BAKU Oil revenues have already fuelled a high-profile construction frenzy in the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan, but in an attempt to raise its profile further, the Caspian Sea country is looking to build the tallest building in the world.
Tentatively named Azerbaijan Tower, the planned 1,050 metre structure will dwarf Dubai's Burj Khalifa to look over Baku's largest development project which is planned to include dozens of artificial islands and a Formula One race track.
Following in the footsteps of other oil and natural gas-rich post-Soviet countries along the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan wants to use its newly found oil wealth to project an image of modernity in a country where the Nobel brothers struck oil more than a century ago.
A planned 41 islands that will dot the Caspian Sea will be connected by 150 bridges.
"One million people will live here...It will be Venice, new Venice," said Ibrahim Ibrahimov, the brains behind the project and the head of real estate developer Avesta, seen as close to President Ilham Aliyev.
Ibrahimov said that American, Turkish, Arab and Chinese investors have already showed their interest in the project which is expected to cost some $100 billion.
Ibrahimov said the project will be completed between 2020 and 2025.
Construction work is currently underway on a road system which will include a Formula-1 quality race track.
In an attempt to return Baku to the glamour it possessed during the years of its first oil boom more than a century ago, five-star hotels are under construction, as well as a sprawling, curvaceous construction designed by architect Zaha Hadid.
The country will host Eurovision song contest in May in another chance for Baku authorities to showcase the city. Rights groups and residents say that much of the new construction is being carried out with massive forced eviction of residents across the city.
(Writing by Margarita Antidze; and Thomas Grove, editing by Paul Casciato)
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