On November 24, the 2023 Tourism Year Forum of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was held in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. After the forum, the delegations of Iran and Tajikistan walked into Ili on the 25th and visited many representative scenic spots such as the National Gate of Khorgos Port, the China-Kazakhstan Khorgos International Border Cooperation Center, the Xibe Ancient City of Qapqar County, the Shaanxi Temple in Yining, the Liuxing Street Characteristic Block in Yining City, and the Alexander Accordion Collection.
Named after the Ili River, Ili is known as the "Saiwai Jiangnan" and is one of the regions with the richest tourism resources in Xinjiang and even China. With the deepening of the Belt and Road Initiative, Yili's geographical location is more important - it is the passage of the northern route of the ancient Silk Road, located in the center of the Eurasian economic plate, bordering Kazakhstan, connecting the Chinese market with a population of 1.4 billion on one end and the Central Asian, West Asian and European markets with a population of 1.2 billion on the other, which is a key node connecting China with Central Asia, West Asia and Europe.
"I have been to China five times, to Beijing, Shanghai and other cities, but this is the first time I have come to Xinjiang, and I feel like I have returned to my hometown. Muslim Shahari, director general of the Iranian Tourism Market Authority, told The Paper (www.thepaper.cn) that during his one-day trip to Yili, he felt the local religion, architecture, music, culture and economic development, and in many ways, the appearance of the place has many similarities with some cities in Iran.
In the Liuxing Street block of Yining City, Muslim took a group photo with local children The pictures in this article were taken by The Paper reporter Wang Lu
Muslim further suggested that because of the cultural similarity, it is hoped that more symposia will be held between China and Iran, as well as between different cities of the two countries, in order to increase the number of tourists visiting each other. At present, Urumqi and Tehran operate four round-trip direct flights a week, which facilitates the travel of people between the two places.
"Tourism is the best way to build a relationship between the two peoples, not based on any past experience, but to see each other and get to know each other. As Muslim said, during the day's trip, the playful and experience-loving director also established a natural connection with the people of Ili in his own way. In the ancient city of Xibe, Muslim saw the locals baking the characteristic Xibe flatbread, and he couldn't help but get his hands on it, from kneading to rolling the dough, his technique was unexpectedly skillful, and even surprised the pancake master standing next to him.
Muslim recalls that when he was a child, he baked similar dough in his hometown in Iran, and did so in a similar way. However, he quickly made up the phrase "Don't let my wife know that I can scone cakes", which caused everyone to laugh. After the Xibo flatbread was baked, Mouslim enthusiastically shared the freshly baked delicacy with the people around him.
Muslim making Xibe flatbread
Similar to Muslim, Reza Shahbidoki from the central Iranian city of Yazd has found a sense of familiarity in Yili, where he now runs a homestay. He told The Paper, "There are many similarities between the culture of Ili and Iran, and it is very beautiful and interesting here. I recommend that tourists who come to China to play should definitely come to Yili to have a look. He added, "I felt the warm hospitality of the locals in Yili. In Iran, we welcome guests from afar in the same way. When most tourists come to Iran, they will find that Iran is better than they had previously remembered, and hope that there will be more and more tourism cooperation between Iran and China. ”
Reza Shabidoki at the Alexandria Accordion Collection
The Alexandria Accordion Collection is the last stop of the day, with a wide variety of accordions in the museum, which also makes everyone feel the charm of "music without borders". Even after the multi-ethnic accordion band played a few enthusiastic pieces, Saimmin Bozorov, a member of the Tajik delegation, couldn't help but walk up to the stage and play a Tajik folk song as he played. Instantly, the applause was thunderous, and everyone stood one after another, or beat the beat, or danced gently. Despite the different nationalities and nationalities, the joy in everyone's hearts is so similar when the music plays. After the concert, Sayymin shared with The Paper, "In Ili, we felt the hospitality of the locals and wanted to give back to everyone through music, which is also a way to showcase Tajikistani culture." ”
During the SCO 2023 Tourism Year Forum, Yang Xiuli, Secretary of the Party Committee of Yili Prefecture, said that he would uphold and carry forward the "Shanghai Spirit" and take this forum as an opportunity to build a world-class tourist destination with the goal of building tourism into a beautiful industry that expands foreign exchanges and promotes the enrichment of the people and income, so as to make Yili a model place and image window for exchanges and exchanges between the SCO member states.
SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming also pointed out that tourism is an important way to promote international cooperation and mutual understanding, and is gradually becoming an important direction for the SCO's space cultural exchanges and dialogue.