Many Mongolians were surprised when, one day in 2004, a corrugated-steel fence suddenly went up around Ulaanbaatar’s 35-acre Children’s Park. They were horrified six years later when only a tiny four-acre fraction of the park reopened to the public, and plans emerged for the construction of a luxury hotel and other private developments on the rest of the area.
Ulaanbaatar’s skyline is increasingly cluttered with cranes these days. Runaway economic growth, which stood at 17 percent last year according to the World Bank, has fueled a race to build commercial complexes and housing units. As a result, Mongolia’s capital is losing its green spaces and public recreation facilities, often to illegal land-grabs and murky deals involving elected officials and entrepreneurs, activists contend.
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Pearly Jacob is a freelance journalist based in Ulaanbaatar.