Awaza, the pride of Turkmenistan
Awaza! The main and the only tourist resort, the oasis on the shores of Caspian sea, local Dubai, Maldives and Antalya. I don't know what the locals haven't compared it to. A lot of money was poured in over 10 years, tens of hotels were built in the desert, a forest was planted and a channel dug so that the tourists could ride boats.
All local state medias praise M. Berdimuhamedow's genius for the creation of the international tourist resort, despite the building contracts with the Turks was signed during his predecessor's reign. So the Arkadag just took the idea and continued it. The total land area of the resort is 5 thousand hectares; it stretches for 26 km (16 miles) along the sea shore.
The first three hotels were opened in 2009 by Berdimuhamedow. He promised to turn Awaza into “new Las Vegas”. It was known then that the state had invested 1,5$ billion over two years. In 2013 there were talks of 5€ billion in investments, as Slon magazine mentions. The investors were probably attracted by promises of oil exploration and extraction on the Caspian shelf. It is not really known how much the state itself spent on Awaza. The opposition media estimated in 2013 about 2€ billion was spent.
The government ministries are the main customers for the hotel buildings in Awaza. Just like in the Soviet Union every ministry had its own sanatorium. Apart from the hotels, there was a power plant and a water desalination plant built, and Turkmenbashi airport was renovated so that it could accept all types of aircrafts. During the last years cottages began to appear around the hotels, probably destined for the state elite since there is really no one capable of buying such houses here.
By 2020 the authorities promise to build a dolphinarium, a planetarium, SPA resorts, football stadiums, race tracks, velodromes and an open air museum with miniature versions of all the Turkmen landmarks. If all these plans are realized, it will truly look like something in between Las Vegas and Dubai.
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