By invitation only: Bhutan PM touts new business city that practises ‘mindful capitalism’, sustainability

THIMPHU, Bhutan: Businesses that want to set up in Bhutan’s new special economic zone will have to do so “by special invitation”, said the kingdom’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.

The Gelephu Mindfulness City, a bid to revive the country’s pandemic-hit economy, will cover 1,000 sq km, making it bigger than Singapore.

The city will be modern and represent a “new form of urban living”, Mr Tobgay told CNA in an exclusive interview. 

The zone will allow Bhutan to open up to the rest of the world while keeping the kingdom “true to our values and beliefs, our traditions and spirituality, our sense of sustainability”, he said. 

“(It will be) a city in which humans live in harmony with other humans and bring out the best in other humans … a living space in which humans live in harmony with nature, where spirituality and sustainability can live in harmony with human growth and progress, happiness and wellbeing,” he said.

Businesses that want to set up in the city must line up with such beliefs, he added. 

“Businesses must be consistent with the ideas on which Gelephu Mindfulness City is being started on. So you can’t just have a mindfulness city based on high ideals and values, and then have any and all types of businesses coming in. They will be vetted,” he said. 

“For Gelephu Mindfulness City, there’s a special invitation.” 

The city will be built near the town of Gelephu, along Bhutan’s southern border with India, and does not have a completion date as yet.

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