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Techno festival puts Aral Sea on music map

Uzbekistan's new open-door policy brings partygoers to dusty former fishing town

Once a thriving fishing community, Moynaq now lies dozens of kilometers from the receding banks of the Aral Sea. (Photo by Naubet Bisenov)

MOYNAQ, Uzbekistan -- When Uzbekistan began opening its doors to foreigners after years of insularity, few people in the government, or anyone else for that matter, would have expected crowds of techno fans in the deserts of Karakalpakstan.

But on Sept. 14, hundreds of revelers descended on the dusty town of Moynaq for Stihia, an electronic music festival on what were once the banks of the Aral Sea -- an event that received the unconditional blessing of the government in Tashkent.

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