Kazakhstan has begun work on a privately financed, high-tech quarter for its southern city of Shymkent.
The development will be added to the city’s northern suburbs, and the construction of roads and other infrastructure has already started. The quarter will be based around a central park, work on which will begin in 2017.
The project is part of the Shymkent Development Plan until 2020, which was presented in November last year.
This set out the development of the new quarter as a "smart" city, a centre of small and medium businesses, attractive for tourists and investors". In future five-year plans, the aim is to make this quarter the model for an expansion of the entire city.
Gabidulla Abdrakhimov, the mayor of Shymkent, told the Astana Times: "Today is a fateful moment, when we start to build a megalopolis in the Central Asian region. First of all, we will create a new quality of life. It is a sort of testing ground where renewable technologies and the highest level of safety and comfort will be combined.
"The district will become the business heart of the city, the centre of entrepreneurial activity and a leisure centre for locals."
Shymkent is the country’s third largest settlement, after the political capital of Astana and the commercial capital of Almaty. It has a population of about 600,000.
Image: A model of the completed district (Kazakhstan Central Communications)