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For centuries a ‘hidden’ kingdom, Bhutan has revealed a bold plan to make the country an economic hub of South Asia.

The King of Bhutan plans to develop the Gelephu Mindfulness City Special Administrative Region (SAR) in the south of the Kingdom.

The Gelephu Mindfulness City (GMC) masterplan proposes a low-density urban destination for business, culture and spirituality, melding Bhutanese tradition, nature and modern living.

GMC is also the gateway for tourists to the rest of Bhutan, nestled between two nature reserves – the Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary and Royal Manas National Park – as well as connected to Thimphu via Paro airport.

Nestled between mountains, forests and rivers, Bhutan stands as one of the last biodiversity hotspots in the world, with 70 per cent of the country covered in forest.

The Mindfulness City will cover an area of more than 1,000 sq. kms, which is around 2.5 per cent of the total surface area of the country.

“The Gelephu Masterplan gives form to His Majesty’s vision to create a city that becomes a cradle for growth and innovation while remaining founded on Bhutanese nature and culture,” said Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director, BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, the Danish architects charged with drawing up the King’s plans.

“We imagine the Mindfulness City as a place that could be nowhere else. Where nature is enhanced, agriculture is integrated and tradition is living and breathing, not only preserved but also evolved.”

The first milestone in the SAR’s development was the groundbreaking ceremony for a new international airport, which took place on December 23, while a railway dry port is already under construction.

Bhutan is known worldwide for being a haven of pristine natural beauty, spirituality and unique cultural traditions. The SAR is the world’s ‘Modern Buddhist Lifestyle Destination’ for spirituality, wellness and rejuvenation.