We can’t overlook the 4WD and SUVcars in the streets of Almaty. They are everywhere, huge, shiny, and brand new Toyota Land Cruisers and Prados, Mitsubishi Pajeros, Lexus LXs, and occasionally Audi, Volkswagen and Porsch SUVs). The cars over here look more luxurious than at home.( Also for marriages, cars seems to be meticulously picked.) We also saw extra long limousines, from Mercedes, Rolls Royce, Hummer, ... There is clearly a considerable number of the city population that has very healthy bank accounts. Alongside the massive cars, the roads are packed with modest cars: older and newer ones imported from Germany, The Netherlands, Eastern Europe or Korea. The good old Lada’s provide that cosy post-soviet feeling.

Mobile phones seem to be the second most important status object. We observed many young locals cruising the city or chilling on a terrace with top end phones and tablets.

Where does all the money come from to spend on 4WD and SUV cars? From what we have seen and heard, the oil, gas and mineral industry (uranium, lead, gold, etc.), together with a culture of bribes, has made some people extremely rich. The availability of money, together with the influence of western capitalist culture, has definitely introduced the western lifestyle to Kazakhstan. We wonder if the ecological movement – that has been growing rapidly in many European countries (more green energy, less meat consumption, etc.) – has also reached the Kazakh steppes…

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