Harvard Business Review: What It’s Like Being a Business Traveler in Iran

With a sense that a new dialogue may be happening between this remarkable culture and the West, about a dozen CEOs from the U.S., U.K., and Canada with extensive experience in emerging markets persevered to take a closer look. […]

Throughout our ten days this month in Tehran, the religious center of Qom and historic Kashan, Isfahan, and Shiraz, little of what we experienced was expected. […]

We almost immediately learned that Iran is an astoundingly lovely place, with very little of the deep poverty one sees intertwined into the societies of most emerging markets. We visited some of the greatest historic and cultural centers we have ever seen. There is an excellent education system – their engineering, in particular, is globally competitive. We didn’t see a fraction of the religious tension we expected. Everywhere we went, people (especially young people) came up to us even on the streets, tourist spots and restaurants to say hello, to thank us for being there, to express affection. […]

Coke and Pepsi were everywhere. […]

Today, in a country of roughly 70 million, there is well over 100% mobile penetration – meaning many people have more than one “dumb” phone – but 3G is coming and their over 60% Internet penetration is rising (albeit service speed is slow by western standards.) […]

And despite the sanctions and difficulty in buying apps, we were told that there are some 6.5 million iPhones in the country. Despite government restrictions for access to social networks, every young person we saw has found works-arounds to access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. […]

The new generations were born after the taking of our Embassy, so it’s not part of their world-view. They have little interest in their parents’ politics or religion, and in being told what to do.

Read the complete post here:
Harvard Business Review | What it’s like being a business traveler in Iran

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