In a landmark address during the celebration of Bhutan’s 116th National Day, His Majesty The King announced the establishment of the Gelephu Special Administrative Region, to be known as the Gelephu Mindfulness City. This strategic move marks a transformative initiative aligned with the country’s vision for economic growth and global connectivity.
Addressing the nation, His Majesty highlighted the unprecedented economic transformation occurring in South Asia, presenting immense opportunities for the region. The announcement of the Gelephu Mindfulness City underscores Bhutan’s pivotal role in fostering economic corridors, linking South Asia to Southeast Asia via a vibrant land connection.
The Gelephu Special Administrative Region (SAR) is positioned as an economic hub, granted autonomy to formulate laws and policies needed for its sustainable development. With executive autonomy and legal independence, the SAR aims to create a unique and mindful economic center, anchored in the principles of Gross National Happiness (GNH). The Mindfulness City will prioritize conscious and sustainable businesses, drawing inspiration from Bhutan’s Buddhist spiritual heritage and preserving the country’s distinct identity.
Notably, His Majesty emphasized a stringent screening process for businesses and individuals entering Gelephu, ensuring alignment with Bhutanese culture, traditions, and values. The selection of businesses will be by invitation, focusing on those deemed most beneficial for the country and its people.
Covering an extensive area of 1000 square kilometers (250,000 acres), the Gelephu Mindfulness City is poised to bring substantial benefits to the entire nation. Major investments in public infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and airports, are anticipated, creating opportunities for economic growth and development. The influx of foreign investments is expected to spur the construction of offices, residences, schools, hospitals, and various businesses, contributing to a thriving economic landscape.
His Majesty underscored the positive impact on private sector opportunities, job creation, and the demand for goods and services. The benefits are envisioned to extend to all Dzongkhags, particularly benefiting farmers and providing lucrative markets for various products. The project is anticipated to address challenges related to migration, with a flourishing economy offering greater financial stability and distribution of wealth.
Three immediate priority areas were emphasized by His Majesty to support the Gelephu project: Energy, Connectivity, and Skills. The expansion of Bhutan’s energy sector, including hydropower, was identified as a key focus. Efficient and reliable connectivity, highlighted by the construction of an international airport in Gelephu, and improvements in digital infrastructure and connectivity, were identified as crucial components.
In expressing gratitude to the Government of India for their commitment to enhancing major roads and connecting border towns with railway lines, His Majesty reiterated the importance of international cooperation for the success of the Gelephu project.
The King stressed the significance of building up the skills of the Bhutanese people to ensure they do not miss the opportunities arising from the Gelephu Mindfulness City. His Majesty encouraged individuals to take advantage of opportunities for skill development, emphasizing the need to compensate for numerical limitations with the abilities and talent of the Bhutanese population.
In concluding the National Day Address, His Majesty The King reaffirmed his commitment to realizing the vision of the Gelephu Mindfulness City, placing his own life on the line for the sake of the extraordinary and noble people of Bhutan. The Gelephu initiative is hailed as a momentous undertaking, marking an inflection point in Bhutan’s history, and a gateway connecting the nation to a future of growth, innovation, and global engagement.