Turkmenistan opens elaborate ‘smart city’ development

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Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. inaugurate / ɪnˈɔ gyəˌreɪt / (v.) – to officially open or introduce something that’s ready for use, such as a school, bridge, etc.

    The mayor will inaugurate the new museum in the city with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

  2. hail / heɪl / (v.) – to recognize someone/something with admiration or approval

    My uncle was hailed as a hero after he helped solve a crime.

  3. cult of personality / kʌlt ʌv ˌpɜr səˈnæl ɪ ti / (n.) – a situation in which people are encouraged to show intense devotion to a particular person, especially a political leader

    The country’s government used the media to create a cult of personality around the leader. Because of this, many people believe that he’s a good leader.

  4. prototype / ˈproʊ təˌtaɪp / (n.) – the original or first model of something which is later copied or developed

    Many companies are building spaceship prototypes that can reach other planets.

  5. elaborate / ɪˈlæb ər ɪt / (adj.) – made or done carefully or with many detailed parts

    A well-known architect designed this beautiful and elaborate building.


Read the text below.

The president of Turkmenistan officially inaugurated a vast, multibillion-dollar development hailed as the country’s first “smart city” and named after the president’s father, who established a pervasive cult of personality when he was the longtime ruler.

The city designed for 70,000 is named Arkadag (Protector), a title used by former president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who led the country for 15 years before being succeeded last year by his son Serdar.

The opening ceremony, led by Serdar Berdymukhamedov, featured a theatrical procession of local workers singing patriotic songs in honor of the city’s namesake. The city includes a monument of his father’s favorite horse, which established the Guinness world record for running 10 meters on its hind legs.

Located about 30 kilometers (about 18 miles) south of the capital Ashgabat, the “smart city” is being presented as a prototype for other Turkmen cities, featuring electric buses and automobiles, solar power and “smart” houses that residents can control via their smartphones. The first phase of Arkadag cost an estimated $3.3 billion.

Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Turkmenistan has been led by authoritarian regimes that allow no significant opposition and has sharply limited access from abroad. Both the elder Berdymukhamedov and his predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov developed cults of personality that included elaborate tributes and monuments.

The isolated country has also struggled to diversify its economy, which is overwhelmingly dependent on its vast natural gas reserves.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Do you think spending billions of dollars on a project like a smart city is a good investment? Why or why not? Would you support your government if it decides to build one? Discuss.
  • What multibillion-dollar project would you like your country to have (ex. renewable energy projects, space exploration and research)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What is your country’s form of government (ex. democracy, monarchy)? In your opinion, is this form of government effective? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • For more than 30 years, Turkmenistan has been led by authoritarian regimes that allow no significant opposition. Do you think there are pros to an authoritarian regime? Why or why not? Discuss.