From fleeing Taliban to 'best job in the world' contender

Life hasn't always been kind to 29-year-old Afghan Moska Najib, but she is now close to landing a dream job in Australia that will pay $100,000 for six months' work.

The daughter of former Afghan president Mohammad Najibullah, who was executed by the Taliban in 1996, has made it into the final 18 contenders of 620,000 entries in Tourism Australia's "best jobs in the world" competition.

Najib lives in India where she fled with her mother and sisters when her father's Soviet-backed regime collapsed and the mujahideen took over Kabul.

"My father was amazing. I was very close to him. He had an aura and exuded confidence. He was a brave man and made others around him feel brave," she told the Times of India in a recent interview.

Najib, who late last year quit a six-year career as a producer and reporter with the BBC to follow her passions of photography and filmmaking, told Fairfax Media from her home town of Delhi that she is firmly focused on Australia for the moment.

She will arrive here for a week next month with the other finalists from the US, England, France, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Taiwan and Belgium.

They will compete in a series of challenges to be picked for the six dream jobs, including chief funster (NSW), park ranger (Queensland), lifestyle photographer (Melbourne) tastemaster (Western Australia), outback adventurer (Northern Territory) and wildlife caretaker (South Australia).

Najib is in the running for the Melbourne-based lifestyle photographer job but she must win through the challenges that include writing a blog about her Australian travel experiences, creating a tourism video and fronting an impromptu media conference.

"Back in 2009, when Tourism Australia ran its first best job in the world campaign (it was won by Englishman Ben Southall), I was producing a story for the BBC and came across the competition in a news piece," Najib said.


"I wondered how amazing would it be to just apply and challenge oneself. I couldn't apply then due to work commitments but this time I decided to take the plunge and see where it takes me.

"I was on a photography trip in West Bengal when I came across the campaign on the internet. I had five days to put together my 30-second video application and give it a go."

She said she was surprised to be shortlisted in the competition.

"Initially I was just shocked because the chance of getting through out of over 600,000 applications is nominal – almost 0.025 per cent. Now that I've made it to the final round, I am thrilled and quite excited.

"I think you have to believe in yourself, focus on your strengths and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing."

Najib says she is looking forward to driving along the Great Ocean Road, walking in the Dandenong Ranges National Park and taking a ride on Puffing Billy.

She visited Australia in 2008 and says she likes the attitude of Aussies.

"They are sporty, laid-back and really know how to balance life. In today's world, there's a tendency to get caught up in the tasks of our day-to-day routine, the urgency of what's next and distractions of life. From my experience of visiting Australia in 2008, I feel people know how to pause and enjoy the moment. That's a very rare quality to find in big cities and communities."

Najib left Afghanistan when she was eight.

"I was quite young when I left home but I have the fondest memories of Afghanistan and growing up there – like the park I played in, the friends I had, the school I went to, the local ice-cream, the fresh air and the warmth of being in your own country. I play these memories like a film in my mind – a film I rewind quite often to replay over and over again."

The winners of Tourism Australia's six dream jobs will be announced on June 21.