“Blacklisted”: why Ashgabat entrepreneurs are forced to buy flats and cottages in Arkadagh

Turkmen entrepreneurs from Ashgabat are being forced to buy cottages and flats in the new “ghost town” Arkadag. If they resist, they will be blacklisted, deprived of licenses and the ability to travel abroad.

“Last week, the leadership of the union (Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan SPPT – ed.) held a meeting with wealthy entrepreneurs who have Ashgabat residence registration and passed the “uch-arka” check, i.e. have a “clean pedigree”. The head, threatening the entrepreneurs, forced them to buy housing in Arkadag,” an Ashgabat entrepreneur told Radio Azatlyk on condition of anonymity and added that the SPPT head said that the entrepreneurs “got rich thanks to Arkadag” and now it was time for them to “contribute to the city of Arkadag”.

Notably, a cottage and a flat are among the minimum conditions for property acquisition. If entrepreneurs fail to do so – they will be deprived of their patents, their enterprises will be closed and they will no longer be able to work with the state. Such requirements, according to the officials, are related to the lack of financial resources to continue the construction of the second phase of Arkadag City.

In addition, the official, who was addressing the entrepreneurs, read the speech from a pre-prepared sheet of paper. Such indicates that this demand was given from above.

Thus, the participants of the meeting, realizing the risks of not meeting the requirements, have already started to look for property in Arkadag. In total, 300 properties should be bought according to the “plan”. Estimates of funds to be contributed to the construction budget of the second phase of Arkadag City start from 200 million dollars.

Meanwhile, the Turkmen authorities call Arkadag the country’s first “smart city”. But no one wants to buy property there voluntarily for several reasons:

  • Only citizens with residence registration in Gokdep or Ashgabat are allowed to buy property in Arkadag.

2) The cost of housing is several times higher than its state price. That is the cheapest cottage costs 1 million dollars, and a 4-room flat – from 350 thousand dollars.

3) Living in a “smart city” is like a prison sentence. All because the city has strict rules, it is forbidden to enter Arkadag by private transport, and there is no possibility of doing business or even buying a shop.

Recall, that Arkadag is located 25 kilometers west of Ashgabat and is designed for 70 thousand residents. Construction of the city, the announced project cost is 5 billion dollars and is carried out in two stages. The first stage was completed and inaugurated on 29 June 2023. “Smart City” was named in honor of former President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and father of the current head of state Serdar Berdimuhamedov, which, according to observers, looks nothing more than a cult of personality of the Turkmen leader. After all, there was no urgent need to start such a project and build Arkadag in the period of the worst economic crisis. So, it was the whim of the “master” of Turkmenistan.