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Lifestyle of Uygurs highlighted

Gao Bo
Updated: Sep 1,2014 10:21 AM     China Daily

A photo taken in June shows a street view of the old city area of Kashgar city in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. [Photo/Provided to China Daily]

Spurring further development in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which is known for its colorful landscape and diverse culture, is high on the government agenda.

China Daily’s reporter Gao Bo in Urumqi explores the country’s efforts to improve local people’s livelihoods in the fields of employment, education, renovation and anti-corruption.

Restoration of old city area will benefit some 49,000 households

The renovated old area of Kashgar city in Kashgar prefecture, with its famous Uygur ethnic lifestyle, has been declared another national scenic area in the south Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Kong Dejian, vice-mayor of Kashgar city, made the announcement on June 18. Funded by the central government, the renovation project, which has a budget of more than 7 billion yuan ($1.13 billion), aims to transform decrepit houses and make them earthquake-proof. The work, which began in 2010 and is scheduled to be completed in 2014, will benefit 49,000 households.

Artux alley on Kumudarwazha Street with its craftsmen, is one site in the scenic area. “Every house was individually designed to cater to individual families’ needs, then rebuilt or reinforced accordingly. That made this a huge and complicated project from the very beginning,” said Remet Aji, 32, party chief of the Kumudarwazha community.

After renovation, the street totally changed. The road was broadened and the houses on both sides were all rebuilt and set several meters back. The walls facing the street are decorated in Uygur style and all shop doors are wooden.

To attract more craftsmen in various industries, the community rents the vacant shops at 10 yuan per square meter and offers the space free to those with special skills.

“Walking along it, tourists can appreciate the Uygur ethnic group decoration, folk culture or step into any shop to buy something,” Remet said.

Gwen Weisser, 22, from Germany, and her husband were quite interested in the wooden items, staying in one shop for more than 20 minutes.

“Walking here is just like in a historical museum, I can experience what has been changed and what has not,” Weisser said. “I guess that’s why so many people like to travel here.”

The scenic spot covers another four streets in the old town. Bazaars selling caps, iron products, pottery and ornaments with strong ethnic favors are scattered throughout the area.

On the other side of Xinjiang, tourists can also experience the site and smell of the lavender in Huocheng county, Ili prefecture.

Besides Provence in France and Hokkaido in Japan, it’s one of the best places in the world to see lavender, said Dr Pierre Ross, a chemical expert from France.

Tourists can buy perfume, essential oil and soap, all made from lavender, at the county’s fourth Lavender Festival, which ran from June 21-24.

During the first quarter of 2014, Xinjiang had about 6.83 million tourists, including 240,000 overseas visitors, representing an increase of almost 10 percent from the previous year, according to data from the regional tourism bureau.

Since March, however, the industry has suffered due to terrorist attacks.

“The management of scenic spots and hotels in the region is sound,” said Inam Naiserdin, director of the Xinjiang Tourism Bureau. “We welcome all tourists to Xinjiang to see for themselves that travel here is safe.”