American fast-food stalwart McDonald’s announced last week that it was partnering with Kazakhstan gas tycoon Kairat Boranbayev to set up its first outlet in the second half of 2015 in the Central Asian oil-rich nation.

The location is yet unspecified, but McDonald’s seems to have eyes on the nation’s richest city and financial capital, Almaty. Later burger joints to follow would be in the capital city Astana and other oilrich towns on the country’s western side.

McDonald’s Europe president Doug Goare declared: "Our agreement with Kairat will enable us to continue to build our brand."

The launch comes at a difficult time for the fast-food giant in Russia, as over half of its 440 outlets are being scrutinised for reported violations of health and safety regulations. Nine joints have been shut down for the time being, though the allegations are denied by McDonald’s.

Kazakhstan has strategically distanced itself from its close economic partner Russia, which has been recently subject to sanctions by the West, indicating an open door policy for overseas investors.

The small population of 17 million in this expansive country has a voracious appetite for fast food that is propelled by oil-fuelled consumerism, mushrooming shopping malls and an already present KFC and Burger King.

McDonald’s, which usually modifies its menus according to the local tastes, kept mum about rustling up an equine burger for horseflesh fancying Kazakhstanis.