Sipopo, Equatorial Guinea — 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 €600m, initially to host a week-long AU summit and showcase the rise of the tiny oil-rich state. A 16km drive from Equatorial Guinea’s capital, Malabo, the resort boasts a vast conference centre, the Sofitel Malabo Sipopo Le Golf hotel and 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. But on ...

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