Published On: Tue, Apr 5th, 2016

International Firms Face Difficulties in Convincing Iranian Expats to Move Back


Multinational corporations looking to hire expatriate Iranians to represent them in the Islamic Republic are finding it difficult to find recruits that are willing to endure the poor living standards, corruption, and dangers to personal safety, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Jobs that reportedly pay $250, 000 a year are going unfilled, suggesting that many expatriates are “waiting to see how promised reforms progress before deciding whether to go back.”

Reuters listed some of the concerns that are discouraging expatriate Iranians from pursuing these potentially lucrative jobs:

Many in the diaspora are put off by the poor quality of life and problems such as red tape, a murky business culture, security issues, pollution and a lack of international schools for their children. They are also concerned about their rights and protections under the Islamic Republic’s judicial system.

Their reluctance is making life harder for conglomerates who need help to navigate Iran’s complex business world, train the local workforce and bridge a cultural and linguistic gap with affluent local consumers in the country of 80 million.

Some Iranians, especially those who left before the 1979 revolution, fear that they could be subject to arbitrary arrests. Iran does not recognize dual citizenship and several Westerners with Iranian passports (including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was held for a year and a half) have been detained on unspecified security charges.

Ali Tehrani, a 24-year-old British-Iranian dual citizen, hoped to launch a tech startup in Iran but was deterred by the difficulty of obtaining the necessary permits and the concern that he would be forced into military service. “I quickly realized I didn’t have the skill sets to navigate the bureaucracy in Iran, ” he told Reuters.

Living standards are also an issue, especially for potential recruits with families. Out of 230 cities surveyed in 2016 by the business consultant Mercer, Tehran ranked 203 for quality of living, a lower rank than both Pakistan’s Islamabad and Kenya’s Nairobi. Iran also ranked 130 out of 168 in Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Following the announcement of the nuclear deal last July, an editorial in The Washington Post warned:

Iran is No. 130 out of 189 nations on the World Bank’s ranking of ease of doing business. Corruption is rampant and many industries are controlled by the malignant Revolutionary Guard, whose leaders oppose any opening to the West. It remains to be seen whether even big oil companies such as France’s Total and Italy’s Eni, which worked in Iran before sanctions were imposed, will be offered sufficient incentives to invest in new production at a time of a global oil market glut.

For investors on the fence, we have some advice: Before joining the crowd in Tehran, wait to see what happens to Post reporter Jason Rezaian. Three weeks after the nuclear deal was signed, Mr. Rezaian still sits in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, where he has been held since his arrest on July 22, 2014. His continued detention violates multiple Iranian and international laws, including one very simple one: An Iranian statute says no suspect who has not yet been convicted may be held for more than a year, unless accused of murder.

Though Rezaian was released earlier this year along with several dual Iranian-American citizens, others Westerners who have been arrested last year remain in Iranian prisons.


[Photo: Apcbg / Wikimedia ]

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