The day Taliban soldiers fled this capital, Sabir Latifa had $9,000 in savings from his dried fruit exports and a head filled with ideas about how to do business in a changed Afghanistan.
He started small by fixing up some guesthouses for the journalists and aid workers who flocked to Kabul when the Taliban left in November 2001. Then he branched into cars and a hotel and the capital’s first private Internet cafe. Fifteen months later, Latifa has a business empire he says is worth $500,000, and he hopes to build a water bottling plant, more hotels outside Kabul, a computer store and even a chain of Internet cafes around the country.
this is heartening too –
In a city that had a handful of shopworn eating places two years ago, a new Chinese or Italian or American hamburger restaurant opens almost weekly, as well as kebab shops by the score. Small hotels have sprung up, and a $40 million Hyatt is on the way. The food bazaars are bustling and there are downtown blocks filled almost entirely with bridal shops. Rebuilt homes are rising from the ruins, and every little storefront seems to be stuffed with bathtubs or fans or with men building and carving things to be sold.
And this was really cool –
Shair Bar Hakemy, the business adviser to Karzai and himself a refugee turned entrepreneur who made a fortune in Texas commercial real estate and hotels, said that the price of real estate in some parts of Kabul is now higher per square foot than in downtown Dallas. “My family and friends back in America have difficulty seeing past all the headlines about troubles here,” he said. “But the truth is that Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan are changing quickly for the better.”