As host for the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest, Baku is planning to show the world what it’s made of. Oil and natural gas have brought new wealth to Azerbaijan, and made its capital a modern and glittering metropolis.
The days when Baku was drab and dreary are long past. Now many facades have been clad in gleaming natural stone, and new high rises and luxury apartments are cropping up everywhere. Baku is trying to recast itself as the Caspian Sea’s answer to Dubai. But the newfound affluence is benefiting mainly the city’s oligarchs, who have a stranglehold on the local economy. As a result, ordinary residents are finding it increasingly difficult to afford life in the upscale – and expensive – metropolis.