Project Management Institute

A Nation's Pride

An All-Afghan Team Is Restoring A War-Torn Palace

“People will see us rebuilding it, and they will get hopeful about the future of Afghanistan.”

—Masouma Delijam, senior architect, to The New York Times

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TOP PHOTO BY AURORA PHOTOS / ALAMY STOCK

The Darul Aman Palace stands in defiance of Afghanistan's decades of war—barely. Pockmarked by fire, shellings and bullet holes, the battered structure is a symbol of survival. Now, an all-Afghan project team hopes to revive it. “Today, we witness returning to the past while building a foundation for the future,” President Ashraf Ghani said while inaugurating the reconstruction in 2016.

The project to restore the palace, which stands 107 feet (32.6 meters) high, began simply enough: clearing out 600 tons of debris, including bullet and artillery casings. A foreign company bid US$1 million for the cleanup work, but the Afghan team was able to complete it for US$30,000.

Before destruction, circa 1930s

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The Afghans-only approach hasn't been without challenges, though. Administrative errors delayed workers’ pay at one point, and the project is also a year behind schedule—potentially complicating the ability to open the structure for the country's centennial anniversary of gaining independence from Britain in 1919.

Yet a sense of pride in doing the work without international assistance persists, Masouma Delijam, a senior architect on the project, told The New York Times: “It is so good that we have been able to find the capacity in ourselves for this.”

PROJECT: Darul Aman Palace restoration

LOCATION: Kabul, Afghanistan

ESTIMATED COMPLETION YEAR: 2019

BUDGET: US$20 million

NUMBER OF BULLET HOLES: In the millions (rough estimate)

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