You have probably heard the name “Iran” many times in the news, starting from the ambitious atomic project, sanctions, and recently as the epicenter of the Coronavirus in the Middle East.
But Iran in the news is different from what the country really is. You might be fascinated to know that many people in the world believe Iran is another Arab country in the Middle East with the same language, culture, cuisine, and clothes. Well, that is far from the truth. Here are only 5 myths we would like to debunk.
We can point at 3 main reasons why Iranians are not Arabs. Language wise, Iranians speak Farsi, which is an Indo-European language, meaning that like Italian and English, the language has a system of prefixes and suffixes added to the root word. This is not at all the case in Arabic as the Arabic language has a system of 3 or 4-letter root words put against 12 conjugations; basically, Arabic has its own unique features as a language. Although the fonts in Farsi and Arabic are around 85% similar, they are not alike. Another difference lies in their calendars. Iranians use a solar calendar, like the Gregorian calendar, which is made up of 365 days in a year. The Arabic calendar, however, has only 354 days because it is a lunar calendar. It is noteworthy to say that both calendars are observation-based ones and rely heavily on astronomy. Thirdly, ethnicity plays a very important role for Iran. Iranians are a group of people from a wide variety of ethnicities. These peoples have their own micro cultures, cuisines, ceremonies, attitudes, and even languages and dialects. This makes Iran one of the very few countries in the Middle East with a high level of diversity.
Almost two-thirds of the country is dry and semi-dry, but the rest is mountainous with green outskirts and snow-capped mountain ranges which connect the Alps and the Himalayas. There is a small green line just south of the Caspian Sea; this unique region is wet and is covered with lush green mountains. The country enjoys 4 completely distinguishable seasons. Iran is a vast country, so the climate is not the same in different regions. On average, it is hot and dry, but even in the heat of summer, you can still find places to enjoy cool weather, and in the middle of winter, you can go to warmer areas.
Iranian attire varies from region to region within the country; even from villages to cities. As an example, Kurdish people wear khaki, baggy pants which are unique to their culture. As for cities, men in general do not wear a tie or suit at work. A formal dress consists of a jacket, trousers and a shirt. Apart from very few cases of Arabs in the south east of Iran, Iranian men do not wear Dishdasha. Since Iran is considered an Islamic nation, women have to wear hijab, but that does not include Burqa and Chador is optional. Almost no Iranian woman wears Burqa and the type of Chador they wear, if they decide to do so, is tailored differently from the common ones among Arab women. The younger generation of women do not necessarily believe in Hijab and wear shawls with their hair visible and button-less Mantos.
That is a blatant lie. The largest concentration of immigrant Iranians is in California. Iran used to have a very close political relationship with the US. Although that has changed now, the people kept their good relationship. You might have seen on the Iranian state TV, owned and controlled by the regime, angry people who chant “death to America”, but these very people buy iPhones for their children and open Instagram accounts. Many government officials themselves or their family members - even among high ranking members in the regime - have studied in top American universities, including the current foreign minister Dr. Zarif.
Iran has always wanted to reduce its reliance on oil as the main source of the nation’s economy. Unfortunately, the general public were not fully informed of the other options Iran has, like natural gas and solar power. Iranian’s support for this right has been taken advantage of by the regime to follow its own ambitious nuclear program. After all these years, the created nuclear plants contribute only a pittance to the nation’s electricity power grid, slightly more than 1 percent of the country’s entire electricity production.
In short, there are 22 Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa (also known as MENA); Iran is not one of them. Iran is the modern name of Persia with a variety of its own culture, language, demography, and climate. Throughout history and despite multiple ups and downs, Iranians not only managed to preserve their identity, they also welcomed other cultures.