim society, where the mountains are typically seen as a domain for men, and women guides are virtually non-existent. Safina Shohaydarova, a tourism graduate, shares her family's concerns about her involvement in trekking, which is often viewed as a male-oriented activity.

Mongolia tent districts grow despite modernisation

07 Aug 2016  |  aljazeera.com
The article discusses the housing situation in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, where a significant number of residents live in traditional tents called 'gers'. The government has introduced low-interest mortgages to encourage these residents to move into modern apartments, but the initiative has not been successful. Many locals find the new housing options too expensive and prefer to stay in their coal-fired homes, which lack basic amenities like running water and sewage systems. As a result, the ger suburbs continue to expand.

How Afghan Minority Students Found Peace in Far-Away Mongolia

03 Nov 2011  |  theatlantic.com
The article discusses the unique opportunity Afghan Hazara students have to study abroad in Mongolia, thanks to scholarships provided by the Tsahim Urtuu program. The Hazaras, an ethnic minority often persecuted in Afghanistan, find a semblance of ethnic kinship and peace in Mongolia. The article follows the experiences of these students, including Nasim Sahel and Meqdad Salehi, as they navigate life in a new country while dealing with the language barrier and the memories of discrimination and violence back home. The scholarships, supported by the Mongolian government, aim to assist students who are seen as ethnic Mongolians due to historical ties. Despite the challenges, the students appreciate the safety and support they receive in Mongolia, although they remain connected to their homeland and hope for its peace.

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