15th Anniversary of Decision to Make Astana New Capital

Dec 14. MFA

President joins in anniversary celebration

15th Anniversary of Decision to Make Astana New CapitalOn December 9, President Nazarbayev addressed a reception marking the 15thanniversary of the decision to make Astana the capital city of Kazakhstan. Today, Astana is a city with over 775,000 inhabitants and a vibrant symbol of Kazakhstan’s determination to establish itself as a progressive and dynamic country at the heart of Central Asia.

But 15 years ago, when the Republic of Kazakhstan was just six years in existence, the decision to re-locate the capital from Almaty to Astana was a brave one. At this week’s reception, President Nazarbayev recalled that there were many sceptics, but that he felt it was essential to show the global community what Kazakhstan could do. Driven by the enthusiasm of all those who came to the capital in its early days and played an active role in its development, Astana has become a symbol of Kazakhstan’s achievements as a nation, the President said.

Among the many dignitaries joining in this week’s celebration were Kazakhstan’s national writer AbishKekilbayev, who said that the transfer of the capital had heralded the start of large-scale economic reform as part of the “Kazakhstan 2030” strategy, and Majilis Deputy KuanyshSultanov, who said that the relocation, made in a difficult economic situation, was a strategic decision that had ensured the country’s internal and external security.

Astana (the name means “capital” in Kazakh) was envisaged from the start as a city that would embrace and reflect on the past but also exemplify the future of Kazakhstan as an independent country with a modern outlook. Some of the most celebrated architects from around the world were invited to create the buildings that would achieve this vision.

Japanese architect KishoKurokawa won the international competition in 1998 to design a master plan for a new city based on the concepts of symbiosis, metabolism and abstract symbolism, that would be forward-looking, comfortable, bright and dynamic.

Norman Foster designed some of Astana’s most remarkable buildings, including the Pyramid of Peace and Reconciliation and the giant tent that houses the Khan Satyr shopping center, evoking the traditional Kazakh nomadic yurt dwelling.Manfredi and LucaNicoletti are responsible for the futuristic Kazakhstan Central Concert Hall.

The innovation continues, with the Abu Dhabi Plaza expected to become Central Asia’s tallest building on completion in 2014.

Architects and engineers alike have risen to the challenge of creating a modern, functional and comfortable city in a region where temperatures range from -40C in winter to +40C in summer. Today, Kazakhstan is increasingly concerned with sustainable energy and the development of the green economy. Astana is now preparing to host EXPO-2017 on the theme “Future Energy”, in part as a demonstration to the world that, even in extreme conditions, the 21st century city can be eco-friendly and sustainable.

International companies have flocked to Astana, attracted by the Astana New City special economic zone and a package of government tax and financial incentives. Investment into the region has also grown steadily: in the first six months of 2012, Astana received KZT 295 billion (USD 1.9 billion) of investment, a 16.2% increase on the comparable period in 2011, while the full-year forecast for 2012 is KZT 600 billion (USD 3.9 billion).