NUR-SULTAN – What is a weekend in the Kazakh capital like? One of the best ways to find out is to visit the city’s arbat, a pedestrian promenade. The capital’s arbat is located along the Yessil River. It is a stage for street performers, a point for street food trucks, outdoor cafes, and a bazaar type space for people selling handmade crafts and paintings.
The first arbat in Kazakhstan appeared in Almaty in 1980s inspired by the Arbat, one of the oldest surviving Russian pedestrian streets. Many people debate around arbat’s etymology. Some argue that it comes from Turkic word “arba” for “cart.” The most common hypothesis, however, is that the word comes from Arabic word “rabad/rabat” meaning “suburbs.” The Russians could have borrowed the word from the Crimean Tatars or other eastern merchants.
While Almaty’s arbat and the Arabic rabad are mainly shopping streets, the arbat in Nur-Sultan is a place people go to take long walks with friends, drink coffee and enjoy the view of the river mirroring the sky and the sun. To the joy of the capital’s residents, the Nur-Sultan Akimat (city administration) has started the construction of one more arbat along Omarova Street, the akimat press service reported.
The new arbat will be entirely a recreational area where visitors can enjoy the fountain, hinged swings, and quiet zones. It will also have separate playgrounds for sports, active games for children, bike lanes, as well as spaces for free seminars and language lessons “a kind of coworking center,” Nur-Sultan Akim (Mayor) Altay Kulginov said.
“The head of the state pays special attention to the development of mass sports. After all, the path to professional sports and a healthy lifestyle begins with courtyard sports – from public spaces and courtyards that should be accessible to everyone,” Kulginov said.