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Intercontinental Hotel Kabul 15, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Central Asia.
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The Intercontinental was perched above the city with wonderful views. It was where the western businesspeople, the diplomats and the rich tourists all stayed. But it also quickly became the place for the Kabul elite to go – for tea, for parties, and for weddings. They were the modern people of Kabul who were helping to make the King’s vision come true.They were also a “slimy opportunistic clique” – according to Nancy Hatch Dupree. She was an American archaeologist who knew everyone in Kabul.

And then rock music came to Kabul, courtesy of the Intercontinental Hotel.

The Intercontinental’s food and beverages manager asked a musician called Claude Selvaradna to create a house band for the hotel. Claude had been a sergeant in the Sri Lankan army but now he lived in Kabul and he knew that rock music was the future. He brought in some musicians from Sri Lanka and put together a band he called The Esquire Set.

For what can probably be described as the definitive history of Kabul take your time and go through its history at Adam Curtis’ blog at the BBC.

Al Azhar opening up in Kabul 20, March 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Central Asia.
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Instead of a Middle Eastern country attracting foreign institutions to set up shop in some kind of ‘Education Zone’, this time the tables are turned as Egypt’s famous Al Azhar University is opening an Islamic Institute in Kabul. The Al Azhar is, of course, not only important in Egypt but one of the most influential and important seats of Islamic learning in the world. Its foray into Afghanistan is a fascinating move. These kinds of exchanges are the perfect vehicles for soft power enhancement. This is another way to describe building up a good relationship with others so that, over a given decision, ‘they’ will seek to – starkly put – do as you want because they want to help you and not because you cajole or force them to.

Hat tip: Andrew Bishop