Incredible abandoned £80bn mega-project to build 55 new islands | World | News

What once was envisioned as a grand spectacle of modern engineering, a development that would have placed landlocked Azerbaijan firmly on the map of the world’s most ambitious architectural ventures, now sits largely abandoned.

The Kazar Islands project, a £80 billion mega-development on the Caspian Sea, was intended to be a sprawling cityscape of 55 artificial islands interconnected by more than 150 bridges, housing everything from residential apartments and high-end hotels to a Formula 1 racetrack.

Today, the reality is quite different: empty, unfinished buildings and underdeveloped islands remain. Launched in 2010 by Azerbaijani businessman Ibrahim Ibrahimov, the Kazar Islands were meant to rival Dubai’s ambitious projects like the Palm Islands.

The project would have included luxury shops, a yacht club, an equestrian centre, and the world’s tallest skyscraper, towering above even the Burj Khalifa.

The ambitious vision was driven by Azerbaijan’s oil wealth, with the hope of attracting international attention and further investment.

But despite the impressive blueprint, the project failed to take off. Economic challenges, coupled with questions about feasibility and environmental impact, led to significant delays and eventually brought construction to a halt.

The ambitious goal of creating a luxurious oasis on the Caspian Sea, which would draw wealthy investors and tourists, was ultimately not realised.

Several factors contributed to the project’s failure. The initial euphoria surrounding Azerbaijan’s oil wealth began to wane as global oil prices fluctuated, leading to economic instability. Furthermore, logistical issues and a lack of proper infrastructure hampered the development.

Critics also raised concerns about environmental sustainability and the potential impact on local ecosystems. With only a handful of islands partially developed and a few unfinished buildings, the site is a stark reminder of the fine line between ambition and overreach.

Questions remain about the future of the Kazar Islands. For now, Azerbaijan seems to be shifting focus towards more manageable projects that prioritise sustainability and social impact.

The Kazar Islands may not have lived up to their grand promise, but they serve as a cautionary tale in the world of mega-projects, where vision and reality often struggle to meet.

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