07/15/2009, 00.00
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Five billion dollars for the Las Vegas of the Caspian Sea

In Turkmenbashi on the Caspian Sea, oasis of Avaz is being built: four monumental hotel, villas, casinos, an island and an artificial ski resort, an international airport. The project is funded by proceeds from the sale of gas. But the country's average annual salary is 6,800 dollars and unemployment is at 60%.

Ashgabat (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Four monumental white marble hotels, villas with views of the Caspian Sea, casinos, an island and an artificial ski resort, an international airport. It is the Avaz project (see photo), an oasis in the desert that the government of Turkmenistan is currently realising in Turkmenbashi.

The four hotels, decorated in a cold and monumental style, are ready and were opened last month at the initial public launch of what Murat Kariyev, chairman of the Country’s Electoral Commission defines the "window of Turkmenistan to the world ".  

The project costs 5 billion dollars, all from the annual revenue from the sale of gas, estimated at 7 billion. Turkmenistan is the fifth world power in energy reserves. The country is a strategic partner for Russia, China, United States, Europe and Iran, but at the same time is the target of big companies such as Gazprom, which wants to extend its dominion over the region taking a leading position and monopoly in the management of gas.

For supporters of the project, the Avaz oasis is seen as an attempt to open Turkmenistan up to the world rescuing it from the isolation into which, particularly Russia, would like to force it. For detractors, the Las Vegas of the Caspian Sea is further evidence of the despotism of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. Approximately 5 million people live in the country, most of whom live in the rural areas and are employed in the national cotton industry. Some statistics show that the annual salary per head is on average around 6,800 dollars and that 60% of the population is unemployed.

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