Thursday, July 07, 2011

Turkmenistan's answer to Monaco is kaput

The Arkadag at the helm
A couple of years ago the former dentist and current President for Life of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, a.k.a. The Arkadag, became enamored with yachting. The Russian gas and resources company Itera gave him a gift of the €60m luxury yacht Galkynysh (Revival). It was the largest sized yacht that could fit in the canals leading to the Caspian Sea. As EurAsiaNet reports, it had "a helipad, an elevator, a sauna, an on-deck gym, and its own library."

When he first got it he and various dignitaries, presumably all dressed like Thurston Howell III, spent a lot of time aboard it. He even held cabinet meetings on the yacht.

Because of his enthusiasm for it, and because Turkmenistani leaders are prone to grandiose building schemes, it was decided to add marinas to the Turkmenistan resort of Avaza so that not only would it rival Las Vegas, but it would also be the Monaco of the Caspian Sea. Regular regattas, and even a race for the Avaza Cup were envisioned. 

Then the Arkadag lost interest in the yacht and the Caspian Monaco scheme fell out of favor. That is probably a good thing, because the only other place to sail in the Caspian is to Baku and its perpetual oil slick.  Still, the marina plans are still sort of plodding along. After all, if there is money to be wasted on crazy building plans, Turkmenistan is the place to waste it.

The bright spot in The Arkadag losing interest in yachting is the relief of the residents of the Port of Turkmenbashi where it is moored. When he used to visit the yacht the police made them stay inside and out of sight. Presumably The Arkadag didn't want the scenery spoiled by impoverished Turkmenistani bumpkins loitering about. 


Knucklehead said...

Well, depending on which of the conflicting reports, if any, turn out to be true, there may be a big hole that can be filled with water to become a lake around which a marina may be built.

ambisinistral said...

Well, that sucks for the people living in that town. This article has a cell phone video of the results of the "exploding fireworks".

Speaking about out of control fires in Turkmenistan, they also have the Door to Hell fire that's been burning for 40 years.