Afghanistan pavilion arrives at Dubai Expo amid turmoil

Dubai – When the Afghan president was assassinated in a communist coup in 1978 and the country was in turmoil, Mohammed Omerlahimy fled to Vienna with his family’s treasures.

Over 40 years later, in an even more violent turmoil in his home country, Rahimie realized he was desperately loading the same artifacts onto a cardboard plane filled with cotton. This is the first universal exhibition in the Middle East.

For Rahimy, 62, it was a wild ride at the Dubai Expo. He barely slept. But Rahimy was careful. He chose from the best bronze, jade, calligraphy and pottery from the vast collection of Afghan antiques gathered in Austria over the decades that arrived at the fair earlier this week.

“It is important for the world to know that our history is rich despite the war and that we are poor. Our culture is rich, ”said Rahimy.

He felt the stakes were high. A historic trade fair was held, but weeks after the Taliban hijacked the country at lightning speed, Afghanistan was nowhere to be found at the trade fair. Images of the Afghan National Pavilion, closed at the Dubai Expo, are unplanned office space that hasn’t been planned for days, strewn across the internet, implicating the turmoil that has shown the Taliban’s return to power. to augment.


“It was very painful to see the exhibition close. I begged the show… please let me do something good for my people, ”said Rahimy.

The former Afghan administration staged an exhibition months before the fall of Kabul and exiled President Ashraf Ghani fled to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Most flights to and from Afghanistan were still on hold, and the country was mindful of the abyss of the economy, so Rahimmy would have left the lodge ghostly empty if he hadn’t intervened. I told you to do it.

Rahimy, a freelance antique dealer who has long supported the supply of display cases in Afghanistan, said he has now paid for shipping heirlooms and other artwork from Vienna to Dubai. The collection includes rusty oil lamps carved in 16th-century Islamic calligraphy, a dazzling lapis lazuli necklace mined from the north of the country, and a hand-woven giant whose scent he says still remains. The mat is included.


“The Afghans have neither water nor bread. It’s time to feel that this kind of exposure is really needed, ”he said.

Rahimy can talk for hours at a Quranic book stand made from the history of the Afghan jade and perfume trade. But when asked about his myriad of relatives who remained in Kabul under the new Taliban ruler, he becomes silent. Only his niece managed to escape and flew to Philadelphia on the last day of the US-led evacuation.

“They are the same as everyone,” he said of his relatives who remained in Afghanistan.

Rahimy maintains that the overall goal of the Afghan pavilion is to put aside the turmoil in the country. But like elsewhere in the Dubai exhibit, modern politics can still creep in. Pavilion staff will stamp a visitor’s fake passport with the national emblem of the Afghan government, which was created after the 2001 US invasion. This is not the version of the Quran used by the Taliban in the previous reign .


A traditional Afghan folk instrument, the Labab hangs on a wall. According to Rahimy, the player is too scared to play as the Taliban currently faces an uncertain future with signs of a decision to ban non-religious music. ..

At the end of America’s longest war, a larger context is not lost for visitors to the pavilion after a scene of angst and anxiety grips much of the world.

“The people scene at Kabul airport speaks louder than anything else,” said Chamari Smith, 36, who lives in St Helens, England. But when she scanned the shelves of saffron and Afghan stones, she added:

Rahimy is proud that Afghanistan has finally opened its doors to the exhibition. He hopes the six-month temporary exhibition can provide a more lasting picture of what his country was and what it was.


“The diet comes and goes. People die old, but the earth remains. The mountains remain, ”he said. “People wear amulets, play musical instruments and wash their hands in bowls for good luck. “

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