Tag Archives: Soviets

Oil islands: a trip to Azerbaijan

oil rocks

I’ve recently returned from a trip to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. This is the first of a couple of articles I wrote during my trip, a piece for the New Statesman, which contrasts two island utopias off the Caspian coast: one a 1940s Soviet city on stilts for oil workers, the other a fantastical series of new artificial islands inspired by capitalist Dubai.

Azerbaijan is a newly oil-rich state, which gained independence in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. While it has modernised at a fantastic pace, it still faces major problems of corruption and inequality.

The countryโ€™s rebrand is all pervasive. In Baku, whole districts have been bulldozed to make way for shining glass skyscrapers. In others, Soviet-style apartment blocks have been simply concealed under glossy veneers, like bad teeth.

Full story is up on the New Statesman’s website here, or after the break

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