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Beautiful country with almost no tourists building £15bn mega city to finally get on map

Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia is working towards the construction of a £15 billion mega-cityAsia to finally get on the holiday map. 

In July 2022, Kyrgyz authorities announced plans for Asman, a new city to be developed along the picturesque shores of Lake Issyk Kul. 

They stated that this project aims to stimulate the local economy, draw in foreign tourists, and foster national unity.

Kyrgyz authorities envision Asman as “a green and sustainable city,” complete with business centers, banks, sports arenas, high-tech buildings, a bullet-train system, and state-of-the-art colleges and medical facilities, where vehicles would run on natural gas and electricity.

Honoring Kyrgyz culture, Asman (which means “sky” in Kyrgyz) would be designed in the shape of a komuz, a traditional Kyrgyz musical instrument. 

The city would cover 4,000 hectares and accommodate half a million residents. According to the project designers, it would require up to £15 billion ($20 billion) in investments and take 10 years to complete.

President Sadyr Japarov, seen by Kyrgyz media as the project’s main promoter, did not hide his nation-building intentions at last June’s groundbreaking ceremony.

Addressing the event, he said that the bringing together of people from across the country at the start of the project “attests to unity and cohesiveness of our people.”

The new city, he said, would “become a financial hub uniting the East and West, the North and the South.”

Ruslan Akmataliev, a Bishkek architect who designed the city, described it last year as “a city of future, where innovative ideas and modern technologies will meet with environmental sustainability and high quality of life.”

He said: “The city infrastructure will be developed with the use of advanced technology to minimize negative environmental impacts.

“From using renewable energy to creating green zones and balanced waste disposal system, Asman seeks to be an example for other cities in terms of environmental responsibility.”

However, some locals and residents have expressed their anger over the project.

In the lakeside villages of Toru Aygyr and Chyrpykty, located 118 miles east of Bishkek and near the proposed site of Asman city, a dozen residents interviewed by VOA expressed support for the project due to its potential economic benefits but also voiced some concerns.

“The lands [of the proposed Asman city site] are used for grazing cattle and farming. There are also many houses. What will happen to them?” asked a Toru Aygyr shopkeeper, who wished to remain anonymous due to fear of official retaliation.

In a country where transparency is a perennial issue, other locals were more candid.

“We heard that the government is spending a lot of money on [building] it, but we haven’t seen any results,” said Askhat, a retired schoolteacher from Chyrpykty who provided only his first name, to VOA.


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