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Dubai: In modern Arab city, Afghan consulate stands apart

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A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Hidden among Dubai’s elaborate high rises, indoor ski slopes, and a seven-star hotel, the Afghan Consulate occupies a tiny corner of the city. While the official consular building is a nondescript British colonial-style home, the visa processing office that stands alongside it seems designed to remind applicants that they’re entering a place that is arguably the anti-Dubai.

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To enter the visa office, applicants pass through a side gate that leads to two tin-roofed, one-story, stucco additions. Inside, nearly half the fluorescent lights are burned out, the rest flicker. Stains cover the beige walls.

Dubai is often ripe with contrasts like these. The wealthy Arabian Gulf city-state has become a hub for travel to many off-the-beaten path locations, with airlines offering direct flights to places such as Mogadishu, Somalia. As it continues its unprecedented growth, many side streets will undoubtedly continue to offer places like the Afghan Consulate that stand out in a city with an ultrapolished facade.