Lola Karimova and Timur Tillyaev bring the life of astronomer Ulugh Beg to the screen

Lola Karimova, or Lola Tillyaeva, is a well-known Uzbek philanthropist and former diplomat who has been running charity and solidarity projects around the world for a number of years. Between 2008 and 2018, she served as Uzbekistan’s ambassador to UNESCO and currently runs three charities.

Lola Karimova - image for articlem 49939
Lola Karimova

She and her husband, Timur Tillyaev, are the parents of three children. Their work over the last decade has been based on helping the most disadvantaged, who are mainly orphaned or neglected children with disabilities and facing difficulties.

Aside from the couple’s charitable work, they also run their own business projects, such as The Harmonist perfume collection, which is based on the Feng Shui philosophy. Their creative entrepreneurial activity is completed with The Doplet project, an initiative that focuses on the sustainable use of water, which is increasingly becoming a scarce natural resource on planet Earth.

Lola Karimova and her passion for Uzbekistan’s culture and art

In recent years, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva has become one of the most prominent cultural figures of Central Asia due to the large number of projects she has initiated and sponsored. One of her best known projects is an interactive colouring book in which the readers can get an insight into the most important historical and architectural attractions of Uzbekistan.

This book was published in the year 2019 but it is a project that began several years ago and has involved many historians, architects and cultural professionals to create a reference work.

Ulugh Beg

Another project in which Lola Karimova has participated is the documentary about Ulugh Beg, a prominent Uzbek astronomer who lived in the 15th century. The title of the book could not be more predictive: Ulugh Beg. The Man Who Unlocked the Universe.

The documentary film, which is produced by Lola Karimova and Timur Tillyaev, is directed by Bakhodir Yuldashev. It includes music by Walter Afanasieff and stars Vincent Cassel, Armand Assante and Francisco Ovalle.

This project is just another one of those launched by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva that makes the rest of the world aware of the cultural richness and some of the historical figures of her country. For centuries, and also in the Middle Ages, Uzbekistan was one of the most important destinations on the Great Silk Road.

This territory was a crossroad for travellers and traders, something the country was able to take advantage of in order to generate an amazing cultural wealth. Lola Tillyaeva wants to highlight this reality and make her country more accessible to the rest of the world through culture and its most historical figures.

Who was Ulugh Beg?

Ulugh Beg statue
Ulugh Beg’s Statue in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. (Image:

Ulugh Beg is one of the most important historical figures in Uzbekistan. The astronomer and mathematician also served as a conqueror and managed to unite several Turkish-Mongolian tribes in the 15th century.

It was precisely his work as a conqueror, which his grandfather Timur had already begun, that led him to immerse himself in the Middle Eastern culture and to develop his wisdom about this region. In a way, Ulugh Beg’s image is all that Uzbekistan has been about over the last centuries, an integrating territory with a powerful cultural mix.

The achievements of Ulugh Beg are countless. For instance, the creation of the Samarkand Observatory is one of his most important works, because thanks to this breakthrough, the astronomer was able to catalogue almost 1,000 stars and improve the Ptolemy’s table. He also managed to measure the length of the solar year with a difference of only 58 seconds, something that was not surpassed until the 16th century, when in 1525 Copernicus established a difference of 28 seconds.

At the Samarkand Observatory, the movements of the planets Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were studied with a very small error margin. In the area of mathematics, the ones developed by Ulugh Beg, highly advanced studies were initiated in geometry and trigonometry.

His achievements as a ruler

The documentary film produced by Lola Karimova and Timur Tillyaev also shows Ulugh Beg’s facet as a ruler. The aim of this documentary film is to show the importance of Ulugh Beg as a historical figure and to highlight the mysterious beauty of Central Asia during the 15th century, but always keeping a well-deserved tribute to Ulugh Beg, who was one of the wisest men of the Eastern Renaissance.

Ulugh Beg’s death in 1449 also meant the destruction and fall of the Samarkand Observatory. At the beginning of the 20th century, a group of Russian archaeologists managed to rediscover this history that Lola Tillyaeva now wants to show to the world.