06.05.0705:34

CITY OF SCATTERED "PEARLS"
Transformation of Turkmen capital continues
Many people like talking heart-to-heart with taxi drivers. As for Ashgabat taxi drivers, I prefer to keep silent and watch them. It seems these people got used to the city as office people to their office rooms.

Saparmurat Niyazov was often called the president-constructor. The reason for the Turkmen leader's increased attention to changing the look of the main city of Turkmenistan was obvious. Even those people who are indifferent to fashion would feel difference in their mood, feelings and, possibly, world outlook if they change casual dress for a brand-new suit. This holds true for the "newly dressed" white marble city of Ashgabat that simply needed to take a fresh breath.

The new president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov, is clearly not going to stop half-way. The local plan of Ashgabat is expanded at every Cabinet meeting. Control over implementation of the earlier agreed projects is carried out at the top level. I wonder what new building would a taxi driver proudly point his finger at during my next visit to the Turkmen capital?

First, some 30 new high-risers will be built on orders of various ministries, establishments and banks of Turkmenistan in Ashgabat next year. It should be noted that employees of customer organizations are entitled to a 70% discount if they purchase a flat, and the annual interest rate on mortgage credits in Turkmenistan does not exceed 1%. New houses are mainly built by Turkish companies, and it is sometimes hard to differentiate them from fashionable hotels. It is only when it comes to buildings designed as architectural symbols of the capital that the difference can be seen.

One of these projects is State Institute of Transport and Communication which is to be erected in Neutrality of Turkmenistan Avenue in the near future. According to Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper, a foundation pit has been prepared for the 12-storey main building of the institute that will be surrounded by 4-storey study buildings. The building will be dressed in marble and granite in combination with tone glasses and decorative gild bars.

One can be stricken only by description of the new building for Turkmenhaly state corporation that will be built in the southeastern part of Ashgabat along with the Museum of Turkmen Carpet. The face side of Turkmenhaly will bear resemblance to the Turkmen carpet with traditional national ornaments. The building will be white marbled with "cloudy" of grey-blue glass windows. It would probably be better to come here in the evening to see this "miracle". Such buildings look particularly beautiful in the bright beams of searching lights.

I will surely need to ask a taxi driver to pull over at the bus stop near the capital's Olympic stadium where an underground trade center will be build soon. A new open market will be also built at the cross of Oguzhan and Gundogar streets. Shopping in Ashgabat is a topic of separate pleasant talk.

The State News Service (THD) has already reported that a tender for reconstruction of Ashgabat railway terminal was announced. A base for the 10-storey building of the Turkmen-Russian school named after Pushkin will be laid in the mid May. The president of Turkmenistan approved a project of a new building for Police Academy and second phase of construction of the Military Academy of Turkmenistan at a recent Cabinet meeting. This meeting also discussed the construction of Rukhnama University. The president also approved a project on construction of an original building to accommodate all the ministries and organizations of the agricultural sector of Turkmenistan that will be situated in Archabil Avenue, next to the planned building of Khalk Maslakhaty Palace.

While enumerating future architectural "pearls" of Ashgabat, one has to recall a project of a big stadium with an open arena for official celebrations of national and international holidays. This project was adopted recently. Judging by the picture posted in newspapers, the stadium will compete with any football arenas of Europe. And French Bouygues company representatives have already prepared a project of a new TV tower. However, we can only guess how it would look like.

I will definitely pay attention to roads during my next visit. It is no secret that a "belt" of six lane highway will soon encircle the Turkmen capital. The construction of the road is under way now. It is designed to lessen the traffic in the city roads, decrease deterioration of pavement and to recover ecologic situation in the capital. So, I will have a quick ride next time!

Georgiy MURAVIYEV
TURKMENISTAN.RU, 2007