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Tajikistan Begins Construction Of New City In Desert

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon (right) inspects plans for the new desert city

Tajikistan has begun the construction of a brand new city in a desert area in the country's north to provide housing and jobs for local residents.

President Emomali Rahmon took part in a ceremony on March 24 to lay the cornerstone of what he said would be a modern city for some 250,000 people.

Saihoon, named after a nearby river, is to be built on a 14,000-hectare desert land some ten kilometers north of Khujand, the country's second city, in the Sughd Province.

The president's website said the new city will have 19 residential areas, some 50 schools, 40 sports centers, and numerous shopping centers and bazaars.

A total of 7,000 hectares of the desert will be turned into orchards, the website said.

It did not give an estimated cost for the project but it said it would be financed from the state budget, while Rahmon urged private business leaders to help.

The average monthly salary is about $150 in Tajikistan, which is the poorest country in former Soviet Central Asia and depends heavily on remittances from Tajiks working in Russia.