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Dependent on its wealth of natural resources, Kazakhstan is now aiming to diversify its economy into seven areas linked to oil and gas to become one of the world’s top 50 most competitive countries by 2015. By Ginanne Brownell.

The windy steppe city of Astana, Kazakhstan, is a surreal place full of juxtaposing fantastical architectural influences. There are ‘ancient’ Greek ruins, a huge pyramid (designed by British architect Norman Foster, the official name is the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation), an apartment building reminiscent of the Seven Sisters skyscrapers in Moscow, and a Brandenburg-esque gate near the Palace of Independence. The KazMunaiGas gas building is an enormous structure that resembles a palace with a huge archway, while another Norman Foster-designed building, the Khan Shatyry (Royal Marquee), known locally as the ‘Giant Yurt’, is a soon-to-be-opened spectacular indoor city for 10,000 people that will accommodate shops, sports, a beach resort, a boating river and music complexes. Read more

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For the past 20 years, Rwanda’s image has been dominated by scenes of genocide and civil war. However, with its tourism sector now thriving, and areas such as ICT, banking and energy set to follow suit, Rwanda is poised to become Africa’s newest success story. Ginanne Brownell reports.

It is the smell that hits you first – a pungent, gamey combination of wet fur, urine and dead cedar – and about five beats afterwards, they materialise out of the dense jungle greenery, munching and plodding along over the muddied underbrush, swinging from the vines and tumbling over each other in careless abandon. Read more

Poland is the only country in Europe likely to register economic growth this year. It is now hoping to follow in the footsteps of the EU’s previous star pupil, Ireland, writes Ginanne Brownell.

It is early September in the Polish mountain village of Krynica. Strolling among the crowd of tourists are people such as former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar, Nobel Peace Prize winner (and Poland’s first post-Communist president) Lech Walesa and the EU’s commissioner for enterprise and industry, Günter Verheugen. But these politicians and former world leaders are not here for the spa facilities that this area is renowned for – they have come to network with more than 2000 top business executives, economists and politicians at the annual Krynica Economic Forum, dubbed ‘the Davos of eastern Europe’ Read more