The Taliban has unveiled the first ever supercar designed and made in Afghanistan.
The aggressive and sleek-looking Mada 9 prototype sports car is the culmination of five years of design and development led by 30 engineers at manufacturer ENTOP and Kabul's Afghanistan Technical Vocational Institute (ATVI).
Its capabilities on the road remain to be seen - the vehicle is immobile in almost all footage circulating on social media, and ENTOP has not released any performance data whatsoever.
It's unlikely to compete with the likes of Bugatti and McLaren, as the team behind the Mada 9 claim its engine is a relatively pedestrian Toyota Corolla hatchback.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid proudly posted pictures of the car on social media and said its construction was an "honor" for the entire country.
"I want to thank the Ministry of Vocational Education, valuable services have been provided to the country under their roof," he wrote on Twitter.
In one clip, the coupe glides gently down a snowy road with a pleasantly throaty roar from its exhaust, much to the delight of keen onlookers, suggesting the Mada 9 is at least a step ahead of most other prototype cars. Ghulam Haidar Shahamat, head of
ATVI, told Afghanistan's TOLO News that the Toyota Corolla's engine has been modified so that "when the speed increases, it is powerful enough to continue," but stressed that ENTOP plans to install the electric transmission Mada 9. later.
Abdul Baqi Haqqani, the Taliban's minister of higher education, gave an impassioned speech at the car's unveiling at ENTOP headquarters, praising Afghanistan's scientific values and saying the car was proof of the regime's commitment to "providing its religion and modern sciences. people."
Meanwhile, ENTOP CEO Mohammad Riza Ahmadi told TOLO News that he hopes the supercar will "transmit the value of knowledge to people" and help boost Afghanistan's image on the world stage.
"It will start its journey from Afghanistan and one day it might go international," he told a TOLO News reporter.
Ahmad's tweet on New Year's Eve read: "I am very grateful to God that I completed the first car of Afghanistan.
"I want to thank the great national businessmen and the dear people of Afghanistan who stood by me during this time. "
TOLO News reported that the prototype will soon be complete and claimed 'efforts are underway to display the car at international exhibitions'.
News of the supercar was widely praised in Afghanistan, with social media users eagerly sharing images of the vehicle, claiming it was proof of the country's scientific and technological prowess.
But many other users pointed out that the supercar was introduced at a time when Afghanistan is struggling with one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, while the Taliban have deprived women of their rights to study and work in the country.
The Taliban "promised through their representatives that women's education and women workers will not be banned," said Jan Egeland, secretary general of the independent Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
"It is clear that the Taliban government has deceived us. It is clear that they are now preventing our work," he said on Monday.
The NRC has almost 500 female employees working in areas such as food security, education, legal aid, water supply and sanitation in remote areas of Afghanistan.
Women in Afghanistan for relief operations crucial, especially in identifying other women who need help but are no longer able to fulfill their duties.
According to international aid organizations, a large part of Afghanistan's 38 million people are hungry, and three million children are at risk of malnutrition. In August 2021,
hard-line Islamists seized power, promising a milder version of their brutal 1996-2001 rule, which was notorious for human rights abuses.
But in recent months they have rapidly excluded women from almost all areas of public life, denying them secondary and tertiary education, public sector work and access to parks and spas.
Egeland said several senior Taliban officials objected to the regulations and acknowledged that many sent their daughters to NGO-run schools before the war ended.
"I heard that there are many discussions going on in the Taliban... There's an internal struggle and it seems the wrong group is in power now," he said.
Government officials say the ban was imposed because women did not follow the Taliban's hijab rules, which aid workers deny.
No country has yet. officially recognized the Taliban government, and Afghanistan has only a handful of countries.