On September 10 it was one year after successful termination of International Specialized Exhibition«EXPO-2017» in Astana. Today it is still bursting with activity in a new direction – the whole ecosystem is being born here. We have talked about it to Yerbol Shormanov, Chairman of the Board of National Company «Astana EXPO-2017».
We would like to start with a small digression into the 93-days’ history of the outstanding Summer-2017 in our capital. It was initiative of our President to make Kazakhstan the first country on post-soviet area to conduct international specialized exhibition. We had won the right for conducting the Exhibition struggling with a Belgian city Liege and our victory was not an easy one! 115 countries from all over the world and 22 international organizations participated in the exhibition. According to the exhibition registration file we had expected 2,5 million visitors against 4 million people who actually visited EXPO; and 15 % of them were foreign tourists from 187 countries.
In addition to the incredible atmosphere of “far abroad being in the palm of your hand” and breathtaking content of the pavilions in the margins of Exhibition there had been 220 official events with participation of the heads of countries and governments; they resulted in 39 agreements signed with representatives of business, scientific and educational circles of Kazakhstan.
However, it was cultural and mass program that was the most memorable and rich: it included 3500 performances and it is still easier to mention those world-known artists who had not visited Astana that summer than list the artists of different areas and styles who arrived and met the expectations of our people.
The EXPO-2017 success has exceeded all expectations and forecasts. International Exhibition Bureau recognized the Specialized Exhibition in Astana as the most successful in the whole history! Thanks to EXPO project a great image campaign was carried out to promote our country as a whole. Potential coverage for international promotion was more than 2 billion people. Under the rating based on the event tourism Astana was included into Top-5 Capitals among SCO and CIS countries. As well, our capital was nominated as “The City of Future” by «National Geographic” magazine and entered TOP-10 cities to be visited after the «New York Times» newspaper. And it must be recognized that all this was a result of great and well- coordinated work of the Government, state authorities, the management of Astana EXPO-2017, headed by Akhmetzhan Yessimov and ordinary Kazakhstan citizens, - told Yerbol Shormanov, the Head of Astana EXPO-2017.
This large-scaled project required billions of investments but they were able to ensure multiplicative economic effect upon the whole economy of Kazakhstan.
- There are good reasons to call EXPO-2017 the anti-crisis project in which all regions of our country participated. Local commodity producers were involved into construction of objects for the Exhibition. 408 local enterprises received the order. They performed the works for total amount of 414 billion tenge. It provided opportunity to create over 50 thousand working places including over 17 thousand working places in the regions of Kazakhstan. More than 1400 small and middle businesses were involved in the Exhibition. If only consider the tourism sphere, we can see that the demand for services of tour operators has increased by 78%, hotel occupancy has grown in 3 times. Passenger flows in railroad and air transportation has increased by 25% on the average, - our interlocutor recalls.
And what was the contribution of the Exhibition into scientific progress and energy infrastructure of our country if we remember its actual theme: “The Energy of Future”?
Yerbol Shormanov is sure that having EXPO-2017 conducted in Kazakhstan has built a bridge to «green economy» in Kazakhstan. The Exhibition gave a strong impetus to our scientist and kulibins to promote their ideas and create initiatives and developments in the sphere of renewable energy sources’ use and implementation technologies. There were presented over 150 of the most advanced technologies in the sphere of alternative energy sources from all over the world. 115 innovations were selected to start their implementation in the regions of our country. Presently, they are on different implementation phases. Also as initiated by the President of our country one of EXPO pavilion shall host the International Center of «Green Technologies and Investment Projects» under UN auspices in order to transfer technologies using the innovation approaches and best world practices in transition to the green economy.
EXPO transformation: where the future starts?
Even in the midst of the Exhibition the Head of our state and all kinds of experts and ordinary taxpayers discussed a further use of EXPO-2017 objects. The Exhibition was created and constructed taking into consideration its future.
However, the reconstruction of the complex required additional investments. But the preliminary calculations confirmed that those investments shall be repaid. Constructing new premises and floors helped to increase the useful area of facilities.
Based on the main exhibition complex in the Republic we create 4 global projects at once. The main is Astana International Financial Center that is supposed to become a leading center of financial services in Eurasian area and one of main drivers to attract investments to the country. One of the most technological after-exhibition objects shall be International Technical Park for IT-start-ups «Astana Hub» - a local analogue of the famous American Silicon Valley in smaller size.
IT-University also placed here is another powerful move towards involving our country into the world of digital development. As well, there is a Business center that shall be first of all adapted for AIFC tasks. It will host representatives of the biggest international organizations, financial institutions and resident partners of the financial center.
The construction of those objects shall be terminated by December 01, 2018.
After reconstruction is over we plan to realize based on the logistic center the project of International Exhibition Center of 21 thousand square meters to conduct the biggest international exhibitions.
In conclusion, we can tell that the EXPO territory is used to create a new eco-system to realize innovation and breakthrough technologies, - considers Yerbol Shormanov.
It is our nearest future and it is also interesting to know about the objects working in the exhibition territory at present moment.
The EXPO visit card and thing to be most proud of is the Nur Alem Sphere and it doesn’t stop working. It is not just a museum of future but a functioning scientific and educational center hosting thousands of visitors every day. Schools and universities have their lectures on the Sciences here; special educational projects Kids & Students Future Energy also are conducted here; over 20 thousand pupils and students from different regions have visited them starting from the beginning of the year.
The Sphere’s potential is great and is not limited as the internet users believe. Many of them suppose it is the ideal technological site for holding cyber-sport tournaments. Others propose to organize interactive quests inside the giant sphere for “The Star Wars” fans. Most of Kazakhstan citizens agree that the EXPO after-exhibition facilities must be leased to different movie-making studios engaging in fantastic genre. And adult population request to invite to our Sphere travelling exhibitions from the world museums of science and techniques. In this way the national company will be able to attract more visitors.
The national company is updating the content of the Sphere on a regular base. For example, presently 17 unique guiding robots are working in the Sphere as well as virtual reality zone where you can make interactive walking along Astana and Almaty cities.
In addition to permanent installations and entertainment content we attract the famous world show-projects. “For example, «Titan Robot Show” has been presented this summer and presently we have “Ball of Robots” that demonstrate the last world achievements in the robotics”, - told the head of Astana EXPO-2017.
The national company has specific plans with regard to the multi-functional Congress Center. This is the place where the EXPO-2017 opening and closing ceremonies were conducted. Presently it hosts the events of the same global importance - such as the XI Astana Economic Forum and the World Mountain Congress. Also foreign stars are giving their performances and concerts here on a monthly basis. The citizens of Astana were enchanted by a chamber atmosphere of the halls, sound acoustics and modern design of the Center while companies like it for opportunities to realize the great events of any format and scale because the lease terms provide individual approach to every client.
The commercial pavilions now host digital offices of KazPost and Digital Service Providing Center for people where they can easily get themselves the required services.
Thanks to EXPO presently we have the necessary infrastructure to conduct congress-and-exhibition events of any format on the highest level. And the task of our National Company is to promote the realization of the above-mentioned large projects and to ensure effective use of after-exhibition infrastructure, - noted Yerbol Shormanov.
If we remind of a unique children’s playground suitable also for the children with special needs located in the former EXPO territory, restaurants and cafes, a new parking area of 6 hectares than we see that the EXPO territory is now something more than a district with its own infrastructure but it is a real city with a developed social and leisure infrastructure, recreation area and public space.
- Yes, we make every effort to create the most comfortable zone for our visitors. For example, in the framework of celebration of 20-years of Astana we built a special summer scene where most of events and concerts of local artists have been conducted. The concerts have attracted up to 8 thousand spectators! We have arranged theater and circus shows for children and we plan to go on with this practice in future, - concluded our interlocutor.
It is possible that we have ensured one of the most efficient ways of use for the after-exhibition heritage here in Astana. It is hard to imagine right now, first, we need to see the “live” tenants and employees of new global offices.
Azhar ISMAILOVA, Astana