Life beyond reason: why the implementation of Arkadag in Turkmenistan resembles a feast during the plague

On October 9, 2023, President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov held a regular weekly meeting with the hyakims of the velayats and the capital, at which the heads of the regions reported on sowing wheat, harvesting cotton and building facilities. It was on this day that the chairman of the Khalk Maslakhaty, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov (father of the current president), was also presented with plans for the construction of a number of facilities in Ashgabat and Arkadag.

The Chairman of the State Committee for the Construction of the City of Arkadag, Deryageldi Orazov, presented the general plan for the second stage of construction of Arkadag and models of two-story houses. This part of the city will be built on the site of the village of Gorjav, which was demolished this summer.

Reports from high-ranking officials beautifully spell out promises to build medical facilities and even a powerful power plant to power the city. Namely the construction:
• Scientific and Clinical Center for Physiology with 250 beds (on the site of the Railway Hospital);
• A treatment and rehabilitation center for 400 beds (on the site of a demolished parking lot and other buildings);
• Oncological research and clinical center for 500 beds (in the area of the Ashgabat morgue on the north-eastern outskirts of the capital near the Choganly district);
• Pediatrics Center for 160 places;
• Dental center at the intersection of Gorogly and 2072nd streets. (on the site of demolished residential buildings opposite the Emergency Center).

All this seems to sound fantastically promising, but during the catastrophic social situation in which the Turkmen people find themselves, the construction of “temples” is, at a minimum, not logical. While the population is massively looking for an opportunity to ensure a minimum standard of living, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov takes care of his appearance and flaunts in public in branded jackets worth $1,100. Meanwhile, about half of the Turkmen population, due to mass unemployment (more than 60%), are forced to work 12-14 hours a day outside of Turkmenistan as labor migrants. Moreover, the migration service is not ready to give all citizens the green light to leave.

How can one take care of the construction of new medical institutions in a country in which medicine is pretty lame and the population has no funds for treatment? The construction of Arkadag and the facilities in it is nothing more than a whim of the Berdimuhamedov family with the aim of being included in the Guinness Book of Records. This whole process is aimed at remaining in history, being heard and declaring to society one’s superiority: what a smart and wise ruler.

This is confirmed by the way the self-loving government consistently praises its own name. For example, at the beginning of October of this year, Turkmenistan established a new state award – the Arkadag medal, the purpose of which is to support humane initiatives, accumulated experience, and the growing authority of the Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov Charitable Foundation for providing assistance to children in need of care. And already on October 10, in the Oguzhan Palace complex, in honor of the celebration of the Day of Healthcare and Medical Industry Workers, President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov promptly received this award “for the implementation of organizational, legal and economic measures aimed at adapting children in need of special care and social support, as well as special merits in the development of charitable activities.”

As you can see, wisdom is not self-promotion, but the desire to prudently manage the entrusted funds: instead of building a “ghost town,” for example, restore highways between velayats (regions). Repair the passage between etraps (districts) within small dekhkan associations of small towns. Instead of a second dentistry, restore the collapsing bridges in the etraps… There are too many problems in the country, but instead of solving them step by step, the rulers focused their efforts on unnecessary awards, buildings, etc.

Along with everything, the authorities began modernizing the Akhal-Teke equestrian complex and presented a project for new structures planned for construction on its territory. Is this really more important now than ensuring the standard of living of the population? The list of buildings also includes the construction of a combined power plant with a capacity of 1,574 megawatts, which will be built in the Balkan velayat.

In May, the Ministry of Energy extended the international tender for the turnkey construction of a combined power plant with a capacity of 1,574 MW in the Balkan region. On March 4, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov proposed building a high-voltage power plant in Turkmenistan: determining the construction site, developing a project, and holding a competition to select the company that will implement it. It was previously reported that a hybrid (wind and solar) power plant with a capacity of 10 megawatts would be built in the region. An investment of $25 million for the construction of the facility was provided by the Abu Dhabi Development Fund.

Let us remind you that the head of state has already signed the Resolution “On the implementation of the second stage of construction of the city of Arkadag.” The document provides for the start of construction work in October 2023 and the commissioning of facilities with full readiness for operation in September 2026.