Kazakhstan on map for Abu Dhabi firm

The central Asian country, which gained independence from the USSR in 1990, will add to its newly built capital city a major mixed use project, backed by a Middle East venture.

Aldar Properties is teaming up with Al Maabar, a joint venture it created with Al Qudra Real Estate, Sorouh Real Estate and Al Reem Investments, to carry out a project in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana.

Abu Dhabi Plaza, as the project is called, is to be developed over a five year timespan in a special economic zone of Astana and will comprise shops, a plaza, residential apartments, offices and a hotel quarter.

Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev launched the project with representatives from Aldar this week, according to a report in Middle East Company News.

Khazakhstan, which is a former Soviet republic with a population of around 15 million, is beginning to get noticed by foreign investors. At the end of last year, famed British architect Sir Norman Foster unveiled plans for a 150 meter high transparent tent that would shield an indoor urban park in Astana, in one example.

Nazarbayev’s government created Astana, which means “capital city” in Kazakh, and moved the capital there from Almaty approximately ten years ago, spending approximately $15 billion (€20 billion) on the city’s construction since that time. The oil and gas –rich nation gained independence from Russia in 1990.

Despite GDP growth estimated at more than 9 percent, the country is nevertheless regarded as something of an unknown quantity.

A recent report by Deutsche Bank points to Kazakhstan being vulnerable to funding and liquidity problems along with the Russian and Latvian banking sector.

The government spent roughly a quarter of foreign currency reserves to provide liquidity support to the banks after a funding crisis in August which has since subsided, according to the report.