A new iconic shopping mall incorporated in the state-of-the-art Expo architectural framework opens in 2017 and is set to be the symbol of the exhibition and of Kazakhstan's new flourishing retail industry, with positive effects on employment and the economy.


In 2017, Astana is to offer its residents and visitors the largest shopping mall in Central Asia and one of the largest 85 malls in the world. Built over 140,000sqm and measuring 500m by 160m, the iconic new mall, for which KZT67 billion (over USD200 million) was invested, was inaugurated in December 2016 but will open its doors in the first quarter of 2017. Moreover, at a height of 25m, the complex is comparable to an eight-storey building. The architect, British company Chapman Taylor, has developed over 2,000 retail large-scale projects in 90 countries.

Mega Silk Way is built upon the framework of Expo 2017 and is therefore incorporated in the architectural ensemble of the exhibition, hence significantly contributing to changing the real estate landscape of the Kazakhstani capital, which is increasingly characterized by ultra-modern, striking architecture. The mall is based on the idea of a “city within the city," with its own streets and everything from restaurants, a food court, and 10 cinemas with the largest screen in Kazakhstan, as well as a number of entertainment facilities such as an ice rink around a lake, an indoor roller-coaster, children entertainment areas, and a Ferris wheel outside the building. Furthermore, an innovative platform will be available on-site, where young IT professionals can test and discuss their technology projects.

Additionally, the project is “green," in line with the Expo theme, as the developers adopted energy-saving glazing and insulation materials, rainwater collection tanks to water plants, and escalators with motion sensors, all of which will reduce energy consumption by 20%.

According to global consultancy A.T. Kearney, which compiled the 2016 Global Retail Development Index, Kazakhstan entered the top-five developing retail markets, a clear sign that despite bazaars still representing the largest part of retail sales, a shift from traditional to modern retailing is becoming a trend. Retail is a promising industry for Kazakhstan's economy, and the government is investing its efforts into creating a favorable environment for international retail investors: Chains such as Carrefour and Leroy Merlin and food retailers McDonald's and Starbucks have recently bet on Kazakhstan's market by opening stores in the country, Auchan is in talks of entering the market, and giant Swedish fashion retailer H&M launched its first store in Almaty in March 2017 and is to launch additional ones, including one in Mega Silk Way. Inditex, one of the largest clothes retailers with brands including Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Pull&Bear, and Oysho, will occupy 8,000sqm. As explained by Chua Soon Ghee, partner and Head of Southeast Asia at A.T. Kearney, Kazakhstan's retail market is not as developed as others, and therefore its growth pace will be higher. In addition, its market is far from saturated, making it an attractive market for international retailers.

As countries move toward long-term development and increasingly diversify their economic base to include the services sector, retail is considered an important economic indicator. The retail industry has many direct and indirect effects that go from boosting employment to opportunities for construction companies and triggering long supply chains from raw material suppliers to consumers, therefore promoting economic activity. Mega Silk Way is predicted to create 2,000 jobs, and including service companies, total jobs will amount to over 5,000. Furthermore, it is expected to contribute to the government's budget through annual tax payments of around KZT5 billion.

Expo is one of the largest events Kazakhstan has ever hosted since its independence, and will see the participation of over 100 countries with expected 5 million visitors. With its state-of-the-art architecture, Mega Silk Way promises visitors a world-class shopping and entertainment experience. Architects Chapman Taylor stated that the aim is to make Mega Silk Way an important route for Expo visitors and, after the exhibition, it is hoped that the complex will be a symbol of the exhibition for the years to come and one of Astana's main attractions. Mega Silk Way is set to become more than just the exhibition's gateway for its visitors but a further step in developing a promising and robust consumer-led economy.