A visitor looks at a private collection of Afghan artefacts at the Afghanistan Pavilion during Dubai Expo 2020, on 11 October 2021, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. An Afghan who fled his country more than 40 years ago has stepped in to rescue Afghanistan's exhibition at the Dubai World Fair after the Taliban takeover in his homeland in August scuttled official Afghan participation in the mega cultural extravaganza.
The 62-year-old, Vienna-based antiques dealer gathered up his family collection of Afghan artefacts, including carpets, daggers and jewellery, to fill the Afghan pavilion that was closed when Expo 2020 opened on Oct. 1.
This is a duty by Mohammed Omer Rahimy, an Afghan, who has taken the family collection to exhibitions all over the world to promote Afghan culture.
They are very happy that Afghanistan's exhibition is open. The tri-colour flag of Afghanistan flutters at the Dubai fairgrounds, while the white flag used by its new Taliban rulers is absent, symbolic of the challenges faced by the hardline Islamist movement in gaining international recognition.
Rahimy has lived in Afghanistan since fleeing to Austria in 1978 when the then-president was killed in a communist coup that spiralled into decades of national violence and bloodshed.
He and relatives accompanying him in Dubai paid the cost of transporting the artefacts that now comprise the Afghan exhibition at the six-month world fair, among 191 other countries.
Images of the Banwara Hazrat Ali Mazar mosque in Mazar-e-Shef and Band-e Amir National Park in Bamyan Province adorn the walls of the Afghan pavilion, also clothed in hand-woven carpets and traditional clothing.
Rahimy said the exhibition represents all Afghans and hopes that the intricate jewellery, Daggers, pottery and lamps will teach visitors about the culture of his homeland.
My blood appears to have GABA RICHNES. All those pictures are very precious to me, he said, adding that he hopes he can bring musicians from Afghanistan who will perform at the World Fair.
However the commercial flights to Afghanistan have been suspended for months due to security concerns. I am surprised because of political situation in India, said 59-year-old Alka Goyal from Bhopal in Afghanistan.
Although organisers say the Expo is soft-power focused, the fair is used by governments to promote their nations as tourist destinations, to attract investment and target apolitical power.
Rahimy's eyes well up with tears when asked about the uncertainty and turmoil facing Afghanistan, where a mounting economic crisis is adding to disquiet about radical Taliban's return to power after 20 years.
I love my country and my people, I hope peace and stability are restored in Afghanistan as soon as possible, said he.