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What Bulat Utemuratov is known for?

23 November 2020, 17:45 CET

He contributes millions of dollars to the control of Covid-19, builds houses for multi-child families and people who lost their homes; revived the Narxoz University, created international Haileybury schools and the second life to the Botanical Garden in Almaty.

Bulat UtemuratovHe is a fan of court tennis, develops this sport on the system level in Kazakhstan and takes part in its international development. "Autism. One world for all" is his project that changes lives of "special" children and their parents to the highest standards. While many were still at a loss in the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, he transferred the first million dollars to the Republican Coronavirus Control Fund, and as early as in April brought to the country 94,000 express tests, arranging first PCR laboratories in two major cities of the country in June.

Bulat Utemuratov was born on 13 November 1957 in the city of Guryev, nowadays Atyrau, finished secondary school in Kyzylorda and then graduated from the Almaty Institute of the National Economy. He lectured on economics in the same institute for about a year. There was nothing unusual in such a start of the life journey, and many others if they were in his place would have stayed working on their home ground for many future years. Bulat has chosen another path.

His career developed torrentially: from university lecturer to head of department in the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Switzerland. He will have returned to his alma-mater in 2006, as an experienced diplomat and successful businessman, to revive the University which by then was at a low ebb.

Today Bulat Utemuratov is at the top of the list of 50 most influential people in Kazakhstan. According to the Forbes data for 2019, the businessman's assets are 3.4 billion dollars. One of the biggest private investors of the country, he set up a Foundation which money are spent on an ongoing basis for the development of economy, education, science, culture and sports in Kazakhstan.

At a casual glance, these are just dry facts, but ... only at a casual glance. For Bulat Utemuratov, there is Love standing behind this.

Love for the country, love for the people – these words are often devaluated, loose their meaning in the present-day life with its unfettered pace. However, there are people who return to these words their true value through their deeds, not through slogans. And, if for someone capital accumulation is a goal in itself, then for such people it is an opportunity, a resource. Opportunity to be of use and to do good – true one, often salvatory and timely.

The world that is one for all

Do you know what is behind the words "children with the autistic spectrum disorders"? Quite often – huge, sometimes inextricable difficulties for a child and its family. But autistic people often have amazing abilities, they can find their path in life exactly due to their unusual view of the world. They just need help. And Bulat helps.

There are centres for children, their parents and the immediate circle that work under the "Autism. One world for all" programme in the cities of Almaty, Nur-Sultan, Kyzylorda, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Aktobe, Uralsk, Shymkent and Petropavlovsk. Thanks to these programmes, lives of families change and the world, indeed, opens its bright side to them. Bulat Utemuratov's Foundation invested 12.5 million dollars in the support of autistic children through the national network of the Assyl Miras autism centres.

There is no such thing as someone else's misfortune in home country

What is home for each of us? Our own universe with a special atmosphere – a place where you can feel truly safe. Disaster hits a family that loses such a universe. A natural calamity brought the dreadful misfortune to inhabitants of Myrzakent town, Makhtaaral district, Turkestan oblast, last spring – floods resulting from the dam breakout destroyed their homes. Hundreds of people could be left without shelter if assistance would have not arrived on time.

The first Kazakhstani philanthropist to respond to the misfortune was Bulat Utemuratov: 6 million dollars gave an opportunity to build 150 houses and became the most significant contribution to restoration of the region. It was not the first time he helped his compatriots to find housing: 2.5 million dollars allocated by him were used to build new houses in Arys town for 100 families who were left without a roof over their heads after the explosions at the ammunition depot in 2019.

Bulat also helped multi-child families in Kyzylorda: his Foundation's contribution to the construction of houses for 100 families is 1.2 million dollars.

Return to revive: the best education for Kazakhstanis

Education of Kazakhstanis was his goal. He pursued it powerfully and systematically. In 2006 a successful businessman, diplomat and politician Bulat Utemuratov, a graduate of the Almaty Institute of the National Economy, returns to his alma-mater in order not only to revive his home university, but to make it a truly modern one, the leader of economic and business education in Kazakhstan that meets the world criteria.

His team starts to reform – acting decisively and quite tough. They develop a special system of financial discipline that excludes corruption, the material base is brought to European standards, and the best lecturers from different countries are invited for cooperation. University professors and lecturers get the opportunity to undergo training abroad.

In 2016 the University gets a new name – Narxoz University. The University is a base for the International Business School (IBS) to open, for cadres to be trained under MBA programmes, scholarships are allocated to gifted students. Under the supervision of Bulat Utemuratov, the University received more than 40 million dollars in investments and its transformation has been continuing.

And again, attention to children. The British Haileybury Almaty school, founded by Bulat and his partners, marks its 10th anniversary this year, one more international level school – Haileybury Astana - works in the capital city. Its graduates easily enter the best world universities.

Has the dream come true? "This is just a section of the long path of achievements. Transformations in an educational institution are a marathon which will require yet a lot of investment," emphasizes Bulat Utemuratov. He does not talk about a special mission and social targets, but simply invests money and efforts in the education for Kazakhstanis.

Court tennis: about a sport that rose up from the ashes


Those who dreamt about going in for court tennis in Kazakhstan, for many years now have an opportunity to play it in tennis centres of the world level with good trainers in all big cities of the country. Back in 2007, Bulat Utemuratov became the head of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation. He managed to bring the organisation out of stagnation and to lead it to prosperity in a few years. He allocated 80 million dollars to build the infrastructure and to develop tennis. Throughout the country, courts began to be erected within the reach of densely populated areas, which made it possible for a large number of people to train. Sport, which until recently was considered elite, has become widespread.

The Federation's head paid special attention to children. Young Kazakhstanis came to play tennis thanks to the "Tennis before 10" programme. First results could be seen: the national team of Kazakhstan in the "under the age of 12 years" category became the champion of Central Asia in 2017.

Adults had remarkable success too: the men's team reached the quarterfinals of the prestigious Davis Cup tournament for several running years. Kazakhstani tennis has literally risen from the ashes – as of today it is one of the most successful sports featuring the developed infrastructure, large-scale participation and growing results on the international arena.

In 2019, Bulat Utemuratov was elected as Vice President of the International Tennis Federation. By a substantial margin, he received over 357 votes from representatives of the participating countries.

The same year two legends of the world tennis – Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – met in Nur-Sultan. The match was held thanks to warm personal relations between Bulat Utemuratov and the both athletes. Residents and guests of Nur-Sultan got a unique opportunity to enjoy the game of virtuosos with their own eyes. And young Kazakhstani athletes, for whom a separate master class was organized, admitted that they now believed in their abilities - that they are able to achieve world heights in tennis.

The next powerful step towards the development of the domestic tennis was the ATP 250 international level tournament held this October. Preparations were done within the record-beating six weeks instead of usual half a year, in conditions of the pandemic and with observance of the unprecedented anti-epidemic measures. The event was held without spectators who could instead watch games of the world stars in Nur-Sultan tennis courts broadcasted online.

Healing air and esthetical delight


Quite an event both for residents and for guests of Almaty was the post-reconstruction opening of the Central Botanical Garden that became a popular place for recreation of the city inhabitants and guests.

The park welcomed first visitors on 15 June: during the "pandemic" restrictions children and adults have again got an opportunity to enjoy the nature's beauty, breathe the purest air, watch the life of birds and insects – to forget about the daily routine, take peaceful rest among blooming plants and herbs. The renovated garden has been already visited by 300,000 people. This has never yet happened in its history. To reconstruct this oasis in the middle of the metropolis, Bulat Utemuratov's Foundation invested 15 million dollars.

Health as the right not the burden

Bulat Utemuratov Foundation

From the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, support and protection of Kazakhstanis became a priority for Bulat. He understood that funds spent for the health of his compatriots are not a burden but an investment – contribution to the preservation and development of the nation, to the country prosperity. His Foundation mobilised huge resources to protect people against the virus and to help the state to overcome the crisis with minimal subsequences.

Bulat Utemuratov contributed 5.5 million dollars to the coronavirus control: this includes the first million dollars transferred to the Republican Coronavirus Control Fund at the very start of the pandemic; and 94,000 express tests imported to the country in April when governments were closing their country borders one after another; and two mobile PCR laboratories given free of charge to healthcare departments in Nur-Sultan and Almaty.

To purchase high-technology module PCR laboratories, Bulat Utemuratov's Foundation allocated 4 million dollars. It was not easy to bring them in the country. Laboratories were developed in China and were in operation as early as this April, but importation was complicated due to the closed boarder of Kazakhstan and internal block-posts between cities. And again, where someone would, probably, see inextricable difficulties, Bulat looked for and found opportunities. New laboratories started working in two main cities of the country in the beginning of June.

Splendour and spirituality: a new spiritual place for Kazakhstanis

"This mosque will be beautiful, unique," that is what the First President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, said about a new mosque under construction. The mosque will be able to take up to 30,000 people and will become the largest mosque in the country and in Central Asia. Its construction is sponsored by Kazakhstani businessmen, and traditionally one of the most significant contributions is from Bulat Utemuratov.

Unique architectural look of cities and the best recreation place

Bulat financed construction of buildings that became real jewels of the largest cities of Kazakhstan: head office of Forte Bank in Nur-Sultan, Ritz Carlton Astana Hotel and Talan Towers Business Centre. He also invested funds in the country's first and only hotel-resort Rixos Borovoe - an incredibly beautiful place for comfortable rest and health improvement.

Without pathos and show-off

He does not give interviews, does not tell mass media about charity and his special mission. He does good – for the country, for his compatriots, for the present and for the future.

His projects are large-scaled both in business and in the social sector. They say about such people, that they are ahead of their time. He is always focused on results, ready to overcome any obstacles and leads a team of top managers. The state-minded person and diplomat, he cares about the needs of people. His family lives in Kazakhstan and both his sons do business in their home country.

This September, on the eve of the Almaty City Day, he was awarded the title of "Honorary Citizen of Almaty". There is a laconic entry in the list of famous people who received this title: "Bulat Zhamitovich Utemuratov — born in 1957, statesman and public figure". There is a lot behind these words.

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