Recommendations for staying in Iran

Iranians are a friendly, hospitable people with an ancient history and a passion for their traditions.

As a result of a mixture of several religions (Zoroastrianism and Shiite Islam), the mentality of modern Iranians has acquired such qualities as leisurely and measured conduct of business, morality, patriotism, hospitality, impulsiveness in communication, respect for elders, sophistication and attention to detail, fatalism.

The specifics of Iranian behavior in general correlates with the mentality of the peoples of the Middle East, but it also has a number of distinctive features that foreigners need to take into account for a comfortable stay in the country.

If you need to find out the way from a passer-by in Iran, they will certainly help you, in some cases they will escort you to the right place and invite you to visit. However, you should not take the invitation and compliments to your address literally: in most cases, this is just a duty of courtesy — “taarof”. The accepted rules of behavior with strangers include numerous greetings, questions about well-being and current affairs before starting a conversation, as well as refusal to accept payment for a purchase or a service provided. Despite the seller's polite request to accept the goods as a gift, you must pay for the purchased goods. Otherwise, the actions of the buyer may be regarded as theft.

The manner of behavior of Iranians sometimes differs significantly from the form of communication adopted in Europe and the CIS countries. The habitual shaking of the head as a sign of denial is here replaced by a short raising of the head and a tongue-tucking, and the perception of bad news or disappointment is replaced by numerous lamentations and sighs.

One of the distinctive features of Iranians is their curiosity towards foreigners, their life in their homeland, political orientation. During the conversation, local residents can inquire about your attitude towards the current government in Iran. It is recommended to answer such questions evasively and neutrally, changing the topic of conversation on occasion.

The attitude of the local population towards the Republic of Belarus is characterized as neutral-friendly. For political reasons, it is not recommended to visit Iran for citizens of Belarus who have stamps of Israel in their passports.

To avoid embarrassing situations, foreigners visiting Iran should refrain from frequent use of kissing, sign language and violation of the personal space of local residents. Gestures that are considered offensive include “a hand in a fist with a raised thumb”, “a raised middle finger”, “a movement of the right or left hand showing a blow to the chin from the bottom up”.

When visiting Iran, you must take into account the phonetic features of the Persian language. A negative reaction from local residents can be caused by which contain the sound combinations “kir” and “kos”, meaning reproductive organs.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a theocratic state in which the norms of “Sharia” (Islamic law) operate at the legislative level. According to these norms, foreign women, like local women, are required to wear a “hijab” — a special form of clothing that covers the entire body except for the face and hands. It is recommended to wear loose-fitting clothing that does not show the curves of the body. Men's wardrobe does not accept shorts above the knee and a T-shirt with bare shoulders.

The situation of women in Iran is not a subject of discrimination. On the contrary, the requirement to wear the hijab emphasizes the special place of women in the social life of the country. Nevertheless, one should not try to get to know the female of the owner's family, invite the female of the family to a common table, hold out a hand to a woman when meeting, try to enter the female section of a public vehicle, ask a foreign interlocutor about his spouse, pay close glances to women, point a hand or finger at them, try to talk or meet women on the street and make comments about them.

Alcohol, pork, narcotic substances, extremist literature, printed and electronic media that offend Islam or the state authorities in Iran, propagandize the Western system of values and contradict Sharia norms, and also contain pornographic content are prohibited from being imported into the country. Open propaganda of homosexual orientation is a criminal offense. The storage, consumption and distribution of alcohol is punishable by corporal punishment (from 40 blows with sticks).

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