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Tehran’s Saddening Global Portrayal

A general view of Tehran's seen from central Tehran in this February 22, 2010 file photo.
A general view of Tehran's seen from central Tehran in this February 22, 2010 file photo.

The history of human civilization is tied to the famed cities of the world. Babylon, Athens, Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople, Baghdad, Isfahan, and a few more cities shone in their regions over centuries.

These celebrated cities used to attract artisans, industrialists, merchants, and seekers of power, fame, and glory, writes Radio Farda economy analyst Fereidoun Khavand, who adds, “All roads of our planet led to one of these dazzling cities.”

View of Rome
View of Rome

In today’s world, where globalization is its major characteristic, the “cosmopolitan cities” which are also described as “ecumenopoles”, “planetary cities,” “super cities,” or “global cities,” have transformed into major centers for the world’s economy and politics.

These celebrated cities have common characteristics. Firstly, they are home to the centers that govern the world, especially the offices of transnational companies that shape international economic activities.

These cities are also home to large centers for arts, innovation, research as well as principal universities. Additionally, they are equipped with well-advanced infrastructure for communication and transport.

They attract brains, commodities, services, and capital from all over the world while distributing them back for their part.

Our world today is run by cosmopolitan cities like London, Paris, and Amsterdam, which have maintained their dazzling sparkle over the centuries, and newcomer cities like Shanghai, Singapore and Abu Dhabi that have transformed into their new form over the past 50 years or so.

Ipsos, a well-respected French institution, has for the second time since 2013 weighed 60 different cities of the world and classified them in a report called the Ipsos Top Cities Index.

Ipsos sent the list of cities to 18,557 16- to 64-year-olds from 26 countries and sought their opinion. The French institution asked participants which three cities they consider the best to live in, visit, and do business in.

The same list of 60 global cities was provided for each question.

In the Ipsos Top Cities Index, 2017, New York, in total, won first place for the second time with 23 percent of votes while Tehran along with Nairobi remained at the bottom of the table with zero percent.

View of New-York (Photo: Alexander Genis)
View of New-York (Photo: Alexander Genis)

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi leapfrogged London and Paris into second place, with Tokyo, Sydney, and Zurich holding the same score in equal fifth.

For the question of which city is best to live in, Tehran garnered no votes at all.

In that category, Zurich claimed first place with 18 percent followed by Sydney, Abu Dhabi, Vancouver, and Stockholm, respectively.

For the question of where people prefer to do business, Tehran’s point was once again zero percent.

New York, with 23 percent of the votes, was chosen as the most popular city to do business in.

When asked which city is best to visit, only 1 percent of voters said Tehran.

Paris, with 21 percent of the votes, shone at the top of the table, followed by Rome, New York, London, and Sydney in second to fifth place, respectively.

In a nutshell, Tehran ended as the worst global city of the world in the Ipsos index, in last place among 60 cities. Even cities like Lagos (Nigeria), Karachi (Pakistan) and Nairobi (Kenya) fared better than Tehran.

According to the Ipsos website, “The cities in the global top five have unique strengths; New York and Abu Dhabi are unparalleled as centers for business but they score less strongly as a place to live or visit, while Paris tops the global list of tourism destinations but rates comparatively poorly as a business hub, failing to reach the top 10 on this measure.”

London and Tokyo have rounded profiles, scoring more evenly across the three dimensions, while Zurich and Sydney’s strength is derived from their high scores as top cities to live in.

The remaining top 10 positions this year are occupied by Rome, Los Angeles, and Amsterdam. The cities at the bottom of this year’s ranking are Nairobi and Tehran.

The index is probably saddening for Iranians, especially those who love Tehran, but the inevitable and painful question is: Why has Tehran’s global portrayal been so tarnished that almost nobody voted for it?

Iran’s future depends on Iranians’ answer to that vital question.

The views expressed in this opinion article do not necessarily reflect those of Radio Farda.
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    Fereydoun Khavand

    Fereydoun Khavand is a French-Iranian economist living in Paris. He has been teaching at various French universities and is a regular contributor to Radio Farda as an economic analyst.