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Turkmenistan to build 'Palace of Happiness'

Finds original way to cope with global financial crisis

The Central Asian country of Turkmenistan has found an original way of coping with the global financial crisis: if your people are sad, build them a "Palace of Happiness."

The reclusive ex-Soviet republic said Tuesday that it would build the palace as part of over $1billion (€753 million) worth of construction projects to beautify the capital Ashgabat and make it more liveable.

"President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov signed a series of documents under which several important community structures will be built in Ashgabat at a cost of over $1 billion," state newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan wrote.

The Palace of Happiness -- to be used as a wedding hall -- will cost over €100 million ($133 million), said the newspaper, a mouthpiece for the government of the energy-rich country.

Turkish construction firm Polimeks won over $200 million in contracts as part of the projects, which will also see an additional 2,000 hotel rooms built in Ashgabat.

The announcement comes one week after Turkmenistan unveiled plans to build a $1billion Olympic village, including a winter sports complex, despite the fact that the desert nation is not due to host any upcoming Winter Games.

Garish construction projects sprang up across Turkmenistan during the rule of dictator Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in 2006, even as much of the population remained mired in poverty.

His successor Berdymukhamedov has erased some of the more bizarre aspects of Niyazov's personality cult but has come under fire from critics who accuse him of simply replacing it with his own.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov signed a series of documents under which several important community structures will be built in Ashgabat at a cost of over $1 billion

State newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan