Meet Iran’s US Football Coach

Dan Gaspar is a 58 year old American, living and working in Tehran, Iran.  He is also the Assistant Coach for the Iranian soccer team.

“My experience is not one I’ve seen on TV or read in a newspaper. I live here, it’s real life,” said Gaspar.

“It may sound strange to most people, but I’ve worked on four continents and Iran is one of the safest places I’ve worked in,” he said. “When I read and hear and see things through the media and then go out to the balcony of my apartment and look into Tehran that is not what I see.”

“You would be surprised, it is very multicultural, far more than I had anticipated,” he said.

“Out and about in the city, when people discover that I’m an American they are interested by it,” he said. “It opens up a discussion, in a positive way.  I have had no negative reactions.”

Read more about Dan Gaspar’s experience here.
Unveiling Iran

Iranian Film Culture

Iranians have a longstanding passion for film.  Yesterday was the premier of the 30th Tehran International Short Film Festival (TISFF).

Over 4,400 Iranian and foreign films were submitted to the Film Festival said the secretary Hashem Mirzakhani.

Iran’s Head of Cinema Organisation, Hojatollah Ayoubi, renoun film Iranain filmmaker, Mohammad Mehdi Asgarpour were among those who attened the opening night held in Tehran’s Mellat Pardis Cinema Complex.

The Iranian favourites include The City I Know by Ehsan Masoumi, Secret of a Stature by Farshad Ektesabi, Taftan by Houshang Mirzaei and Mangroves by Abdolaziz Qasemi.

Organised by the Iranian Young Cinema Society (IYCS), the Tehran International Short Film Festival is scheduled to run until the 20th of October, 2013.


Unveiling Iran

Tehran Calling

In many ways, Tehran is no different to many other cities around the world with concrete office buildings, congested, chaotic roads and pollution.  But Tehran has much more to give than smog and hustle and bustle.

Some say it is the beating heart of Iran.  It is Iran’s most secular and liberal city where women are less inclined to wear the traditional chador, and instead opt for more colourful, transparent, or even tight fitting garments.

A city full of students paired with a treasure chest of activities makes for a fun and lively destination.  Whether haggling for great bargains in the markets, sipping on some chay (tea) or dizi (stew) in a buzzing teahouse, soaking in the east’s most contemporary art in one of the many galleries, or visiting a majestic palace, Tehran has it all.

Tehran Bazar

The best way to soak up the hustle and bustle is to take part in the playful bargaining at the Tehran Bazar.  The Bazar covers more than 10 kilometres of lanes and has several entrances.  Needless to say, the maze of alleyways and shopfronts is overwhelming at the least, confusing, chaotic and jungle-like.  The Bazar sells everything from gold and semi-precious stones, to spices or clothing. With over 4000 carpet merchants in just 60 passageways its no surprise that here’s where you’ll likely find the best bargain on Persian carpets.


Carpet Museum of Iran

Dating from the 17th century the Carpet Museum houses over 100 pieces.  A myriad of patterns and styles indicate the different regions of ancient Persia, and make for a fascinating and informative showcase.


Unveiling Iran

Get Off-Piste

Skiing isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Iran.  With over 20 ski fields in the country, and some of the best and least-populated off-piste skiing, skiing in Iran may be one of the most surprising experiences of all.

Skiing Burkhas

In 2008, English comedian, Dom Joly was inspired to hit Iran’s ski slopes after he stumbled across a photograph of ladies in burkhas skiing (similar to the one above).  He visited Shemshak resort, one of the four main ski resorts high in the Alborz Mountains.

He described this part of Iran as unlike the rest – more distanced from Islam, less traditional, busy, more westernized, and incredibly beautiful.

Apart from the great snow, weather and terrain the Alborz Mountains have, each resort’s village atmosphere and après-ski scene is lively.  As tea culture is hugely significant in Iran, the resort cafés and teahouses are quaint and ambient.  In spite of nationwide ban on alcohol, the nightlife in some resorts is said to have been “out of control and even mind boggling.”

Shemshak and Dizin resorts are probably the most mountainous and challenging of those Iran has to offer, with more lifts, slopes, and plenty of untouched off-piste skiing.  Tochal and Darbansar resorts are better suited for beginners.  All resorts have equipment hire available, accommodation and are within a day-trip distance from the bustling capital, Tehran.

For more information about skiing and ski culture in Iran, see the Lonely Planet website, or read more of Dom Joly’s article.


Unveiling Iran.