Gleaming but eerily empty، the luxurious Sipopo resort with its five-star hotel and exclusive facilities rises from a tropical beach، symbolising the dilemma of Equatorial Guinea -- a notoriously closed country that has turned to tourism to help fill its coffers.
The purpose-built town was carved out of an ancient forest in 2011 at a cost of 600 million euros ($670 million)، initially to host a week-long African Union summit and showcase the rise of the tiny oil-rich state، AFP reported.
A 16-kilometre (10-mile) drive from Equatorial Guinea's capital Malabo، the resort boasts a vast conference centre، the Sofitel Malabo Sipopo Le Golf hotel، as well as 52 luxury villas -- one for every head of state to attend the summit -- each with its own swimming pool.
There is also an 18-hole golf course، several restaurants and exclusive beaches guarded by police.
For almost a decade، Sipopo has been the crown jewel in a strategy to lure high-end visitors to Equatorial Guinea to diversify an economy badly hit by a slump in oil revenue.