Turkmenistan's 'Dubai on the Caspian'

Sometimes, a lifetime can be too short for a ruler's ambitions. Turkmenistan's first president, the megalomaniac Saparmurat Niyazov, fulfilled his dream of turning Ashgabat, once a dusty town on the southernmost rib of the Soviet Union, into a fairy-tale landscape strewn with white marble facades to show his power. The stunning architecture of the capital city, Niyazov thought, should serve to herald the energy-rich country's rising economic prosperity.

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