EXPO’s New Life: How Exhibition Grounds Became a Business District


A few years ago, Kazakhstan hosted the International specialized exhibition EXPO-2017 Astana, the facilities of which subsequently became part of the Central Business District of Nur-Sultan, attracting businesses from across the globe. We took a chance to explore what the largest business hub in the region looks like and what best practices have led to impressive results in such a short period of time.

At the initiative of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, for the first time in CIS, the International specialized exhibition EXPO-2017 Astana was held under the “Future Energy” theme  and was recognized by the Bureau of International Exhibitions as the most successful specialized exhibition in the history of EXPO. Futuristic-looking  exhibition complex with Nur Alem Sphere at the center grew on 25 hectares, immediately gaining popularity among visitors. 115 countries and 22 international organizations were represented at the exhibition, which was also attended by 4 million visitors, including 650 000 foreign tourists.

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Sceptics predicted that after the global event ends, the vast exhibition area would be abandoned. The judgement was probably based on the examples of some of the EXPO countries that were unable to find further use for their unique facilities.
Kazakhstan, in turn, developed the post-use concept of the exhibition facilities that was approved by Nursultan Nazarbayev and incorporated best practices from internationally renowned business centers, such as Russian Moscow-City, French La Défense, British Canary Wharf and Singapore Downtown Core. 

EXPO Business District houses the Astana International Financial Center   which consists of Astana International Exchange (AIX), AIFC Court and International Arbitration Center operating under English law. Businesses that are based in this location can enjoy significant preferences. Along with that, entrepreneurs have the convenience of occupying offices at an “A” class EXPO business center located nearby. Cultural and business events, concerts and teleconference can be held in the Congress Centre. This building already hosted the participants and guests of Astana Economic Forum, Astana Finance Days International Conference, Comic Con Astana Festival and other large-scale events.

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The International Exhibition Centre, the largest exhibition space in Central Asia, is also of great importance. Major international and national exhibitions are planned to be held here. The center presents opportunities to attract major international events to Kazakhstan. Further development of the “Future Energy” theme is implemented by the International GreenTechnologies & Investment Projects Center created under the auspices of the UN. It contributes significantly to the development of the country’s green economy by introducing advanced renewable energy solutions.

“Nur Alem” Future Energy Museum became a new symbol of the young capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan, a scientific, cultural and entertaining center. It became the most popular place for guests to take memorable pictures against the futuristic Sphere. Tens of thousands of Kazakhstani students gain useful knowledge when visiting the Museum thanks to Kids & Student Future Energy special educational programs. 

Astana IT-University and Astana Hub International IT-Startup park that are also located in the EXPO Business District successfully continue to develop.
The exhibition site is tailored not only for business and education purposes, but also for leisure and entertainment of citizens and guests of the capital. There is a five-star Hilton Astana hotel, cafes, restaurants, parks, and a playground, that can also be used by children with special needs. EXPO site has certainly become a new business and tourist center of the capital of Kazakhstan.
However, this is not the end to the EXPO story for Kazakhstan. . As a follow-up to the work done, Kazakhstan will participate in the World EXPO-2020 exhibition themed ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ in Dubai in 2021.

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The national pavilion of the Republic of Kazakhstan with an area of 3,400 square meters will consist of three floors and will present four exhibition areas. The facade of the pavilion is inspired by traditional Eastern architecture and represents a synthesis of modern digital solutions and traditions, while also symbolizes the openness of Kazakhstan.

The content of the pavilion will reveal the rich history and culture of Kazakhstan, present tourist potential, technological and investment opportunities of the country, and acquaint visitors with unique natural landscapes of Kazakhstan.

Contact info: 
Azel Kussainova 
+7 7172 917074