Turkmenistan's flashy capital is sprawling. Who is building it? And who is buying? The answers aren't clear. But city planners must be burning through cash as fast as the wells can pump the gas out of the ground. And some local residents, inevitably, are being hurt by redevelopment.
The "white marble city" -- as Ashgabat is tagged by an annual, state-run development expo -- grows outward in neat lines of luminous residential towers with tinted blue windows. They look like the models in an architect's studio, but freakishly oversized and bulging, as if reflected in a funhouse mirror. In the middle of the day, and in the evening floodlights too, these new neighborhoods are eerie places - virtually empty.
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David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.