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Jalalabad White House

Naqib Ahmad Atal
The opulent Nangargar replica of the US White House has critics divided in Jalalabad.
21.11.2014  |  Nangarhar Province

If senior US officials in the White House are worried about their legacy in Afghanistan, one US landmark at least, albeit a replica, has become a permanent feature of the Afghan landscape.

A money changer in Jalalabad has spent 5 million US dollars to build what he calls the 'Afghan White House'. The four-floored building in Nangarhar's capital Jalalabad has 34 rooms and is built on 2 and a half acres of land. It's white dome bares more resemblenace to Capitol Hill than the White House, but the owner isn't getting bogged down in the details.

"I and my father Haji Abdul Rahman Hadawal, wanted to send a message of peace to the world about this city’s stability and economic prosperity," says Zia ul-Rahman Assad, the man behind the project. While the building is a curious addition to Jalalabad's skyline, the owner says security at his copycat palace couldn't be more different than at its US counterpart. “There are no security guards around our house so anyone can come anytime to visit,” Assad told Afghanistan Today.

“The thought of the American White House brings fear and hatred to people’s minds, but we tried to change that by building this house so that when people see it, they have long-lasting and good memories," continues Assad. Dozens of people travel from all corners of the city to the newly-built 'monument' to see it. Assad says aside from Afghan visitors, he has even received curious foreign tourists. "We want people who visit the house to tell others that there is also a White House in Jalalabad, but it is not like the American one.” 

While some local residents take pride in having the famous building in their area, one of Assad’s neighbours says the businessman has invested his money in the wrong place: “Neither the owner nor the visitors will gain any benefits from this house. They just wasted their money,”  said the neighbour.