/ Visa for Iran

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Alan Breck on 21 Feb 2013
Seriously I'm not thinking of popping off to Iran on my own & going for a wander but I might, sadly, think of going on something organised (SHOCK...HORROR) Some of the costs I can get but it's proving difficult to track down the costs & requirements of getting a Visa.

Anyone got any practical idea of the current costs & requirements. E.g. Would I have to go to Dublin in person?
Big Lee - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck:

Maybe do a search on the Lonely planet forum. I'm sure there is a regular running post on Iranian visas.

I incidentally travelled independently around Iran back in 2004. It's actually a very safe country so don't feel you need to go on a tour just to be safe. Turkey or Egypt probably pose more of a threat to tourists than Iran.

I used Iranianvisa.com all those years ago to arrange a visa. You could pick up the visa at whichever Iranian embassy you specified. If you are on a tour then usually the tour agent in Iran would provide a letter of invitation to help with visa application.
Alan Breck on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Big Lee: Thanks. Already had a look at the Lonely Planet Iran Visa site but some of the information doesn't seem to be very up to date despite it showing that it was updated in January 2013!

The more sites that you look at the more that confusion reigns. E.g. Some say that you need to attend for an interview. Some say that you need to visit the embassy in person. Some say that you can get it (with the usual difficulties) by post.

From a search on here it looks as if there might have been climbing visits recently. That is after we "lost" our embassy there. So lokking for current info if poss.
Big Lee - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck:

You need to look at the LP forum rather than the general info on the various countries. Looks like there are loads of posts on getting visas.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forum.jspa?forumID=18

Just found this as well:

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/iran/travel-tips-and-articles/77506

BTW if you are an Irish passport holder then quite likely the visa rules might be different vs rules for British passport holders. Something to to do with the British government historically collaborating to overthrow the Iranian government in a coup or something...
pawelx - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck: went there in 2006 (or 2007, don't remember), super-safe country and the most friendly locals I have ever come across. A friend took my passport to the Iranian embassy & collected 2 weeks later with a visa. It wasn't a UK passport though.
Alan Breck on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Big Lee: Yep I've studied the Thorntree stuff but it doesn't help much on the current logistics of applying for a visa for a UK traveller. Also carefully viewed the travel tips.....thanks though for the thoughts.
Henry Iddon - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck:

I was there in 2011 - went to Iranian Consulate to sort the visa - brief interview / photos and finger prints. We went to ski Mt Damavand and had a contact at teh Iranian Mountaineering Fed/ who were our contact / sponsor on the visa application.

I believe things have since changed - there are brokers who I believe can arrange visas.

As has been said the locals are super friendly, and it is a far more westernised place than you would imagine.

Pics of the skiing here - http://www.henryiddon.com/Ski-Iran
escostar - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck:


The visa process is somewhat complicated and even more so now because there is now no Iranian consulate in the UK, you'll have to pick up the visa en-route to Iran - Turkey is probably your best bet.

You need to find an agency that will apply on your behalf for an authorisation code from the Iranian Foreign Ministry. Along with this, code, your passport, around 100 and a few passport sized photos you'll be granted a visa for Iran. I used www.iranianvisa.com and was extremely pleased with the service, you'll have to check their website for how much they currently charge for the authorisation code.

As for Iran, no need for a guide or to join a tour, very safe country, incredibly beautiful and the hospitality unbelievable. Others that have visited Iran will agree I'm not exaggerating when I say people will literally walk up to you, have a chat and invite you back to stay for dinner. I've been all over the world but Iran is still my favourite :)



peas65 - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck:

Iran is an amazing friendly place, the visa was not easy to get back in 2008. We also used the same website quoted above to get a code, then you go, with the application form and photos and then queue up and hopefully you get your visa.
I would leave a few days just in case you dont get it on the first day as it was very busy when i got mine and i guess maybe more busy now the london embassy has closed.

Its worth all the effort.
cagm - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck:
Hi Alan, I participated in the International Rock Climbing Festival at Bisotun, Iran Oct 2012. At that time, though theoretically possible, none of the British passport holders were able to get a visa, despite being invited by the Iranian Mountaineering Federation. Likewise, the Iranians are unable to get British visas. Seems to be a tit for tat situation as a result of the economic sanctions. Worth persevering though as it is a great country.
Alan Breck on 21 Feb 2013
Thanks for the info folks. Looks like we might have to factor in a trip to Dublin (sorry but not Turkey) & cross rather a lot of fingers!!

Shame it's such a bummer as we've also heard that the people are great.
Talius Brute - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck:

Alan, I got mine last July and went last Sept. I went to Paris to get it, you have to go to the embassy in person. I paid a fair few euros to get the visa on the day as I didn't want to chance leaving my passport there for a few days, but it was overall very smooth - no problems.
David Rose - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck: Would you have wanted to go climbing in Bavaria during the Third Reich? Because I think you need seriously to consider why you want to visit a country which is run by one of the world's most brutal dictatorships, however superficially westernised some of its people may seem. And one where the British embassy has been attacked on several occasions, and where hikers have been jailed for long periods as "spies".
mrchewy - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to davidoldfart: I'm guessing you read the Daily Mail?
David Rose - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck: I don't follow. You don't think Iran is a brutal dictatorship, responsible for more executions than any country in the world other than China? That didn't crush its own "green movement" democratic opposition after its last rigged elections, with people murdered by Basij regime thugs in the street? That doesn't use rape and torture in its prisons as a matter of routine? That didn't sponsor the storming of the British embassy in Tehran 2011? Because believe me, the evidence for all this is not only to be found in the Daily Mail. Try Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International.
Big Lee - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to davidoldfart:

Well maybe read your history books and you'll realise that the US and British governments actually installed an unpopular Shah that was arguably every bit as brutal dictator as the current regime so we can hardly criticise. We ironically staged a coup to overthrow by far the closest thing to a democratically elected Iranian leader just to serve it's own foreign policy so maybe the blame lies partly with Western foreign policy?

Personally I wouldn't visit a country that built it's empire with slavery and the trade of opium but each to their own...
RCC - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to Big Lee:
> (In reply to davidoldfart)
>
> Well maybe read your history books and you'll realise that the US and British governments actually installed an unpopular Shah ....

What a bizarre argument! We don't have much choice about the historical actions of our government. We do have a choice about whether we give money to unpleasant theocratic governments. I would feel a bit queasy paying money for an Iranian visa after reading some of the Human Rights Watch publications.
Big Lee - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to RCC:

There lies the irony because whilst we criticise Iran for its human rights record we want to get into bed with China.
RCC - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to Big Lee:

> There lies the irony because whilst we criticise Iran for its human rights record we want to get into bed with China.

I wouldn't travel to China either. It is not hypocrisy to have personal standards that are different to those of our government.

sebastien - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck: My gf used a London based agency (can try to find back the name if you want) to sort it out. Worked like a treat (although being german may be easier than Brit). As for Iran, we spent 1 month touring it. Absolutly brilliant!!! Food, people, landscapes, history. Transport system (bus, train, plane) worked like a treat. Enjoy!
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John Roberts (JR) - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck:

send me a message on here i organised a trip in 2011, with Henry above.

The iranian consulate in Kensington is shut, but I believe you can go to the Oman embassy to get Iranian visas with a UK passport now. Either way you'll need an invite to make it all easier.
David Rose - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck: History is important. And of course it is true, the anti-Mossadeq coup led to the brutal dictatorship of our ally, the Shah. Equally, the defeat of Germany in WW1 and the terms of the Treaty of Versailles led to Hitler.

But accepting the past errors of British foreign policy does not excuse one from considering the monstrous abuses of human rights being committed in the present. So I repeat my original question. Would it have been ok to go climbing in Bavaria in the late 1930s? And is it ok to climb in Iran now? After all, Hitler liked mountaineers. He gave medals to the men who climbed the Eigerwand, one of whom, Heinrich Harrer, went on to hide his SS membership for decades. The rulers of Iran have kept the Demavend ski resort open.

My answer to both questions is an unequivocal "no". So I would not be looking for Iranian visas. Go somewhere else.
Big Lee - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to davidoldfart:

In all seriousness you do actually write for the Daily Mail don't you! I just Google'd your name and Daily Mail came up number 1 hit. I was going to write a constructive reply outlining how ludicrous it is to compare Iran to 1930s Nazi Germany but won't be bothering now...
David Rose - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck: I have never written anything for the Daily Mail in my life. So carry on ignoring the awkward issues. Be my guest.
MF2005 - on 22 Feb 2013
John Roberts (JR) - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to davidoldfart:

I wouldn't at all condone (or deny it occurs) any human rights abuse that goes on in Iran, however, there isn't a "Damavand Ski Resort" David, unless you consider a 3 day tour above 3000m in resort.

One of the best things about climbing (and to an extent sport in general) is that it has little in the way of political barriers, but can seed the change. Remember the important history of ping-pong diplomacy?
David Rose - on 22 Feb 2013
That's from the Mail on Sunday, which is quite separate editorially. But in any event, what newspaper one writes for or reads is quite irrelevant to the point at issue. That can be broken down into two parts. 1: whatever one thinks of ping pong diplomacy, are there some regimes (ie Nazi Germany) so egregiously bad that one ought not, morally, to climb in such countries? (My answer is yes.) 2: If so, does Iran fit that category? (In my view, yes again.) Anyone is free to take a different view. But do so on the merits, please, not on the basis that I have written articles arguing against Guantanamo, torture and other human rights abuses, and against secret courts and on other subjects in the Mail on Sunday. By the way, you will find I have written a great deal over the years on human rights questions, including several books. You may hate Associated Newspapers, but I am consistent on these matters. And I don't believe the odd British climbing team visiting is going to make any difference whatsoever to the dire plight of most Iranians, other than to supply the regime with a little much-needed foreign hard currency.
mrchewy - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to davidoldfart: Well there's a turn up for the books - you actually have dealings with Satan... sorry, The Mail. Fair enough, everyone has a right to sell their soul in return for forty pieces of silver.

"the dire plight of most Iranians"

Easy to bandy that four letter word 'most' about as if it's a quantifiable fact. Visiting Iran was an eye opener for me, it certainly wasn't the Iran I'd seen portrayed in the media. The government is not universally loved by the locals and more than one person asked us not judge them by what those in power do. You may not think that visiting Iran will ever make a difference but after being there, I happen to think it will.

To the OP - you'll love the place, in all seriousness, it's maybe my favourite place I've visited. No bartering either, there's a price tag on everything... boy did that make me happy!
Alan Breck on 22 Feb 2013
Woops.....can of worms. Each to his/her own I suppose. I'll not go into print on here about what I think of various governments & their human rights issues. I tend to judge by the people I meet. Naive I suppose.
John Roberts (JR) - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to davidoldfart:

I think you're conflating two issues there David to make your argument, I also have history with AP both in work and climbing, and whilst you write arguing honourably I personally take absolutely no relevance in the papers you write for. I'm equally consistent in my view that 1) no and so 2) irrelevant.

Whilst I would never boldly say we had an impact on diplomacy in Iran, the fact is that the odd British climbing teams going aren't on the average jolly and slipping under the radar. Most teams will chance interactions with very high profile sports people in Iran, or bureaucrats. We spent over a week living in the Olympic village, meeting, eating with and talking to the Iranian olympic teams. I doubt that's uncommon for incoming travellers.

We were there in Feb/Mar '11, a time of fairly explosive protest in the region, as you'll know. We witnessed the starts of riots in Mellat Park, interesting to see it for real and then in the Western press. Aside from human rights, there are also specific political agendas at play, and experience of the country does well to remove any assumptions and naivety.
Henry Iddon - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to John Roberts (JR):

Well said John.

The Iranians we met were delighted that people had made the effort to visit their country, and in many ways return to the west to dispel the propaganda that is often churned out by the western media. The 'Iranian on the Tehran Omnibus' is as removed from the politics of the place as most people in the UK are. - Blair WMD and rendition flights spring to mind.

The great think about international travel and sport is that it allows human interaction between 'ordinary' people.

davidoldfart: Out of interest where have you travelled to? I assume if sticking by your rules you've been nowhere.
ice.solo - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck:

irans a wonderfful country. been a bunch of times, wouldnt hesitate to go again tomorrow.

the media stuff is, quite simply, lies. its not perfect, nor paradise, and theres elements that dont sit well by many standards, but its no worse than thailand, turkey, india, eastern europe - in fact its much better in many ways. the food alone is worth going for.

i cant help for shit with your visa, but i wish i could as its well worth visiting.
i hope you get there, enjoy your stay - and return to help dispell the insane bullshit most people choose to believe about the place.
that fools with no understanding of the reality of iran decide to boycott going there is only to irans advantage.
off-duty - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to MF2005 and davidoldfart:

I know it's totally off-topic but that's an interesting article to link to particularly since the author is on this thread.

David - Given that the bill concerns only civil claims - don't you think it reasonable that the state should have some mechanism of defending itself against highly expensive civil claims which are otherwise impossible to defend because they would require the disclosure of sensitive material - eg informants details, specific information about exact remits of covert operations or intercept intelligence.

The current situation is that essentially the Govt/the UK has to roll over and pay up rather than disclose this information - regardless of how justified their actions may have been.
At least this way the cases can be argued in court.



duncan b - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to davidoldfart:
> That's from the Mail on Sunday, which is quite separate editorially.

Oh FFS!

> By the way, you will find I have written a great deal over the years on human rights questions, including several books.

and it would appear numerous articles criticising renewable energy policies as well as others suggesting global warming "stopped 16 years ago". http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2217286/Global-warming-stopped-16-years-ago-reveals-M...

I note in your updated article concerning global warming (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2261577/Global-warming-stopped-16-years-ago-Met-Office-repor... you either chose not to address the points made by the Met Office as to why your original article was misleading or misunderstood the points the Met Office spokesman was making (http://metofficenews.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/met-office-in-the-media-14-october-2012/ ).

On this basis alone, I can only assume your views on Iran are misinformed. Something I think other posters have already suggested.
off-duty - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to duncan b:

I'm not sure that disagreeing with someone on one subject makes all their views invalid - seems a bit ad hominem to me.
David Rose - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to duncan b: Last week Raj Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, also stated that temperatures have not risen for 17 years. I am not misinformed. It is also the case that although the two Mail titles are owned by the same company, they are quite separate. If you ever bothered to read them, you would also know that they are rather different in tone and approach. The MoS is much less ideological and liberal in outlook. However, this is not the place for a debate on these issues. The Pachauri interview is at the link here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nothing-off-limits-in-climate-debate/story-e6frg6n6-12265831121...
Damo on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to davidoldfart:
> (In reply to duncan b) Last week Raj Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, also stated that temperatures have not risen for 17 years. ... The Pachauri interview is at the link here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nothing-off-limits-in-climate-debate/story-e6frg6n6-12265831121...

Where Pachauri goes on to say what you've omitted, which is "...but said it would need to last "30 to 40 years at least" to break the long-term global warming trend."

David, I've often enjoyed your posts but you're not doing yourself any favours quoting an increasingly, (unbelievably, as an ex-reader) closed-minded right-wing paper such as The Australian. It's not in the mould of the Daily Mail, it's much more insidious than that.

I agree with some of your comments re: Iran, but I don't think abstaining is some kind of powerful moral gesture. If it's OK to punish a people for their government (which you yourself say is so vile) then a lot of us would be in trouble. There are similar conflicting views (alienation vs contact) over Burma and, yes, China and I don't doubt we'll soon have more with North Korea, but I think consensus seems to be favouring contact. The reason the internet was so powerful in these recent uprisings was that it is a form of contact, not a form of silence.
Big Lee - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

I think the Iranian government is portrayed to be the greatest threat to mankind by the US for a lot of political reasons. US support lies with Israel in the Middle East. The US needs the Middle East because of its oil reserves. Iran threatens Israel AND has a substantial oil reserve and therefore a linchpin in US foreign policy. Im not condoning the Iranian government but think a lot of the fuss with Iran is tit-for-tat with the US.

As mentioned by someone previous, I had a number of Iranians sincerely ask me not to judge them based on their government's actions. I remember pretending to be Dutch or Australian for my first few days in Iran before realising nobody cared that I was British. Most do not hate America and the West. Most of the demos you see in Tehran are government staged and filmed for propaganda reasons. Rather annoyingly organisations that should know better, such as the BBC, often take the bait and portray this as "news". Note how close the cameras often film in order to disguise the small number of attendees. The media coverage of Iran is often poor. "Informed" reports written by people who have never been to Iran and have no concept of Iranian culture.

Whether or not to "boycott" a country due to its Human Rights record I think depends on your view to sanctions in principle, what they achieve and who they affect. I had this dilemma when deciding whether to visit Burma many years ago. If you think your hard currency strengthens the government's position then don't go. If you think that by interacting with Iranians you are helping to break down the stigmas that the government propaganda machine likes to portray through then go.
duncan b - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to duncan b)
>
> I'm not sure that disagreeing with someone on one subject makes all their views invalid - seems a bit ad hominem to me.

No, you're absolutely right on that. The point I was trying to make was if someone reaches a conclusion on subject A based on a poor understanding of the evidence then it suggests to me that the evidence concerning a different subject (say Subject B) is more likely to have been just as poorly analysed when reaching a conclusion on Subject B.

David Rose - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck: Some sensible comments just above from Damo and Big Lee.

There are, however, two other issue with regard to Iran apart from the hard currency for the regime/contact with ordinary people dichotomy. The first is the risk that you might just fall foul of someone and end up in an Iranian prison, falsely accused as a spy, as has happened to others in the recent past.

The second is that you might, though meeting people who loathe the regime, get drawn into political discussions which might, though your naivety in handling such matters in a place with such an active secret police, actually put them at risk. My point here is that Iran really is quite a dangerous and unpredictable place, and as a journalist who has travelled there and other places which can be a little risky in similar ways, I would caution against dismissing such prospects.
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duncan b - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to davidoldfart:
> (In reply to duncan b) Last week Raj Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, also stated that temperatures have not risen for 17 years. I am not misinformed.

This is besides the point (although to be pedantic the evidence suggests that there was actually a linear increase of +0.05 deg between Aug 1997 and Aug 2012).

The key point which I think you are chosen not to address or misunderstood is that, as the Met Office put it, "choosing a starting or end point on short-term scales can be very misleading. Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system."

The spokesperson goes on to say "Looking at successive decades over this period, each decade was warmer than the previous so the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both ..... Over the last 140 years global surface temperatures have risen by about 0.8C. However, within this record there have been several periods lasting a decade or more during which temperatures have risen very slowly or cooled. The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented and 15 year long periods are not unusual."

Alan Breck on 25 Feb 2013
Wanders off into the sunset muttering about Iran being the cause of global warming...........???
David Rose - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck: The point is that 0.05 degrees is an increase so small it is smaller than the statistical error bars. Pachauri uses the same word that I have in my articles: this is a "pause". It is also one of unexpected, and as yet unexplained, length, and the Met Office is now predicting it will continue until 2017. Prof Judith Curry of Georgia Tech has written that she expects it will carry on for a further 10 years, ie 27 years in total, because of the influence of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a cyclical ocean temperature variation.

This all has a big impact on forecasts for the climate sensitivity - how much the world will warm if CO2 doubles, as many scientists who could in no way be described as sceptics, let alone "deniers", have been saying. However, as stated earlier, there are other forums for such debates. This is my last word on the subject here.
Henry Iddon - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to davidoldfart:
> (In reply to Alan Breck) Some sensible comments just above from Damo and Big Lee.
>
> There are, however, two other issue....The first is the risk that you might just fall foul of someone and end up in an Iranian prison, falsely accused as a spy, as has happened to others in the recent past.
>
> The second is that you might, though meeting people who loathe the regime, get drawn into political discussions which might, though your naivety in handling such matters in a place with such an active secret police, actually put them at risk.

There is also a risk of being run over by a bus.
The two points assume that anyone visiting would be naive in the extreme. Those considering traveling to places such as Iran should be granted the respect that they can look after themselves.

Should anyone ever end up in Evin Prison then I pity them - mianly because they are yards from a very cosmopolitan part of Tehran - with numerous smart eateries.

May I suggest that oldfart writes a polemic on the perils of international travel and mountaineering. Then we can all simple find out what we can do on grit.
stevetaylor20 - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck:

I don't know what everyone else has said but I found that getting the visa is good with http://www.iranianvisa.com/. You need to authorixation code, which is a pre-approved visa..
duncan b - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to davidoldfart:

Personally, I think climate change, and the public understanding of it, is such an important subject is should be discussed on any forum. However, I appreciate that I've got totally off topic. In which case, I'll make this my last post. I suggest you PM me if you feel the need to reply to any of the below.

> Pachauri uses the same word that I have in my articles: this is a "pause".

You also used the word "Stopped". In fact the title of article was "Global warming 'stopped' 16 years ago". A stop and a pause do not mean the same thing. Pause implies a process will continue at some point in the future, while a stop implies that it will not. As you have used both in your article, it's not clear to me which you mean. Do you think global warming has stopped forever or paused and will continue at some point in the future?

> It is also one of unexpected, and as yet unexplained, length

I find this comment particularly frustrating as you obviously haven't read or have chosen to ignore my quote from the Met Office spokesperson. To re-iterate it is not unexpected in the context of previous periods in which global temperatures rose very slowly or fell. To quote the spokesperson again "The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented and 15 year long periods [of small rises in temperature] are not unusual."

> This all has a big impact on forecasts for the climate sensitivity - how much the world will warm if CO2 doubles, as many scientists who could in no way be described as sceptics, let alone "deniers", have been saying.

I can't make sense of this sentence.
AlunP - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Alan Breck:

Iran is off limits according to the FCO

That invalidates medical and any other insurance.

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/middle-east-north-africa/...

I was in north Korea last year so I'm up for off the beaten track stuff but it's a bit like Helmand province - one day hopefully but not at the moment.

ice.solo - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Henry Iddon:

Good post.

Having been in iran explicitly on political and ethnic agendas, there is no issue unless one were to exercise some sort of extreme agenda.
Iranians both persian and other ethnicities are open with their views, the one exception possibly being some kurdish areas, maybe mashad and areas with refugees. Even during elections, things are fine.

Yes, there is the infamous khomite guards element, but they are quite open with their presence and polite. Ive had lunch with groups in the gardens in esfahan.

Iran doesnt have a pariah atmosphere in the way china or myanmar does. They are quite open to the part of the world that doesnt demonise the place. Regionally and culturally they are very central, with a high standard for universities and hospitals.

I was in hamadan for a while, and even tho its one of the most controversial regions, there was nothing unusual.

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