On 4 September the Chairman of the People's Republic of China and the President of Turkmenistan participated in the ceremony of commissioning the first phase of the gas field "Galkynysh". About 80 thousand inhabitants of the Mary velayat were involved in the festivities devoted to this event. Preparations started on 10 August.
When preparing for the large-scale festivities the local authorities primarily used the institutions of culture and higher education. The teaching staff and students of the Power Engineering Institute, teachers and schoolchildren from the seventh grade and above were engaged in daily rehearsals for a month despite summer holidays.
By the end of August children of pre-school age from kindergartens and junior graders were also involved in rehearsals.
In the night of 4 September, schoolchildren from the entire velayat were transported to Iolatan. They, along with adults – employees of various agencies and organizations, were urged to line up along the road from the Mary airport to "Galkynysh" gas field (the distance of 55 kilometers) at 5 a.m. These people forming a "live corridor" were expected to wave flags and flowers when the distinguished guests passed by.
Those who were scheduled to greet the President of Turkmenistan and China's Chairman at the airport were asked to congregate at the airport at 3 a.m. According to our sources, over a thousand people had to undergo a security control and screening procedure with the help of metal detectors, and only then were allowed to enter the airport building. The Turkmen President arrived at about 9 a.m. whereas his Chinese counterpart – at 9:40 a.m. Those who arranged a red-carpet welcome had to stand on their feet without food and drinks. Even after the high-ranking guests had left, nobody was allowed to leave the airport. People were informed that they would need to wait until the Chinese delegati?n returned from Iolotan and departed. This happened only at 4:00 p.m. Many people felt unwell and fainted. One ambulance was not enough and another medical aid team arrived later.
The Mary airport did not service any other flights on 4 September. The city was virtually cordoned off for the traffic. Vendors and caf� owners were prevented from opening their shops and restaurants. A similar situation was observed the next day as the Turkmen President stayed overnight at his residence popularly referred to as "the government's summer cottage".
As always happens during such events, the residents participating in "live corridors" are transported to the venue by bus and after the event is finished, just a few of those who had to spend over 10 hours lining up are brought back home. Many, including children, need to arrange transportation for the return trip at their own expense or walk many kilometers.