Afghan cafe puts freedom back on the menu

1 / 3
For young people in Helmand who want  to relax and enjoy their evenings and get a respite from the pressures of war,  Ayenak Restaurant and Cafe is the place to go. (AN photo)
2 / 3
For young people in Helmand who want  to relax and enjoy their evenings and get a respite from the pressures of war,  Ayenak Restaurant and Cafe is the place to go. (AN photo)
3 / 3
For young people in Helmand who want  to relax and enjoy their evenings and get a respite from the pressures of war,  Ayenak Restaurant and Cafe is the place to go. (AN photo)
Updated 09 September 2018
0

Afghan cafe puts freedom back on the menu

  • A small cafe in Afghanistan’s Helmand province has brought back a way of life cherished by many young Afghans
  • Afghanistan’s Helmand province, once described as “Little America,” now struggles with the effects of the opium trade and Taliban attacks on foreign forces

HELMAND: Afghanistan’s Helmand province, long notorious for its security challenges, is one of the most dangerous places for foreign forces operating in the country.

The area is also known for its opium trade and has a reputation as a Taliban stronghold. Even today, residents live in a state of perpetual fear since the extremist forces have yet to be fully defeated.

Nevertheless, there is an urge among Helmand’s youth to live and enjoy life. In a socially conservative culture that has left people starved for entertainment, many have discovered the magic of Ayenak Restaurant and Cafe in Nawa district.

The cafe and restaurant were designed for young people who want to forget war, relax and enjoy their evenings at a venue surrounded by a beautiful landscape with the added option of swimming in the river or visiting gardens laden with fruit.

The breathtaking beauty of the place draws visitors from across Helmand and Kandahar. Most come with friends to unwind. The restaurant also offers guests Afghan food, tea, coffee, juices and shisha.

“Our cafe can accommodate about 400 guests at one time. It has a huge yard, cabins and places for people to sit outside,” said Abdul Shakur Alham, the 26-year-old owner of the outlet.

However, Ayenak cafe is not only a tourist attraction but also a symbol of defiance. While many outlets in the main cities offer flavored tobacco and shisha openly, this is the only shop providing the service in an insecure, Taliban-dominated area.

The militant group believes that tobacco is forbidden and followers should avoid such guilty pleasures. Another pastime that can easily offend a Taliban commander is the use of playing cards. Yet the cafe continues to offer these facilities even though the area remains within reach of the militant group.

“Everything is natural in this cafe,” said 23-year-old Abdul Hai Mutmaen. “I like all of it, but shisha is something new for us in this area. I enjoy it a lot.”

Mirwais Bosti, 24, a visitor from neighboring Kandahar, said: “We have many cafes in Kandahar city, but they do not have such lovely weather and picturesque landscape.”

In the 1950s, Helmand was known among Afghans as “Little America.” At the time US engineers and experts worked there to transform the valley along the Helmand River into a modern society. Irrigation canals were built to feed farms that produced large quantities of food for export, helping Afghanistan to earn substantial revenues. New schools, modern hospitals and recreation centers were built and factories were powered by electricity produced at the Kajaki dam.

Model towns emerged in the area with streets lined with trees, and boys and girls went to community pools together. It was not difficult to find clubhouses along the river where one could play cards and consume drinks.

Helmand’s reputation changed after the Soviet invasion when it became a dangerous location for Russians and Afghan communists. More recently, it has also proved deadly to NATO and US forces. However, after decades of death and destruction, the province’s residents want peace and a happy life.

“I invested $13,000 to build this place,” said Shakur. “I’m happy that I’m making a good income from it.”


The Six: Arab gowns on the Emmys red carpet

Updated 18 September 2018
0

The Six: Arab gowns on the Emmys red carpet

  • Hollywood stars took to the red carpet in Arab Designers
  • Stars wearing a host of designs by the region’s fashion heavyweights

DUBAI: The Emmys red carpet turned into a veritable catwalk for Middle Eastern designers on Monday night, with stars wearing a host of designs by the region’s fashion heavyweights.


Tina Fey

Fey glowed in a floral, lace and velvet gown by Elie Saab, part of his autumn/winter 2018 pret-a-porter collection. The gown featured pleats and a fitted waist in colors perfect for the cold season.


Yvonne Orji

Orji stunned in this black, fitted, velvet gown from Georges Chakra’s fall 2017 collection. With simple detailing and a tailored cut, the dress is flattering and feminine.


Kristin Cavallari

Cavallari wore a couture Maison Yeya Fall 2018 black dress. Simple but sophisticated with its different layers and hemlines, this sculptural off-the-shoulder look is a piece of art.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

That gold carpet at The Emmys

A post shared by Kristin Cavallari (@kristincavallari) on


Chrissy Tiegen

Tiegen sparkled in a Zuhair Murad fall 2018 couture gown. With geometric antique silver motifs and long sleeves, the gown sparkled in all directions.


Keri Russell

Russell wore a Zuhair Murad two-piece outfit, a pleated skirt and peplum jacket. It had structured shoulders, feathers, a high slit and fitted midsection to accentuate her figure.


Sydney Sweeney

Sweeney radiated glamor wearing this feminine and delicate pale pink Reem Acra pre-fall 2018 strapless gown. The dress featured a beaded waist and sweetheart neckline.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Actress @Sydney_Sweeney wears #ReemAcraPreFall18 to the 2018 #Emmys.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #ReemAcra #SydneySweeney

A post shared by REEM ACRA (@reemacra) on