Rebuilding Darulaman Palace with new generation of Afghans

World Today

In the first report on a five-part series in Afghanistan, we meet a young, U.S.-educated female engineer with big dreams and high hopes. But she also has fears about the current peace negotiations with Taliban and the future.

CGTN’s Sean Callebs has the first story of the series ‘Through Their Eyes: Afghanistan.’

In a way, the restoration of Kabul’s Darulaman Palace represents not only a step toward healing, and perhaps one toward peace and a real sign of change. The working conditions aren’t ideal. The building has been a long-term wreck.

Rising out of a dusty patch of land in western Kabul, this longtime eyesore is being rebuilt – even as the country’s future remains uncertain. Among those working to restore the luster, long since vanquished is 23-year-engineer Fereshta Noori.

Educated at Smith College in the United States, Noori didn’t have to come back, but she did.

“If we don’t build our country, who is going to do that. And if we don’t return to Afghanistan we don’t have the right to complain about the situation. We have to fix it,” said Noori.

Noori represents what many hope will be the new Afghanistan—educated and a working woman.

In a country where men and women having tea in public is still taboo, Noori pushes for change.   

But at the same time, delicate on-again, off-again peace negotiations are making headlines with the Taliban taking a lead role.

What would happen if the Taliban gets another stronghold and is part of the government sharing plan?

Noori said she has her concerns.

“Because if they want to turn Afghanistan back to where it was when they had power, that’s definitely a big step back for woman.”


Former President Hamid Karzai is taking a lead role in fostering peace talks and bringing the Taliban to the table. He doesn’t think Noori should be concerned.

“We must also tell her that she should not be worried that you would stand by her, and that we will make sure that Afghanistan is what she envisions,” said Karzai.

For now, it’s enough to keep Noori keeps going. She is proud the work is 100% Afghan.

But Afghanistan remains dangerous – a war zone and international bids for reconstruction went through the roof.

Afghan officials said Russia wanted $71 million to the do the job Great Britain more than 30-million.

The U.S. wanted $100,000 a month for a project manager – the same job that pays Ahmad Jawid $400 a month.

“I am proud to work with women, shoulder to shoulder in Darulaman Palace.”

Despite all the problems, all the setbacks in Afghanistan Noori, and others working on Darulaman keep a “can do” attitude alive.

“You are not alive if you don’t have hope. If there is no hope, there is no moving forward. There is no feeling happy,” said Noori. “What is being alive without being happy and moving forward.”