Awaza – also known as the Turkmenistan Tourist Zone – is located on the western coast, 12 km from the city of Turkmenbashy. In 2007, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow adopted a 1 billion dollar investment to make Turkmenbashy a ‘Turkmen Las Vegas’ – heavily inspired by Dubai’s tremendous development as an attractive tourist destination. Despite a 16-kilometer promenade with eight huge luxury hotels as well as park and recreation areas, a quick Google search tells us that in practice, only four hotels are currently operational. The big tourist boom is still waiting and the country’s travel agencies hardly run out of hotel capacity. If only the world would open its eyes to Turkmenistan as a holiday destination! Moreover, the prices are so high that the only very richest Turkmen can afford to spend the night there, which confirms Awaza’s narrative of creating a “Tourist Zone”.
Awaza in modern days
In 2018, Awaza was the center of the transnational industry conference on the TAPI oil and gas project, yet most of the area remains completely empty and unused.