Ashgabat: Expensive living rings hollow in a deserted land of make believe

For most expats, Turkmenistan or for the purposes of this exercise its capital Ashgabat, would not rank highly on a list of locations they expect to find themselves. The hydrocarbons sector is heavily underpinned by foreign nationals brought in by countries sitting on a wealth of gas and oil, and accounts for a significant proportion…

Turkmenistan: Why some keep friends in low places

In a world connected by data, rolling news, and instant messaging there can be little excuse for ignorance. Drilling down into almost any conceivable issue within modern society and those redolent of another age is as easy today as can be imagined, but the devils of fake news, hearsay, and online maliciousness remain very much…

Turkmenistan: A presidential portrait of modern-day narcissism wrapped in despotism

In 2004 the Harvard Business Review called it right. Their take on narcissists concluded that the vainglorious are "unproductive when, lacking self-knowledge and restraining anchors, they become unrealistic dreamers. They nurture grand schemes and harbour the illusion that only circumstances, or enemies block their success". Does all this sound terribly familiar, even in the modern…

Turkmenistan: When seeing is not believing in a land of (totalitarian) pretence

The continued bizarre, contrary modus operandi of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedow again highlights the former dentist's despotic hold over the former Soviet republic. Self-styled as a deity predestined to shepherd the nation to greatness through his many initiatives that often amount to little more than yet another Potemkin-esque, white elephant construction project, Berdymukhamedow's absolute grip…