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World Travel Guide > Guides > Middle East > Iran

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Iran: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Iran

Most Iranian businesspeople speak English and are polite and conservative in manner and expect an appropriate response from visitors. Exchanging business cards is normally restricted to senior people. Appointments should be made and punctuality is expected for business meetings. Business gifts are quite acceptable.

Office Hours

Sat-Wed 0800-1600, Thurs 0800-1230 (some offices may close all day).

Economy

Iran's main sources of income are its huge oil and gas deposits, which are among the world's largest. It also has viable deposits of coal, magnesium ores and gypsum.

The agricultural sector is important, although output has been depressed by drought and migration of rural labour to the cities. Government policy has promoted the agricultural and light industry in order to reduce the economy's dependence on oil and increase the influence of the private sector - about 80% of economic activity is state controlled. Annual growth is about 4.3% (2006) with unemployment at 15% (2007). The rate of inflation in 2006 was estimated at 12%.

Economic policy is dominated by the fundamental difference of approach between the elected government and the ruling clergy. Iran has developed important new links with the newly independent states of central Asia as well as Turkey and China but, more importantly, existing trade with traditional partners in Europe, Japan and the Middle East have been restored.

GDP

US$412.3 billion (2016).

Main exports

Petroleum, chemical and petrochemical products, carpets, cement, ore, fruits and nuts.

Main imports

Industrial raw materials and intermediate goods, capital goods, food, other consumer goods and technical services.

Main trading partners

Germany, Japan, China, Turkey, India, South Korea and United Arab Emirates.

Keeping in Touch in Iran

Telephone

Telephone booths are yellow.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with some international mobile phone operators but visitors are advised to check with their service provider before travelling. Coverage is limited to urban areas.

Internet

There are Internet cafés in Tehran and all other major cities.

Media

The struggle for influence and power in Iran is played out in the media. What was once a relatively free press is frequently the subject of censorship. Many pro-reform publications have been closed and reformist writers and editors jailed. The conservative judiciary has also campaigned against the liberal media. Television is the leading medium for news, although broadcasters are more restricted than the press in print and online. In fact, the 1979 Iranian Constitution instituted a law that said all broadcasting must be government-operated, and in 1994 the state banned the use of satellite television. Conservative daily papers include Kayhan and Resalat. Etemaad, which had an anti-Ahmadinejad stance, was closed in 2010. The main English-language papers are Iran News, Iran Daily and Tehran Times.

Post

Airmail to Western Europe can take at least two weeks. There are 10 main post offices in Tehran. Post boxes are yellow. Stamps can be bought at some cigarette kiosks.

Post Office hours

Generally Sat-Thurs 0730-1500, but some main post offices stay open until 2100.