A tale of two cities, Tehran and Abu Dhabi

(Posted on September 14, 2011)

With a population of around 11 million, Tehran is the capital of Iran located at 1,200meters above sea level. To the north, snow capped Elburz Mountains tower over the city even during the hot and dry summer. The city is rich with cultural heritage. Main streets are lined with beautiful large trees which are watered by snow melt water from the mountains, utilizing nature’s incline ingeniously.

 

By taking an international flight from Tehran southward, across the Persian Gulf, it takes just less than two hours to reach Abu Dhabi. The city has a population of around 630,000 is the capital of oil-rich United Arab Emirates(UAE), which is a relatively new country having gained independence from Britain in 1971. Through carrying out an energetic and sustained economic development program, the city has attained a unique position not only in the Middle East but also in the world as an ideal and futuristic urban city.

 

In fact, Abu Dhabi is a city planner’s paradise, making a grandiose plan and executing it meticulously. One of the city’s latest draws is an indoor ski slope in a region noted for its extremely hot climate with daytime temperatures in their mid-40s Celsius.

Why did I pick the above two cities? Well, simply I lived in both of them for a while. In 2001, I took up a Tehran-based position taking care of telecommunications projects for a Japanese IT company in the Middle East market. I was in Tehran for nine months and then, a few days after 9/11, I moved to Abu Dhabi by coincidence. I stayed there for less than a year.

 

When I was in Tehran, I used to go to Abu Dhabi almost every month. It was a great relief for me to be in such a cosmopolitan place, especially in terms of food, drinks and enjoying myself in general. Life in Tehran was somewhat restricted. For instance, every time I took an international flight from Tehran, I had to get an exit permit verifying that there was no income tax overdue on my part.  

 

Having said this much, I would like to question myself “which of the two cities do I miss more? “. To this, I am honestly inclined to choose Tehran over Abu Dhabi. I miss the cultural heritage, history, people, Iranian cuisine and the more acceptable weather of Tehran. In other words, I prefer life and culture of a singular nature rather than a ubiquitous one.

 

 

 

 

The northern part of Tehran. Some mountains in the background are between 3,500 meters to 4,500 meters high; there are several ski resorts there.

Courtesy Rudiger Meir
Courtesy Rudiger Meir

 

 

 

 

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