Iran celebrates 33rd anniversary of Islamic revolution
With more than 5,000 years of continuous history, Iranian society has a rich set of cultures and traditions that very few other societies can claim.
Recent discoveries indicate that, centuries before the rise of the earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia, humans already inhabited Iran. But the written history of Iran dates back to 3200 B.C. It begins with the early Achaemenids, the dynasty under which the first Iranian world empire blossomed.
Cyrus the Great was the founder of the empire and he was the first to establish a charter of human rights. In this period Iran stretched from the Aegean coast of Asia Minor to Afghanistan, as well as south to Egypt. The Achaeamenid Empire was overthrown by Alexander of Macedonia in 330 B.C. and was followed by the Seleucid Greek dynasty.
After the Seleucids, we witnessed about a dozen successive dynasties reigning over the country, such as the Parthian, Sassanid, Samanid, Ghaznavid, Safavid, Zand, Afsharid, Qajar and Pahlavi.
The growing corruption of the Qajar monarchy led to a constitutional revolution in 1905-‘06. The Constitutional Revolution marked the end of the medieval period in Iran. During World Wars I and II the occupation of Iran by Russian and British troops was a severe blow to the government.
The Iranian nation toppled the U.S.-backed Pahlavi regime 33 years ago, ending the 2,500 years of monarchical rule in the country. The Islamic Revolution, under the guidance of the late Imam Khomeini, established a new political system based on Islamic values and democracy.
After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, a referendum on creating an Islamic Republic was held in Iran on March 30 and 31, 1979.
Imam Khomeini was the Supreme Leader of the revolution and led the Islamic Republic until his death. When Imam Khomeini passed away on June 3, 1989 Ayatollah Khamenei was elected as the Leader of Iran by the Assembly of Experts and he continued to guide the Iranian people toward the same Islamic goals along the same Islamic path.
Because of its Islamic doctrine, the Islamic Republic of Iran attained political sovereignty and got rid of imposed policies and foreign interference in its domestic affairs. The Islamic Revolution created political awareness in the Iranian people, while under the dictatorial regime of the Shah Iranians could not take part in deciding their fate. Holding elections on time and showing respect to public votes is another major achievement of the Islamic Republic in the field of democracy. During the last 30 years more than 30 elections have been held in Iran including presidential and parliamentary as well as municipal elections. Today, everybody acknowledges Iran’s role in regional and global peace and stability, a matter which has become an increasing concern for its enemies. The Islamic Republic of Iran, though facing many challenges from the very beginning, has made great progress in various economic, political, social, scientific and cultural fields.
Despite its huge economy and central position in the world oil and gas market, Iran has not been able to attract sufficiently large investments.
However, statistics reveal why Iran would be a compelling destination for investment. In purchasing power parity-adjusted terms, the IMF estimated that Iran had a GDP in 2011 of some $888.355 billion, making it the world’s 17th largest economy. The country managed to shrug off most of the effects of the global economic crisis, with annual growth managing to stay above 2 percent. Prior to this period growth came in at a healthy yearly average of 5.6 percent from 2005 until 2009.
Iran has also conducted one of the most effective and wide-ranging privatization efforts seen in the region in recent years. The privatization program, which was accelerated in 2006 and backed by a decree from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, aimed to cede 80 percent of the government’s shares in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in all sectors except for the upstream oil and gas sector and the defense industry to private sector players, and shrink the state’s share of the economy from 65 percent to 20 percent. In 2010, more than 300 SOEs were announced for privatization, including petrochemical companies, refineries, power plants, air carriers, banks, insurance companies, car manufacturers, mines, and agri-food industrial complexes. The Iranian Privatization Organization has been put in charge of the sell-off process, and has used a blend of block stake sales and IPOs on the Tehran Stock Exchange.
Encouraging more foreign investment is also seen as a core part of the economic reform process. The Iranian government sees foreign investment both as a mechanism of financing development and as a means of technology and knowledge transfer. Further steps were taken to facilitate foreign investment into the country in 2010, the most important of these being the removal of the three-year lockup on invested capital, and the provision of Central Bank guarantees for access to hard currency for the repatriation of funds. With these regulations, the country aims to further increase foreign investment, which reached $11.5 billion in 2010. Iran has also arranged a series of generous “tax holidays” for private foreign investors who engage in activities considered a high priority for economic advancement.
Foreign direct investment is important for Iran to reach these targets and many incentives are offered, including guarantees of capital and profit transfer, and providing the required utilities and the needed infrastructure for industrial and commercial operations through special economic zones and ports. Two of the most important zones for the production of petrochemicals in Iran are currently Bandar Imam’s Petrochemical Zone (Petzone) and Assaluyeh’s Pars Special Energy Economic Zone (PSEEZ). These zones provide investors with cheap feedstock and a highly trained workforce, as well as proximity to other producers and a sizable domestic market of consumers that facilitates improved coordination in the sector.
The Iranian economy is being developed in broad terms using the “Vision 2025” plan and through five-year development plans. These plans will continue economic reform, by sustaining efforts at privatizing SOEs and broadening the country’s economic base. The government is also increasing its research budget to 3 percent of GDP and encouraging a more active collaboration between businesses and universities.
With its many natural and human assets, Iran has every reason to look to the future with hope. For the first-time visitor to Iran, the country is able to demonstrate not only the progress it has made, but also the cultural treasures it has preserved.
South Pars Gas Field
As the world looks to alternative sources of energy, natural gas has fast risen up the ranks as the fuel of choice. Once “flared off” as an unrecoverable by-product of oil extraction, natural gas and the technology to transport and export it have become the focus of global attention. The development of Iran’s South Pars field as one of the main centers of natural gas extraction internationally is being closely followed. The South Pars/North Dome field is the world’s largest known gas field, holding an estimated 51 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and 50 billion barrels of condensates. The field, located in the Persian Gulf, covers an area of 9,700 square kilometers and is shared by Iran and Qatar. The territorial waters of Iran in the South Pars region cover some 3,700 square kilometers, estimated to contain 14 trillion cubic meters of gas, making up 36 percent of Iran’s estimated reserves and 6 percent of the world’s total proven gas reserves. This easily ranks Iran as holding the second largest natural gas reserves in the world, following hot on the heels of Russia.
The South Pars region is estimated to hold 18 billion barrels of condensates, of which some 9 billion barrels are believed to be recoverable. However, as the field is shared by Iran and Qatar, estimated figures can vary as the gas underground is considered to have a tendency to migrate. This migration tendency has set up a race between Qatar and Iran to accelerate their production activities so that they do not lose the natural gas estimated to lie beneath their territorial waters.
The National Iranian Oil Company discovered the field in 1990 and its subsidiary, Pars Oil and Gas Company, is in charge of the development phases for the South Pars project. Iran aims to develop the field in 24 to 30 phases. Each phase is estimated to have an average capital expenditure of around $1.5 billion.
Tourist attractions of Iran
Due to its historical background and sustainable social and cultural evolution, Iran has a lot of diverse interesting sites that satisfy tourists with different tastes. Every tourist, whatever his or her incentive, may find many spectacular places to suit those individual tastes. It should not be forgotten that the best way for the recognition of every country is direct contact with its people.
Iranians are famous for their hospitality, compassion, and generosity. It is easily possible to visit Iranians' homes, being slightly acquainted with them and become familiar with their lifestyles, attitudes, livelihoods, and many of their characteristics.
The ancient Iranian culture is reflected in a rich historical and architectural heritage with many sites worth visiting.
Persepolis and Pasargadae in Shiraz and extraordinary relics of Isfahan are the hallmarks of Iranian architecture which impress any tourist from any part of the world.
Shiraz is a city of historic monuments, poets, philosophers, warriors and kings, orchards, roses and fragrant blossoms in the southern part of Iran
The World Tourism Organization (WTO) is assisting Iran in embarking on a Tourism Development Master Plan, an ambitious 20-year outline to attract 1.5 percent of the world’s total tourists, about 20 million international tourists annually.
This is not at all an unrealistic goal considering that UNESCO ranks Iran seventh in the world in terms of possessing historical monuments, museums and other cultural attractions.