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Info4Migrants
IRANCountry profile
Project number: UK/13/LLP-LdV/TOI-615
2
1,648,195km2
77,176 mln
POPULATION
GDPper capita
CURRENCY
$4,763
Languages PERSIAN (official), Azeri,
Kurdish, Lurish, G...
COUNTRY BACKGROUND
Official name: Islamic republic of Iran
Location: Western Asia. Iran has borders with ten countries:
Ar...
IRAN FACTS
Language
The largest language group consists of the speakers of In-
do-Iranian languages, who in 1986 comprised...
IRAN FACTS
Iranian Politeness
Taarof is a system of politeness that includes both verbal
and non-verbal communication. Ira...
IRAN FACTS
Three Wise Men
The Medes were of Aryan origin and the first people to unify
Iran by the 6th century B.C. One of...
Lunar holidays
Muharram 9
Muharram 10
Safar 20
Safar 28
Safar 29 or 30
Rabi’-ul-Awwal 17
Jamaad-ath-Thaanee 3
Rajab 13
Raj...
• The word Iran means the Land of the Aryans.
• It snows in Tehran.
• The former name of Iran was Per¬sia, which was in us...
from Afghanistan or are Iraqi Kurds.
• Females over the age of nine must wear a hijab in public. “Bad hijab” ― exposure
of...
Tchogha Zanbil
This tourist attraction and historic site is
a ziggurat-shaped temple built under the
kingdom of Elam, c. 1...
DOS AND DON’TS
Dress
DO understand that women are expected
to wear loose clothing covering everything
but their hands, fac...
DO be patient. Decisions are made slowly and Iranians can be tough business-people.
They may get angry, storm out, or thre...
IMPORTANT TIPS
Dining Etiquette
If you are invited to an Iranian’s house:
• Check to see if the host is wearing shoes.
If ...
IRANIAN FOOD
Fesenjan (Pomegranate Walnut Stew)
This stew is an essential part of every Per-
sian wedding menu. At the rui...
Iranian culture is class-based, traditional and patriarchal. Tradition for most
is rooted in religion, and class and patri...
IRAN AND ITS PEOPLE
Some groups living within Iranian borders do assert autonomy occasionally, however.
Chief among these ...
SOCIETY AND CULTURE
Islam and Shi’ism
Islam is practised by the majority of Iranians, and it governs their personal, polit...
SOCIAL TRADITIONS
Food preparation is a major part of any get togeth-
er, and there will be plenty of different dishes. Th...
FAMILY IN IRAN
Iran’s constitution dictates that women are mothers and homemakers. Female relatives
must be protected from...
CORPORATE CULTURE
Relationships & Communication
Who you know is often more important
than what you know, so it is importan...
BUSINESS ETIQUETTE
Iranians may display emotion, or even walk
out of the meeting, or threaten to termi-
nate the relations...
Veronica Gelfgren
Yulia Bazyukina
Marja-Liisa Helenius
Research
Research, layout
Proofreading
www.thelanguagemenu.com
Lear...
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I4M Country profile iran (in english)

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I4M Country profile iran (in english)

  1. 1. Info4Migrants IRANCountry profile Project number: UK/13/LLP-LdV/TOI-615
  2. 2. 2 1,648,195km2 77,176 mln POPULATION GDPper capita CURRENCY $4,763 Languages PERSIAN (official), Azeri, Kurdish, Lurish, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Turkmen, Arabic, Baloch, Georgian, Armenian, Neo-Aramaic (spoken) Iranian rial (IRR) 2 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  3. 3. COUNTRY BACKGROUND Official name: Islamic republic of Iran Location: Western Asia. Iran has borders with ten countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq and Turkey. Capital: Tehran Religion: 89% Shia Muslims and 9% Sunni Muslims make up the 98% of the population, making Islam the dominant reli- gion. The rest of the population consists of people following Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and the Baha’i. Ethnicity: Persians (61%), followed by Azeri (16%), Kurd (10%), Lur (6%), Baloch (2%), Arab (2%), Turkmen and Turkic tribes (2%), and other (1%), make up the ethnic composition of Iran. Climate: Iran has a hot, dry climate characterized by long, hot, dry summers and short, cool winters. The climate is influenced by Iran’s location between the subtropical aridity of the Ara- bian desert areas and the subtropical humidity of the eastern Mediterranean area. National Flag National emblem IRAN Turkmenistan Iraq Saudi Arabia Afghanistan Tehran 3 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  4. 4. IRAN FACTS Language The largest language group consists of the speakers of In- do-Iranian languages, who in 1986 comprised about 70 percent of the population. The speakers of Indo-Iranian languages are not, however, a homogeneous group. They include speakers of Persian and its various dialects; speak- ers of Kirmanji, the term for related dialects spoken by the Kurds; speakers of Luri, the language of the Bakhtiaris and Lurs; and Baluchi, the language of the seminomadic people who live in Southeastern Iran. Approximately 28 percent of the population speaks various dialects of Turkish. Speakers of Semitic languages include Arabs and Assyrians. Zimbabwe Israel Indonesia Jordan Iran Ireland Italy Yemen Flag The current Iranian flag was adopted in 1980 and has three equal horizontal bands of green, white, and red. Green is the color of Islam and represents growth, white symbolizes honesty and peace, and red stands for bravery and martyrdom. Centered in the middle, the white band is the stylized representation of the word “Allah” and the phrase La ilaha illa Allah (“None is worthy of worship but Allah”) in the shape of a tulip. Along the inner edges of the green and red bands are 22 copies of the phrase Alla- hu Akbar (“God is great”). Persian cat The Persian cat is one of the world’s oldest breed of cats. The first documented ancestors of the Persian were imported into Western Europe from Persia around 1620. The cat has long silky fur to protect it from the cold in the high plateau regions of Iran. 4 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  5. 5. IRAN FACTS Iranian Politeness Taarof is a system of politeness that includes both verbal and non-verbal communication. Iranians protest compli- ments and attempt to appear vulnerable in public. They will belittle their own accomplishments in an attempt to appear humble, although other Iranians understand that this is merely courtesy and do not take the words at face value. In adherence to taarof, if you are offered something, like a tea or a sweet, even if you want it, you should at first decline it until their insistence becomes greater. Capital relocation With a population of around 8.3 million and surpass- ing 14 million in the wider metropolitan area, Tehran is Iran’s capital, largest city and urban area, and the largest city in Western Asia. A plan to move the capital due to the earthquake hazard has been discussed many times in previous years. In 2010, the government of Iran an- nounced that “for security and administrative reasons” the plan to move the capital from Tehran has been final- ized. There are plans to relocate 163 state firms to the provinces and several universities from Tehran. Public vs. Private Iranians see themselves as having two distinct identities: “zaher” (public) and “batin” (private). When they are in public, they must conform to accepted modes of behaviour. It is only within their homes among their inner circle that they feel free like they can be themselves. Family members are always part of the inner circle. The inner circle forms the basis of a person’s social and business network. Friendship is very important and extends into business. The people from the inner circle can be relied upon, to offer advice, help find a job, or cut through bureaucracy. 5 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  6. 6. IRAN FACTS Three Wise Men The Medes were of Aryan origin and the first people to unify Iran by the 6th century B.C. One of the tribes, the Magi, were powerful Zoroastrian priests. The most famous Magi are the Three Wise Men of the Christian Nativity story who brought gifts to the newborn Christ. The 13th century Italian explorer Marco Polo claimed to have visited the graves of the Three Wise Men in what is now Iran’s capital Tehran. Revolution Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979, when the monarchy was overthrown and clerics assumed political control under supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini. The Iranian revolution put an end to the rule of the Shah, who had alienated powerful religious, political and popular forces with a programme of modernization and Westernization cou- pled with heavy repression of dissent. Internet and censorship In the first decade of the 21st century, Iran experienced a great surge in Internet usage, and, with 20 million people on the Internet, currently has the second highest percentage of its population online in the Middle East, after Israel. When initially introduced, the Internet services provided by the gov- ernment within Iran were comparatively open. Many users saw the Internet as an easy way to get around Iran’s strict press laws. In recent years, Internet service providers have been told to block access to pornographic and anti-religion websites. The ban has also targeted such popular social networking sites as Facebook and YouTube, as well as news sites. 6 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  7. 7. Lunar holidays Muharram 9 Muharram 10 Safar 20 Safar 28 Safar 29 or 30 Rabi’-ul-Awwal 17 Jamaad-ath-Thaanee 3 Rajab 13 Rajab 27 Sha’aban 15 Ramadhan 21 Shawwal 1 Shawwal 2 Shawwal 25 Dh-ul-Hajja 10 Dh-ul-Hajja 18 PUBLIC HOLIDAYS National Holidays Nowrooz (New Year) Islamic Republic Day Nature Day Khomeini’s death Revolt of Khordad 15 Victory of the Iranian Revolution Nationalization of Oil Industry National holidays Tasu’a of Imam Hussain Ashura of Imam Hussain Arba’een of Imam Hussain Demise of prophet Muhammad and Martyrdom of Imam Hassan (Mujtaba) Martyrdom of Imam Reza Birth of Muhammad and Imam Jafar Martyrdom of Fatima Birth of Imam Ali Mission of Muhammad Birth of Imam Mahdi Martyrdom of Imam Ali Eid ul-Fitr (End of Ramadhan) Eid ul-Fitr (End of Ramadhan) Martyrdom of Imam Jafar Eid ul-Adha (Ghurban) Eid al-Ghadeer Persian calendar Farvardin Ordibehesht Khordad Tir Mordad Shahrivar Mehr Aban Azar Dey Bahman Esfand Islamic calendar Muharram Safar Rabi’ al-awwal Rabi’ al-thani Jumada al-awwal Jumada al-thani Rajab Sha’aban Ramadan Shawwal Dhu al-Qi’dah Dhu al-Hijjah Gregorian calendar (2015) October-November November - December December - January January-February February-March March - April April - May May - June June - July July - August August - September September - October Solar holidays Farvardin 1-4 Farvardin 12 Farvardin 13 Khordad 14 Khordad 15 Bahman 22 Esfand 29 Gregorian calendar March - April April - May May - June June - July July - August August - September September - October October - November November - December December - January January-February February-March The Islamic or Hijri calendar abbreviated as AH is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. The Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year consisting of 12 months in a year of 354 days. The Solar Hijri calendar, also called the Solar Hejri calendar, and abbreviated as SH, is the official calendar of Iran and Afghanistan. The determination of starting moment is more accurate than in the Gregorian calen- dar, because it uses astronomical observations rather than mathematical rules. 7 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  8. 8. • The word Iran means the Land of the Aryans. • It snows in Tehran. • The former name of Iran was Per¬sia, which was in use until 1935. • Iran ranks seventh among countries in the world as regards number of World Heritage Sites recog- nized by UNESCO. • Iran ranks second in the world in nat¬ural gas and third in oil reserves. • Iran’s Constitution and Parliament were created on August 5th, 1906. • Famous bib­li­cal peo­ple buried in Iran: Queen Esther, Daniel, Cyrus the Great, Dar­ ius the Great, St. Thaddeus. • Iran is one of the world’s old­est con­tin­u­ ous major civ­i­liza­tions, with his­tor­i­cal and urban set­tle­ments dat­ing back to 4000 BC. • In spite of fierce com­pe­ti­tion, Per­sian rugs are still the best rugs in the world. • The word mausoleum comes from the famous grave of King Mausolus. Iran’s Mau­soleum of Maus­sol­los was iden­ti­fied as one of the Seven Won­ders of the An- cient World. • Per­sian (Farsi) is still spo­ken in Tajikestan and Afghanistan. It was the offi­cial court lan­ guage of India for 200 years. • Sur­pris­ingly, Per­sia built the ear­li­est known wind­mills, which resem­bled large pad­dle wheels. Iran was pio­neer­ing wind energy long before any other nation real­ized the energy ben­e­fit of nat­ural energy powerhouse. • Iran provides home and social security for approximately a million foreign refu- gees – the biggest number in a single country in the world. Most of the refugees are INTERESTING FACTS 8 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  9. 9. from Afghanistan or are Iraqi Kurds. • Females over the age of nine must wear a hijab in public. “Bad hijab” ― exposure of any part of the body other than hands and face – can be subject to punishment of up to 70 lashes or 60 days imprisonment. • While homosexual relationships are banned in Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini decreed that transsex- uals are allowed to have sex change operations in Iran. Since 2008, Iran has conducted more sex change operations than any other country in the world, second only to Thailand. The government even provides financial assis- tance. • Iran is one of the world’s largest pro- ducers of caviar, pistachios, and saffron. • Short-term marriages are called Sigheh. These are permitted in certain Shia schools. These marriages last for an hour or several years depending on the contract. • Iranian households are forbidden to have satellite television • In Iran, men who do not marry stay with their natal family their entire life and are de- scribed as na-mard (not-men) • In Iran, yogurt is referred to as “Persian Milk” and many Iranians consider yogurt a miracle food. It is used to treat ulcers, relieve sunburn, and even prolong life. • Women are prohibited from watching sport matches. They resort to cross-dressing to watch the games. • The first day of spring in Iran is a festive day. Women prepare huge feasts and mothers eat hard-boiled eggs, one for each of their children. According to Persian ritual, the table is set with seven items, each beginning with the letter “s” in Persian: such as apples (sib), green grass (sabze), vinegar (serkey), berries (senjed), ground wheat (samanoo), a gold coin (sekke), and garlic (sir). INTERESTING FACTS 9 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  10. 10. Tchogha Zanbil This tourist attraction and historic site is a ziggurat-shaped temple built under the kingdom of Elam, c. 1250 B.C. It is sur- rounded by three huge walls and can be seen from far away. Millions of bricks have been used in the construction of this tem- ple. Persepolis It is the palace complex built under Darius the Great in 518 B.C. Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It was built on an immense half-artificial, half-nat- ural terrace, where the king of kings creat- ed an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian models. Bisotun This tourist attraction and historic site is the largest inscription of the world, con- sisting of 1119 lines of cuneiform in three languages. The rock relieves depict Darius the Great after an initial endeavor to arrest the rebels who had introduced themselves falsely as sons of Cyrus the Great. Pasargadae Pasargadae is the first example of Achae- menians’ palace compounds, as well as one of the first examples of Persian gar- den planning in Iranian history. Its palaces, gardens and the mausoleum of Cyrus are outstanding examples of the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture and exceptional testimonies of Persian civiliza- tion. Bam Kariz, an ancient Iranian underground water supplement system, known as qanat, made life possible in this oasis. Bam is situated in a desert environment on the southern edge of the Iranian high plateau. Soltaniyeh This masterpiece of architecture is a unique example of the Iranians’ precision in math- ematics and calculation in engineering. The mausoleum of Oljaytu was constructed in 1302–12 in the city of Soltaniyeh, the capital of the Ilkhanid dynasty, which was founded by the Mongols. Meidan-e-Emam Built by Shah Abbas I the Great at the be- ginning of the 17th century, and bordered on all sides by monumental buildings linked by a series of two-storey arcades, the site is known for the Royal Mosque, the Mosque of Sheykh Lotfollah, the magnificent Portico of Qaysariyyeh and the 15th-century Timu- rid palace. Shushtar Waterfalls These waterfalls are the masterpieces of engineering at the time of ancient Iranians. The entire collection includes waterfalls, dams, bridges, basins, mills, etc. Armenian Monastic Ensembles There are three monastic ensembles of the Armenian Christians living in the North West of present-day Iran: St Thaddeus, St Stepanos, and the Chapel of Dzordzor. ATTRACTIONS 10 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  11. 11. DOS AND DON’TS Dress DO understand that women are expected to wear loose clothing covering everything but their hands, face, and feet. Female travellers in Iran are also expected to abide by this dress code. In homes, western-style clothing is acceptable. DO wear pants and short-sleeved shirts if you are man. However, long-sleeves may protect you from the sun better. DO dress conservatively for business oc- casions. Ties are not traditionally worn by Iranian men but they are not looked down upon. Table Manners DO note that in some homes meals are served on the floor without utensils, but in more modern homes meals will be served on a table with a spoon and fork. DON’T sit until told where to sit. DON’T use your left hand while eating. DO try a little bit of everything and expect to be offered seconds and even thirds! DO understand that refusals are considered polite and not taken seriously, so if you don’t want more food you will likely have to insist. DO understand that restaurants will often have two sections: “family” and “men only.” “Family” is for women and their families. DO leave a little bit of food on your plate to indicate that you are done eating. DO note that alcohol is illegal under most circumstances. Gift Giving and Accepting Gifts DO wrap a gift nicely. DON’T open a gift immediately. DON’T give overly lavish gifts. Pens, art, home decor, or something from your home country are generally appreciated. Greetings DO understand that since conservative men and women do not socialize together, greetings are done only among members of the same sex. Because of this, wait for the member of the opposite sex to put their hand out for a handshake before shaking hands. DO shake hands upon greeting or greet with an affectionate kiss. DO greet by saying “salaam” which means hello. Visitors Etiquette DO bring flowers or desserts for your hosts. DO arrive on time. Lateness could be con- sidered rude. DO look to see if your host is wearing shoes. If they are not, take yours off before entering. DO accept food or drink. Business Meetings DO make appointments at least a month in advance and confirm a week before. DON’T be late! DO have all written business materials and business cards translated into Farsi. DON’T take your suit jacket off without permission. 11 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  12. 12. DO be patient. Decisions are made slowly and Iranians can be tough business-people. They may get angry, storm out, or threaten to end the business relationship in order to get their way. Negotiations might be quite long. DON’T be forceful or use pressure tactics. It may wind up working against you. Socializing and Conversation DON’T criticize Islam or the Iranian government. DO discuss soccer (football) because it is very popular in Iran. DO ask about family, but don’t be too intrusive. Religious Etiquette DO understand that in order to visit a mosque or holy shrine, women should wear a chador before entering. Chadors are sort of like cloaks. If you don’t have a chador, some- times there are kiosks where you can rent one. DO wear long-sleeved shirts when visiting a mosque or holy shrine if you are a man. DO remove your shoes before entering a prayer area of a mosque. DON’T take photos of a mosque while people are praying. DO ask before entering a room at a holy site, because some places forbid non-Muslims to enter. Good Topics of Conversation Iran, its language, culture and history Discussing family in general, in a non-intrusive way Food, especially the variety of local cuisine Sports, especially football is always a good topic Professionals will enjoy talking about their education and employment Avoid discussing Questions about Islam, unless they are very simple, inquisitive questions Contentious issues that may lead to heated discussion like the Revolution of 1979, Irani- an-US relations, and Israeli foreign and domestic policy Sex and roles of the sexes Personal questions, unless a very close relationship has been established. Also don’t divulge too much personal information about yourself Any negative comments about Iran regarding the leadership, infrastructure or people DOS AND DON’TS 12 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  13. 13. IMPORTANT TIPS Dining Etiquette If you are invited to an Iranian’s house: • Check to see if the host is wearing shoes. If not, remove yours at the door. • Dress conservatively. Dressing up formally and appropriately is also regarded as a sign of respect and people may get offended if their guests arrive in casual outfits and sneakers. • Try to arrive at the invited time. Punctual- ity is appreciated. • Show respect for the elders by greeting them first. • Check to see if your spouse is included in the invitation. Conservative Iranians do not entertain mixed-sex groups. • Expect to be shown into the guests’ room. It is usually lavishly furnished with Europe- an furniture. • Shake everyone’s hand individually. • Accept any offer of food or drink. Common Gestures • Raising your eyebrows means no. • Biting your lower lip with your upper teeth expresses disbelief or shame that someone did something. • Placing your hand over your heart (and slightly bowing your head down/looking down) expresses sincerity. • Biting your index finger or the web be- tween your thumb and index finger is sort of an anti-jinx. • In Iran, counting things off is done in two ways: by touching the finger to thumb, starting with the pinky, or by folding each finger down with your other hand, starting with the pinky, or by folding each finger down with your other hand, starting with the pinky. Gift Giving Etiquette • Iranians give gifts at various social oc- casions such as returning from a trip or if someone achieves a major success in their personal or business life. • On birthdays, businesspeople bring sweets and cakes to the office and do not expect to receive gifts. • If you are invited to an Iranian’s house, bring flowers, or pastry to the hosts. When giving a gift, always apologize for its inade- quacy. • Gifts should be elegantly wrapped - most shops will wrap them for you. • Gifts are not generally opened when re- ceived. In fact, they may be put on a table and not mentioned. 13 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  14. 14. IRANIAN FOOD Fesenjan (Pomegranate Walnut Stew) This stew is an essential part of every Per- sian wedding menu. At the ruins of Perse- polis, the ancient ritual capital of the Per- sian Empire, archaeologists found inscribed stone tablets from as far back as 515 B.C., which listed pantry staples of the early Ira- nians. They included walnuts, poultry and pomegranate preserves, the key ingredients in fesenjan. Bademjan (Eggplant And Tomato Stew) This stew has the shimmering red-gold col- or of tomatoes cooked with turmeric, with a sheen of oil on top. Like all Persian stews, bademjan is thick and meant to be eaten over rice with a fork. Zereshk Polo (Barberry Rice) Iranians love sour flavors. Like cranberries, barberries have a vibrant red color, but they are even more sour. This classic rice dish is studded with the red berries, which are dried and rehydrated before cooking. Gormeh Sabzi (Green Herb Stew) Made from herbs, kidney beans and lamb, deep green gormeh sabzi satisfies two Per- sian flavor obsessions: it is sour and full of herbs. Ash e Reshteh (Noodle and Bean Soup) A richly textured soup full of noodles, beans, herbs and leafy greens like spinach and beet leaves. It is topped with mint oil, crunchy fried onions and sour kashk, a fer- mented whey product eaten in the Middle East that tastes akin to sour yogurt. Tahdig (Crunchy Fried Rice) Tahdig is the soul food of Persian cooking. It is the crisp, golden layer of fried rice at the bottom of the rice pot, and it tastes like a combination of popcorn and potato chips, but with the delicate flavor of basmati rice. Jeweled Rice (with Nuts and Dried Fruit) Dotted with brightly colored dried fruit and nuts, like little jewels, this is a sweet-and- savory dish that shows off some of the na- tive ingredients of Iran, including pistachios, almonds, candied orange peel, barberries, carrots and saffron. Kebab (Lamb, Chicken, Ground Meat) Kebabs have more variety than you might think. First, there’s koobideh, ground meat seasoned with minced onion, salt and pepper. Chicken kebab, known as joojeh, is traditionally made from a whole chicken, bones and all, for more flavor, marinated in lemon and onion, and basted with saffron and butter. Sabzi Khordan (Herb and Cheese Plate) No Persian meal is complete without a dish of sabzi khordan, or edible herbs. The plate can include mint, tarragon, basil and cilan- tro, alongside scallions, radishes, walnuts, feta cheese and Iranian nan (flatbread). 14 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  15. 15. Iranian culture is class-based, traditional and patriarchal. Tradition for most is rooted in religion, and class and patriarchy have been constant features of Iranian society since ancient times. PEOPLE IN IRAN Body Language A downward gaze in Iran is a sign of re- spect. For men, downcast eyes are a de- fense measure, since staring at a woman is usually taken as a sign of interest, and can cause difficulties. On the other hand, staring directly into the eyes of a friend is a sign of affection and intimacy. Very conservative Muslims may avoid shaking hands or kissing unrelated indi- viduals of the opposite sex. At the same time, it is well accepted for individuals of the same sex to touch each other, wheth- er they are related or not. Meeting Etiquette • Introductions are generally restricted to members of the same sex since men and women socialize separately. • Greetings tend to be affectionate. Men kiss other men and women kiss other women at social events. If they meet on the street, a handshake is more common. • When Iranians greet each other, they take their time and converse about gener- al things. The most common greeting is “salaam alaykum” or more simply “salaam”. 15 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  16. 16. IRAN AND ITS PEOPLE Some groups living within Iranian borders do assert autonomy occasionally, however. Chief among these are the Kurds, living on Iran’s western border. Fiercely independent, they have pressed the Iranian central government to grant economic concessions and au- tonomous decision-making powers. However, outside of the urban areas in their region, the Kurds already have formidable control over their regions. Iranian central government officials tread very lightly in these areas. The Kurds in Iran, along with their brethren in Iraq and Turkey, have long desired an independent state. The immediate prospects for this are dim. The nomadic tribal groups in the southern and western regions of the Iranian central pla- teau have likewise caused problems for the Iranian central government. Because they are in movement with their sheep and goats for more than half of the year, they have histor- ically been difficult to control. They are also generally self-sufficient, and a small minority are even quite well-off. Attempts to settle these tribes in the past have met with violent action. At present, they entertain an uneasy peace with Iranian central authorities. The Arab population of the Southwestern trans-Zagros Gulf province of Khuzestan has entertained political aspirations of breaking away from Iran. These aspirations have been encouraged by Iraq and other Arab states. In times of conflict between Iran and Iraq, Iraqi leaders have supported this separatist movement as a way of antagonizing Iranian offi- cials. The severest social persecution in Iran has been directed at religious minorities. For cen- turies, periods of relative tolerance have alternated with periods of discrimination. Under the current Islamic republic, these minorities have had a difficult time. Although theoret- ically protected as “People of the Book” according to Islamic law, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians have faced accusations of spying for Western nations or for Israel. Islamic officials also take a dim view of their tolerance of alcohol consumption, and the relative freedom accorded to women. Iran has been somewhat blessed by an absence of specific ethnic conflict. This is noteworthy, given the large number of ethnic groups living within its borders, both today and in the past. It is safe to conclude that the general Iranian population neither persecutes ethnic minorities, nor openly discrimi- nates against them. 16 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  17. 17. SOCIETY AND CULTURE Islam and Shi’ism Islam is practised by the majority of Iranians, and it governs their personal, political, economic and legal lives. Iran is the only country of all Muslim countries that is officially a Shi’ite state. The others are considered as Sunni states. Contrary to the stereotype images of Muslim males in the media, most Iranian men do not have beards and if they do, it is not necessarily for religious reasons. Traditional vs Modern Iranians are very conscious about the way they dress and on the whole they dress well and dress codes are very important in distinguishing modern and traditional groups. Generally among the affluent, men and women are expect- ed to dress in expensive and fashionable clothes with expen- sive jewelry and accessories (mainly watches and rings for men) and to drive luxury cars. Among more modern people, females have no problems wearing heavy make-up, exposing body parts while in the company of males. Among more traditional people, female dress codes are modest and much more conser- vative, with darker colors and little make-up. In mixed gatherings of such groups, males and fe- males normally end up as clusters on their own if not segregated in the first place. However, in private, in all female gatherings even tradition- al Muslim women may dress freely or expose body parts. Iranians will not normally joke about each other’s wives or other related females, unless they are very close friends or related. If alcohol is served, males will normally serve the drinks and many wom- en, especially the older generation, do not consume alcohol. It is best to ask people if they drink alcohol before offering any to them – however, very strict religious people might be offended if you offer them alcohol. Usually such people either do not socialize with non-Muslims, or will make it clear before- hand that they do observe Islamic codes with respect to eating and drinking. 17 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  18. 18. SOCIAL TRADITIONS Food preparation is a major part of any get togeth- er, and there will be plenty of different dishes. The higher the status of the guests, the more elaborate the party. Guests are constantly served with some food items, tea or drinks, and the hostess – mainly the lady of the house (sometimes daughters too) – has the task of serving. She refuses to take no for an answer and insists that guests should have what they are offered. Respecting the elderly is another ancient practice that has survived. Traditionally, the elderly are re- spected, listened to and are treated accordingly. It is customary for all to stand up once they enter a room, the best seats are allocated to them and they are offered drinks and food before anyone else. The priority for females is marriage and childbear- ing. Due to economic necessity and with the phe- nomenal increase in the number of highly educated Iranian women, such culturally accepted norms are creating major problems for working mothers and challenging the status quo. So far, the solution for most appears to be reliance on family members such as grandparents to look after the children. Day-care centres are not generally trusted, and a nanny is pre- ferred if affordable. Male/female relationships seem to be a complicated matter for many Iranians. Educated and modern classes have little problems understanding the dynamics of such relation- ships and engaging in them. Both sexes respect and treat their partners as equals, and most have left behind medieval courting habits generations ago. However, traditional and less educated groups might have problems with western courting styles. Males belong- ing to such groups normally marry virgin women, and they can be controlling and expect obedience, and may not involve their wives in decision-making processes. Any socializing with the opposite sex might be regarded indecent and offensive. Dress codes are tightly observed and children are also controlled and expected to behave according to the com- munal codes, rather than following their own individual styles or western ones. 18 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  19. 19. FAMILY IN IRAN Iran’s constitution dictates that women are mothers and homemakers. Female relatives must be protected from outside influences and are taken care of at all times. It is inappro- priate to ask questions about an Iranian’s wife or other female relatives. If they want to work outside of the home, they need permission from the male head of the household. The government also segregates schools by gender, and at the university level, there are some subjects women are not allowed to study. On city buses, men and women sit apart, and a woman may not appear in public with a man unless it is her husband or family member. However, unlike women in Saudi Arabia, Iranian women can drive and vote. Polygamy is legal in Iran, and men can marry up to four wives. Once married, a girl can no longer go to high school. The marriage age of girls is currently 13, up from 9 years old after the Revolution. Boys may marry at 15, the legal age Iranians can vote. Polygyny is allowed, but not widely practiced, however, because Iranian officials in this century have followed the Islamic prescription that a man taking two wives must treat them with absolute equality. Women in polygynous marriages hold their husbands to this and will seek legal relief if they feel they are disadvantaged. Statistics are difficult to as- certain, but one recent study claims that only 1 percent of all marriages are polygynous. Divorce is less common in Iran than in the West. Families prefer to stay together even un- der difficult circumstances, since it is extremely difficult to disentangle the close network of interrelationships between the spouses’ two extended families. Children of a marriage belong to the father. After a divorce, men assume custody of boys over three years and girls over seven. Women have been known to renounce their divorce payment in exchange for custody of their children. There is no impediment to remarriage with another partner for either men or women. In Iran, the family is the basis of the social structure. The concept of family is more private than in many other cultures. Iranians take their family responsibili- ties quite seriously. Families tend to be small, only 1 or 2 children, but the extend- ed family is quite close. The individual derives a social network and assistance in times of need from the family. Elderly relatives are kept at home, not placed in a nursing home. Loyalty to the family comes before other social relationships, even business. Nepotism is considered a good thing, since it implies that employing people one knows and trusts is of primary importance. 19 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  20. 20. CORPORATE CULTURE Relationships & Communication Who you know is often more important than what you know, so it is important to network and cultivate a number of con- tacts. Expect to be offered tea whenever you meet someone, as this demonstrates hospi- tality. Since Iranians judge people on appearanc- es, dress appropriately and stay in a high standard hotel. Business Meeting Etiquette It is a good idea to avoid scheduling meet- ings during Ramazan (Ramadan), as the need to fast would preclude your business colleagues from offering you hospitality. Arrive at meetings on time, since punctu- ality is seen as a virtue. The first meeting with an Iranian company is generally not business-focused. Expect your colleagues to spend time getting to know you as a person over tea and snacks. Be patient, as meet- ings are frequently interrupted. Do not remove your suit jacket without per- mission. Do not look at your watch or try to rush the meeting. If you appear fixated on the amount of time the meeting is taking, you will not be trusted. Business Negotiating It takes time for Iranians to warm up to- wards foreign business people. Until then, they may appear somewhat stiff and for- mal. Personal relationships form the basis of business dealings. Decisions are made slowly. Iranians are deliberate negotiators who can drive a hard bargain. Do not use high-pressure tactics. They will work against you. Iranians prefer to do business with those they know and re- spect, therefore they expect to spend time cultivating a per- sonal relationship before busi- ness is conducted. 20 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  21. 21. BUSINESS ETIQUETTE Iranians may display emotion, or even walk out of the meeting, or threaten to termi- nate the relationship in an attempt to con- vince you to change your position. Iranians often use time as a negotiating tactic, especially if they know that you have a deadline. Be cautious about letting your business colleagues know that you are un- der time pressure. Companies are hierarchical. Decisions are made at the top of the company, either by one person or a small council. Titles Address your Iranian business associates by their title and their surname. The title “doktor” is used for both M.D.s and Ph.D.s. Engineers are called “mohan dis”. The title “agha” (sir) is used when ad- dressing men. The title “khanoom” (mad- am) is used when addressing women. Wait to be invited before starting to use first names. Only close friends and family use this informal form. Dress Etiquette Business attire is formal and conservative. Men should wear dark colored conservative business suits. Ties are not worn by Iranians but it is per- fectly acceptable for you to do so. Dress well to make a good impression. Women should always dress modestly and cover their hair. 21 Country profile IRANLearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  22. 22. Veronica Gelfgren Yulia Bazyukina Marja-Liisa Helenius Research Research, layout Proofreading www.thelanguagemenu.com Learnmera Oy

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