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 0900-1200 (some offices may close all day).


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.


US$330 billion (2009).

Main exports: 

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

Main imports: 

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

Main trading partners: 

Germany, Japan, China, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.

Keeping in Touch in Iran


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.


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


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.


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. Broadcasters are more restricted than the press. 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.


• Conservative dailies include Kayhan and Resalat. Etemaad is a reformist daily.
• The main English-language papers are Iran News, Iran Daily and Tehran Times.


• State-run IRIB operates four national networks, as well as international and provincial services.
Press TV is IRIB’s English-language satellite channel.


• IRIB operates eight national networks, provinical services and an external service.


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