Friday, July 19, 2024

Will Bhutan’s Proposed ‘Mindfulness City’ Lure Back the Diaspora Community?


Exploring Bhutan’s Vision for a “Mindfulness City”: A Call Home for the Diaspora

Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has introduced a visionary plan for a “mindfulness city” in Gelephu, aimed at reversing the country’s brain drain and enticing Bhutanese living abroad to return home. This innovative city plans to harness green technology, education, and health, reflecting the kingdom’s commitment to Gross National Happiness (GNH) and sustainability. Bhutan, known for its captivating landscapes and unique cultural heritage, seeks to develop this city as a vibrant economic hub, stimulating economic growth and opportunities.

As Bhutan graduates from the United Nations’ category of “least developed countries,” it faces the challenge of a pandemic-stricken economy and a significant out-migration trend, notably to Australia. The “mindfulness city” is anticipated to not only attract foreign investment with compelling incentives but also honor Bhutan’s environmental and spiritual uniqueness. With an area of 1,000 square kilometers, Gelephu is positioned to become a distinctive city, embracing conscious sustainable businesses inspired by Buddhist spiritual heritage.

The master plan, crafted by Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group, envisions a high-tech metropolis infused with traditional Bhutanese culture, aiming to integrate nature, agriculture, and tradition in a pioneering way. Among its features are a new international airport, railway connections, and a hydro-electric dam.

This endeavor has garnered enthusiasm among Bhutanese worldwide, seen as a meritorious strategy to counteract the brain drain by improving economic opportunities and overall well-being in Bhutan. Tashi Kipchu, a Bhutanese student in Australia, views the diaspora’s departure not as a loss but as an opportunity to gain and later contribute skills and knowledge to Bhutan. Inspired by the Gelephu project, he aspires to return and contribute to this groundbreaking initiative.

Bhutan’s approach to this “mindfulness city” signifies a novel blend of economic, cultural, spiritual, and environmental elements, making it a distinctive project on the global stage.

Alexandra Bennett
Alexandra Bennett
Alexandra Bennett is a seasoned business journalist with over a decade of experience covering the global economy, finance, and corporate strategies. With a Bachelor's degree in Economics and a Master's in Business Journalism from Columbia University, Alexandra has built a reputation for her insightful analysis and ability to break down complex economic trends into understandable narratives. Prior to joining our team, she worked for major financial publications in New York and London. Alexandra specializes in mergers and acquisitions, market trends, and economic

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