Arts & Entertainment

The private collector who rescued Afghanistan’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai

By Omnia Al Desoukie

Dubai, UAE, Oct 22 (EFE).- Mohamed Omer Rahimy, a 63-year-old Afghan refugee who has lived in Austria since 1976, packed up his luggage with over 300 artefacts from his private collection and headed to Dubai to rescue his country’s pavilion at Expo 2020, which had stood empty for days due to the crisis unfolding in his home country.

The former Afghan government was supposed to be in charge of the country’s showcase at the world fair, but the project fell through when the Taliban seized power on August 15.

The country’s pavilion space remained deserted and closed for almost two weeks after Expo 2020 was opened on October 1 until Rahimy, along with his two sons and brother, arrived with hundreds of artefacts from their private collection. They did so on their own initiative, without any official help.

“Regimes come and go. I’m not involved in politics, but I care about my culture and my people,” Rahimy told Efe at the pavilion, which was designed by his brother and commissioned by his son.

“I want the situation in Afghanistan to change, I want peace for the next generations and I want the world to help Afghanistan,” he added.

Rahimy is an avid collector of artefacts, not just from Afghanistan but from around the world.

In 2019, he organized an exhibition on the Silk Road in Vienna, where he displayed more than 700 objects that told a story of the ancient trade route.

He inherited his passion from his father and learned from him that collecting antiques was a way to preserve cultural heritage.

At the Afghan pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, Rahimy has displayed pieces ranging from the 12th to the 20th century, including shawls, wedding outfits, bronze daggers, jade relics and ceramics.

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