By Sajid Rizvi
The Iran nuclear deal means the stage is set for a Gold Rush to Iran to commence. Curiously, this is something on which the media in Iran as well as those outside seem to agree outright. Take the phrase ‘gold rush’ itself. It has been used by Iran’s Press TV as well as that temple of western punditry, The Economist, as well as, ahem, Russia.
So there must be something in it. The question that remains to be answered is when does this Gold Rush kick off.
‘Gold rush’ begins for Iran business,’ headlines Press TV. ‘Awaiting the gold rush: Foreign firms are keen to get back into Iran if sanctions are lifted—but it will not be an easy place to do business,’ cautions The Economist, along with a Claudio Munoz caricature illustrating, piled up atop a Persian carpet in a desert far away (but soon to be near) the logos of Apple, McDonald’s, a few oil majors like Exxon and BP and a bearded, turbaned and brown-robed male figure guarding a spool of what surely isn’t a garden hosepipe.
Several hundreds of billions of petrodollars would have to pour out of Iran before the stereotype, mullah or man in a Tehran street, appears in an Armani suit.
‘Iran Deal is a Gold Rush for Global Business,’ echoes Forbes and The Wall Street Journal too cannot quite think beyond the big business opportunity the ‘opening up’ represents. Some commentators even have taken to refer deferentially to Iran as Persia, as if to exorcise themselves of the ghosts of bombs and burqas (sorry, chador) of Iran they associated for years with the liberally demonised Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of yore.
Playing catch-up and not too soon, Russia’s RT draws us into ‘Persia’s approaching gold rush.’ But Pepe Escobar’s piece for RT is by far the most entertaining of the lot referenced here and above. Away it goes, in part:
‘You may have heard of the N-11. Yes, it’s another clever Goldman Sachs concoction, to the benefit of that prized specimen – the “global investor”. These are the next BRICS, the new emerging powers.
‘The N-11 is made up of: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam. Some of these upstarts may even become members of the increasingly
‘The moment the sanctions regime vanishes, arguably sometime in early 2016, Iran will become the hottest N-11 in the world. It’s very hard to beat its roll call of assets: a consumer market of more than 80 million, largely well educated people; a human capital mix that is even more attractive than Turkey; and in the all-important energy front, a combination of as much oil as Saudi Arabia, as much gas as Russia, and arguably more mineral resources than Australia.
‘And soon back with a vengeance in the global market. Talk about an economic game-changer.’
So, you see, the Iran deal is all things to all men (or women). Even Escobar is not averse to having, well, a bit of fun, as he mentions that Iran isn’t just a land awash with ayatollahs and oil but also a major global producer of steel, cement, cars and well positioned in nanotechnology and stem cell research. ‘It is the certified scientific power in Southwest Asia; the 17th largest producer of scientific papers in the world – ahead of Turkey and Israel. Not to mention Saudi Arabia, that global leader of, well, beheadings.’
It’s clear this show will run and run in a theatre near you. Amidst all the lip-smacking, though, there’s one sad group that isn’t quite sure if and when it will be rewarded in this great scene change.
The arms makers (oops, the defence industry). If only Iran could join or launch a few wars here and there it will suddenly be far more interesting. That, alas, may not be at par with the arms shoppers of the lower Gulf, merrily drawing away on their sovereign funds until both the oil and the dollars run out, but to this lot an arms bazaar in the armpit of the Grand Bazaar of Tehran won’t at all go amiss.
This article originally appeared in The Middle East in Europe [TheMiddleEastinEurope.net].