Iran’s booming consumer culture
During his visit to Cuba in 2012, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that “[t]hankfully we are already witnessing that the capitalist system is in decay, on various stages it has come to a dead end — politically, economically and culturally.”
 
But the changes that have been taking place in Iran in the last few years seem to contradict this.
 
Despite slow mobile internet connections, high prices for imported – most of the time smuggled – technological products and the constant governmental censorship of the media, Iranians are frantically buying smartphones, tablets and flat screen TVs.
 
Shopping has became a near obsessive ritual for young people, and especially women, who have now turned to buying beauty products and high-end western brands to fill in the void of entertainment options and to “rebel“ against the array of restrictions they are subjected to.
 
Even if traditional Grand bazaars continue to be the favourite places to shop for regular Iranians they now face competition from huge shopping malls, which were erected in the outskirts of major cities across the country. And these offer western-style hypermarkets, international brands and colourful gaming arcades to list just a few temptations.
 
In his recent opinion piece for Al Jazeera, Dott. Richard Javad Heydarian described Iran “as one of the most promising economies of the 21st century – and perhaps the next China”, a lion ready to awake.
 
Perhaps “the lion“ is getting ready – In the last few months we have witnessed improved relations between Iran and the West, while the upcoming negotiations for the lifting of the sanctions could pave the way for even more changes in the country and consequently also within the region.
June 12, 2014 – Tehran, Iran. A youth drinks lemonade during the celebration for the birthday of Imam Mahdi in a neighborood of Tehran. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 12, 2014 – Tehran, Iran. A woman shops at the Grand Bazaar of Tehran. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 12, 2014 – Tehran, Iran. Customers walk through the Grand Bazaar of Tehran. Despite the increasing number of malls opened around the country, many Iranians still prefer to shop in traditional bazaars. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 11, 2014 – Qom, Iran. Two young pilgrims walk in front of a mosque in Qom, the second holiest city in Iran. The girl on the left is seeing wearing a patch, after having plastic surgery done on her nose. Iran has the world’s highest nose surgery rate. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 19, 2014 – Isfahan, Iran. A portrait of Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini is displayed on a wall of the Isfahan City Center Mall, one of the biggest in the country. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 09, 2014 – Tehran, Iran. People shop at Golestan Shopping Center, one of the first mall built in the country. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 18, 2014 – Isfahan, Iran. A young boy looks through a shop window. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 26, 2014 – Shiraz, Iran. Customers inside a dress shop. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 29, 2014 – Shiraz, Iran. A woman shops at Hyperstar, Iran’s first international-style hypermarket, built inside the Persian Gulf Complex, a huge mall located a few kilometers outside Shiraz. Hyperstar plans to open 15 branches by 2015 in 5 different cities. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 29, 2014 – Shiraz, Iran. Children play at Iran Land, an amusement park built inside the Persian Gulf Complex, a large shopping mall located in the outskirts of Shiraz. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 19, 2014 – Isfahan, Iran. Customers at the “Kentucky House” one of the fast food restaurant built inside the Isfahan City Center Mall, one of the biggest in the country. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 07, 2014 – Tabriz, Iran. Women shoes are sold in a shop located inside the local Grand Baazar. Despite the increasing number of malls opened around the country, many Iranians still prefer to shop in traditional bazaars. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
 
June 08, 2014 – Tabriz, Iran. A view of the local Grand Baazar, the oldest in the Middle East. Despite the increasing number of malls opened around the country, many Iranians still prefer to shop in traditional bazaars. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 08, 2014 – Tabriz, Iran. Locals take photographs using their smartphones. Despite slow mobile internet connections, Iran has seen a considerable increase of consumers purchasing smartphones. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 12, 2014 – Theran, Iran. Young women dress with traditional Islamic black chador in a street of the capital Tehran. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 09, 2014 – Tehran, Iran. People shop at Golestan Shopping Center, one of the first mall built in the country. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 12, 2014 – Tehran, Iran. A car is sold in a small show room of the capital. Due to the international sanctions, importation of foreign cars is expensive and many Iranians opt to buy locally produced cars. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 12, 2014 – Tehran, Iran. Two young girls walk in the streets of Tehran. Iranian women are increasingly reluctant to comply with government-imposed traditional dress codes and many have started to go around the prohibitions, wearing western-style hi jabs, made of fashionable fabrics. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 18, 2014 – Isfahan, Iran. Two girls check facebook on a smartphone. Despite slow mobile internet connections, Iran has seen a considerable increase of consumers purchasing smartphones. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 18, 2014 – Isfahan, Iran. Traditional Islamic black chadors are sold at the local Bazaar. Iranian women are increasingly reluctant to comply with government-imposed traditional dress codes and many have started to go around the prohibitions, wearing western-style hi jabs, made of fashionable fabrics. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 19, 2014 – Isfahan, Iran. People shopping at the Isfahan City Center Mall, one of the biggest in the country. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 19, 2014 – Isfahan, Iran. A local sits in front of a recently opened unofficial Apple reseller. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 07, 2014 – Tabriz, Iran. Iranian youths play backgammon on a tablet in a traditional cafe. Despite slow mobile internet connections, Iran has seen a considerable increase of consumers purchasing smartphones. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 19, 2014 – Isfahan, Iran. A woman shops in an appliance center inside the Isfahan City Center Mall, one of the biggest in the country. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 10, 2014 – Tehran, Iran. Pantyhose packages are seen with makeshift censorship markings on the model’s arms and legs. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 21, 2014 – Yazd, Iran. A young girl walks in the streets of Yazd. Iranian women are increasingly reluctant to comply with government-imposed traditional dress codes and many have started to go around the prohibitions, wearing western-style hi jabs, made of fashionable fabrics. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 22, 2014 – Yazd, Iran. Local women shop at the local Grand Bazaar. Despite the increasing number of malls opened around the country, many Iranians still prefer to shop in traditional bazaars. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 19, 2014 – Isfahan, Iran. Iranian youths walk in front of a recently opened unofficial Apple reseller. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 25, 2014 – Shiraz, Iran. A man plays with a videogame in the arcade section of a mall. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 23, 2014 – Shiraz, Iran. Cars are seen in a parking lot of Shiraz. Due to the international sanctions, importation of foreign cars is expensive and many Iranians opt to buy locally produced cars. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 28, 2014 – Shiraz, Iran. Women are seen withdrawing money at a local ATM machine. Due to sanctions against Iran, international cards are not recognized. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 29, 2014 – Shiraz, Iran. Locals are seen in an electronics shop selling high-end flat screen television sets. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 29, 2014 – Shiraz, Iran. Mannequins in traditional Islamic dress are seen lined up in a local mall. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
June 11, 2014 – Qom, Iran. Young pilgrims eat ice cream in a cafe of Qom, the second holiest city in Iran. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
Iran’s booming consumer culture
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Iran’s booming consumer culture

Iranians are increasingly buying into Western-style consumerism, despite sanctions and often high prices.
23
467
4
Published: