Iran islanders look to cash in on region’s shifting geopolitics
Residents of Qeshm, located in the Strait of Hormuz - the Gulf's key maritime corridor - have long served trade with Arabian Peninsula, south Asia, and Africa
Off of Iran’s southern coast, some 93 miles from the United Arab Emirates, merchants on the strategically located island of Qeshm have been closely watching regional shifts since Tehran’s landmark rapprochement with Saudi Arabia in March.
“The main thing in life is to have good relations with your neighbors,” Iranian retailer Mohammad Bazmandegan, who imports electric appliances from Dubai, told AFP. He has been following the diplomatic tides since Tehran resumed ties with Riyadh after being arch-rivals for several years – a shit affecting the entire Gulf region.
Iran is also seeking to mend relations with other neighbors, including the UAE and Bahrain, which severed ties with Tehran in 2016.
“If relations with our neighbors improve, they will also improve with other parts of the world,” said Hassan Ebrahimi, another trader on Qeshm.
Despite years of sanctions on Iran, people living on the strategically located island of Qeshm can still find goods from major global brands otherwise out of reach. Located in the Strait of Hormuz – the Gulf's key maritime corridor – the island of 15,000 residents has long served trade with the Arabian Peninsula, south Asia, and Africa’s eastern coast.
For decades, merchants have plied the waters between Qeshm and the UAE in their traditional wooden ships – a lenj – synonymous with the ports of the Gulf.
Even if “the market has become more unstable, relations of mutual trust, the fruits of years of cooperation,” allow Iranian and Emirati traders to continue their exchanges, said Bazmandegan, who imports fans, coffee makers, and washing machines from Western manufacturers like Philips and Toshiba.