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Qeshm Islanders Protest Handing Over Tourism To Private Sector

Residents for a human chain in Iran's Qeshm island to protest decision handing over tourism services to private sector. October 21, 2019

People in Iran’s Persian Gulf island of Qeshm took part in a human-chain demonstration on Monday October 21, in protest to handing over tourism services to private sector in Naz Island, 22 Km off the coasts of Qeshm.

IRGC-linked Tasnim news agency quoted a village councillor in Rigou in Qeshm Island as having said that that the people were worried privatization might deprive them of free access to the beach.

The councillor said that similar projects have already affected people's access to many of the beaches in the Island.

Privatization deals in Iran are often not transparent and lead to economic disruptions when assets are sold or leased to insiders with low prices.

Morteza Sheikhzadeh, a Qeshm Free Trade Zone Authority, however, argued that privatization is aimed at offering better services to tourists.

In a similar development, Khatam ol-Anbia, the business conglomerate owned by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), revealed plans in August to build an artificial island in waters off the southern island of Kish, in the Persian Gulf.

The managing director of the Kish Free Zone Organization, Gholam Hossein Mozaffari, said on August 30, the artificial island will be used for recreational and residential purposes.

"The Kish Free Zone Organization will own the artificial island with an area of 500,000 square meters (approximately 123 acres)," Mozaffari announced.

The IRGC's economic branch Khatam ol-Anbia Construction Base is developing artificial island projects. It is not yet clear whether the base had won a bid to build the artificial island or the project was directly granted to it regardless of the law that requires such projects to go for a bid.

It is also not clear how properties on the Island will be sold or rented. There have been many scandals in the past involving senior government officials muscling their way into public lands, in what is known in Iran as “land-grab”.