(Arkadag) Turkmenistan on Thursday inaugurated with great fanfare its first “smart city” in honor of the strongman of this reclusive Central Asian country, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, on the occasion of his 66th birthday.
Baptized “Arkadag”, this city was solemnly opened during a sumptuous ceremony to which AFP journalists were invited, an exceptional invitation as access to this former Soviet republic is so rare.
Gurbangouly Berdymoukhamedov, who bears the titles of “Head of the Turkmen nation” and “Hero-Protector” (Arkadag) was not present for the inauguration of the city, whose construction, which began in 2019, cost 5 billion US dollars.
Still uninhabited, it should eventually accommodate some 70,000 people and meets many ecological standards, according to the authorities.
If he resigned from his post as president in 2022, handing over to his son Serdar, Gurbanguly Berdymoukhamedov took the head of a supreme body with immense prerogatives.
In the absence of the father, gone to Saudi Arabia to make the great Muslim pilgrimage of the hajj, it was the son Serdar who took care of inaugurating the city.
“Glory to Arkadag and Serdar, glory to the Turkmen leader,” chanted participants dressed in traditional Turkmen clothes, AFP noted.
In the center of the city there are various monuments, including one in gold in honor of Gurbanguly Berdymoukhamedov on his favorite horse, an akhal-teke.
“The Arkadag monument in the center of the new city is a tribute to the eminent politician of modernity and the great son of the Turkmen people Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov,” a member of the ministry of security told AFP on condition of anonymity. construction and architecture.
“The Hero-Protector constantly familiarized himself with the state of progress throughout the construction period of the city, giving valuable recommendations and advice. Through his efforts, a magnificent city has been built,” he continued.
During the construction of Arkadag, Gurbangouly Berdymoukhamedov had instructed the government to study the inscription in the Guinness Book of Records of this city, which he considers to be the “most beautiful, most original and largest in the region”.
Turkmenistan, at the bottom of RSF’s press freedom ranking, is accused by international human rights NGOs of spending lavishly its natural resource revenues on grandiose projects that bring very little benefit to the population.