Recently, Afghan artists and entertainers from across the globe gathered at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s Istana Budaya, which translates to “Palace of Culture,” for a star-studded event celebrating the community’s contributions to Afghan culture. Ariana Television Network hosted its 9th Annual ATN Awards ceremony on February 23, 2015, welcoming over 800 guests to the Malaysian cultural center and drawing an additional 45 million viewers via television and Internet broadcasts. Established by Ehsan Bayat in 2005, Ariana Television Network and Radio Ariana 93.5 serve as Afghanistan’s most expansive private media networks, broadcasting to more than 20 million Afghans in nearly every province.
In addition to honoring leaders in Afghan music and entertainment, the yearly event celebrates the country’s cultural heritage. Promoting unity among Afghans the world over, the ATN Awards strive to preserve and enhance Afghan culture by honoring those who have made significant contributions to it over the past year.
ATN accepted nominations until late December 2014 and received over 1,000 applications from Afghan performers around the world. In January, the network announced its finalists on both its website and its viewer’s choice show, allowing fans to vote for their favorite nominees. The 9th Annual ATN Awards featured male finalists such as Sediq Shubab, Valy Hedjasi, and Shafiq Mureed, as well as female entertainers including Naghma, Ghezaal Enayat, and Mozhdah Jamalzadah. Additionally, popular Afghan singer Asad Badie officiated as master of ceremonies for the fourth consecutive year. Awards presented included the Sitara-e-Hunar, Mardumi, and Lifetime Achievement Awards. ATN also introduced a new honor at the 2015 ceremony, the Jawedana Hai Moseqi Award, which recognizes a performer’s legacy of contribution to the Afghan arts community.
While there may be more remunerative investment strategies or easier hobbies, collecting classic cars can be incredibly satisfying, from hunting down a good deal or an obscure part to showing off your finds to friends, whether in your garage or at a major classic car show. Getting started with car collecting requires understanding the automobile market; following the automotive press and reading car-focused blogs and news sources will help you get a sense of how car prices rise and fall over time. While the definition of “classic car” generally means a car built between 1925 and 1948, many car collectors focus on classics from other eras. These are generally American and European vehicles, though many believe the next wave of investment-quality cars will be focused on Japanese manufacturers.
For the most part, car collectors focus on sourcing cars and parts from classified ads, Internet auctions, and local or regional collector meet-ups. Those looking to turn their collection into an investment asset should act with extreme care. The appreciation in value for cars is dependent on many factors, from care and maintenance to popularity, and while antique cars can make a good investment, it is crucial to factor in the price of restoration when purchasing a car for your collection, ideally by hiring an independent expert. Furthermore, the cost of storing and maintaining a car collection must be factored into your decision-making process.
September 2014 brought calls from members of Afghanistan’s government for better security and an improved policy for dealing with narcotics, according to coverage by Ariana News, a project of Ehsan Bayat’s Ariana Radio and Television Network. On September 21, Ariana News reported on concerns expressed by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MoCN). Six days later, it covered calls from parliament members for a security agreement.
MoCN, after a two-day workshop involving several governors, expressed concern over increasing narcotics cultivation, particularly in Helmand Province. The governors of Helmand and several other provinces have been cooperating to eradicate poppy cultivation, but they say that insecurity in their areas has made the task difficult. The ministry went on to criticize the Afghan government and the international community for offering insufficient support for counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan.
The following week, Ariana reported on remarks made by members of the Afghan parliament seeking a security agreement with the United States. The members asked the new unity government to move forward with the agreement, stating that forces controlled by Afghanistan alone were insufficient to the task of securing the country. They hoped their call would move officials to swift action.
In 2013, the American University of Afghanistan launched the International Center for Afghan Women’s Economic Development (ICAWED) on its campus in Kabul. Offering resources such as a library, a business incubator, and computer labs, the center works to organize and support groups that share the goal of women’s empowerment.
On June 25, 2014, ICAWED collaborated with the U.S. Embassy and Afghan Chamber of Commerce to provide a valuable professional networking opportunity for local businesswomen. Titled “National Business to Business,” the event hosted representatives from a number of Afghanistan’s most prominent corporations. These professionals represented a wide range of industries, including communications and logistics. Companies from commodity sectors, including mining and manufacturing, were also present.
The business networking event aimed to connect leading firms with female business owners to facilitate ongoing partnerships. It served as an opportunity for both large corporations and small businesses to share their operational goals while exploring possibilities for future working relationships.
National Business to Business is just one example of ICAWED’s commitment to women’s professional empowerment. In February 2014, it hosted the Afghan Women’s Economic Forum, and in March, it welcomed more than 500 guests to a celebration commemorating International Women’s Day.
From its office in Kabul this June, Bayat Energy announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with global oil services provider Schlumberger Limited. The document outlines a detailed plan to initiate discussions toward a nonexclusive agreement under which Bayat Energy will buy and/or lease equipment to be used in the development of Afghanistan’s hydrocarbon resources.
Bayat Energy focuses on investments in under-explored regions of Afghanistan, with the aim of advancing Afghanistan’s economy and enabling the nation to become a viable supplier in central Asia. As part of its development initiative, Bayat Energy also directs efforts toward responsible power generation in the communities where it operates and throughout Afghanistan. Additionally, the company’s experienced management team strives to employ local professional talent who understand the complex regional politics. In this way, Bayat Energy aims to operate more effectively, while ensuring the best outcomes for local stakeholders.
The agreement with Schlumberger, the leading provider of information, technology, and management services to the world’s oil and gas industry, promises to significantly boost both Bayat Energy’s hydrocarbon production and its greater economic development efforts. Schlumberger operates in more than 80 countries and employs 123,000 energy professionals.
The Bayat Foundation, launched in 2006 by Afghan Wireless Communication Company founder Ehsan Bayat and his wife, assists the people of Afghanistan with a variety of basic needs.
The foundation recently announced the construction of new water wells in several areas: the third district of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital; Herat Province in the western portion of the country; and Parwan Province, north of Kabul. Over the past few years, the Bayat Foundation has stepped up its efforts to facilitate access to clean water for Afghanistan’s people.
Millions of Afghan citizens regularly transport contaminated water from rivers, ponds, and streams to their homes. By using this water, people contribute to the spread of disease.
Today, significant numbers of people in the country lack safe drinking water. In 2013, only about one-quarter of the population could take advantage of clean water sources. Moreover, the people most in need of clean water live not only in rural areas, but also in developed ones. Even in Kabul, only about 25 percent of people can access clean, safe water. Afghanistan is not alone in this crisis: The World Health Organization notes in a 2014 report that, although the lives of billions of people around the globe have improved through better sanitation and water-supply infrastructure in recent years, progress has been uneven. Worldwide, numerous inequalities in access to clean water remain and have even increased in certain regions.
The Bayat Foundation aims to improve the overall health of the Afghan people by providing wells, developing infrastructure and sanitation systems, and offering medical services to geographically isolated individuals.
While recent world news headlines have portrayed Afghanistan as a place of turmoil and military conflict, the mountainous central Asian nation has a distinguished history as the home of a unique culture.
Afghanistan developed as a civilization because of its situation along major ancient, medieval, and contemporary trade routes linking Europe and the West with the East. Afghanistan’s geographic situation has additionally made it the focus of large population movements, as well as outside invasions, over the centuries. Yet, all these influences came together to produce sophisticated works of art marked by a harmonious blend of numerous traditions.
The town of Aq Kupruk in Balkh Province contains the remains of Paleolithic technology dating from about 30,000 BCE to about 2,000 BCE. The area is also home to Achaemenid Iron Age artifacts from the 6th century BCE and remnants of simple buildings and Buddhist frescoes from approximately 200 to 700, during the Kushano-Sasanian time period.
Afghanistan encompasses not only the remains of Buddhist stupas, or shrines, but also examples of ancient Greek construction and medieval monasteries. During the 9th and 10th centuries, a variety of Islamic-led dynasties arose, leading to the construction of numerous mosques and minarets. The blue tiles of the mosques at Mazar-e Sharif and Herat continue to offer striking examples of the high points of Muslim art in the region.
Additionally, Afghanistan has long been known for its finely developed arts of book illustration, silver and gold jewelry fabrication, fine leather crafts, and elegant embroideries. Woven Afghan rugs have also achieved worldwide popularity.